Our last blog focused on the purpose of effective interactive workshops for tender teams/shortlisted respondents as part of your client’s procurement of their projects. It worked through why they do them and the different types that are used by clients. Further detail on this blog can be found here.

This blog focusses on the key principles for tender teams/shortlisted respondents that are critical in ensuring you have an effective interactive procurement workshop experience. This is important given the considerable amount of investment put in by tender teams and clients in ensuring they are able to deliver value for money and innovation from them as part of their procurement processes.

From the perspective of tender teams/shortlisted respondents, some of the underlying principles to consider include:

1.       Prepare well
Teams that are organised and have a plan will perform the best at the interactive.  Interactive workshops must have a clear purpose.  They need to be well planned, organised and thought through.  Know your plan and execute it well to ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of success.

2.       Allow for differences and learn how to flex
People are different.  They think, react and behave in different ways.  They all have different personalities and the way they interact, trust information, make decisions and organise themselves all have an impact on how they receive you, your information and the team.  Because people are different it is worthwhile thinking about how you can cater to a range of personality preferences by using pyschometric tools that enable you to understand your preferences and the teams.

3.       Know your stuff but also ask for time or clarification when we don’t
The tender team/shortlisted respondent must be across the job/project and understand its risks, challenges and key issues.  Ensuring the team has read and understands the subject matter is a basic expectation the client and their evaluation team will have.  When you also don’t know something that has not been made clear by the client, ask for clarification.

4.       Be clear on individual roles – know your role and play it
It’s essential that each person in the tender team/shortlisted respondent is clear on the role they will be playing at the interactive.  During the interactive it is vital there are “no surprises” and everyone is clear on what is expected from them.  This also extends to ensuring that you also know your role pre and post interactive to ensure we prepare and plan well and are united in our positions and approach.

5.       Educate and Understand and Don’t ‘sell’
The client/tender evaluation team does not want a sales pitch or sales presentation.  Interactives should be about the client and the tender team listening and working through the problems/issues together in constructive and open way to drive a value for money solution.

6.       Don’t make assumptions
Tender teams often make assumptions around what the client is looking to achieve.  Come prepared with options (not solutions) and look to test these with the client.  Be careful not to assume you already understand what they are wanting or trying to achieve.  Use the interactive to listen to what is being said, test your assumptions and confirm your understanding is correct.

7.       Present as a united team
The client wants to see a team who work effectively together and with them as a client.  Don’t undermine others in your team during the interactive.  Be supportive of each other and work together as a united team.

8.       Don’t pretend to know something you don’t
If you don’t know the answer to a question don’t pretend you do or make something up that you know isn’t quite right.  It is far better to be upfront and say you don’t know the answer to a question but commit to the client to get back to them with an answer after the interactive.  And then make sure you do.

9.       Engage with all the people in the room
Engagement with everyone in the room is critical.  Know the people that the client is bringing to the workshop and bring them in to the interactive to ensure we get the value out of the workshop.  Ask more questions than give answers to ensure the conversation is open and engaging rather than short and closed.

10.     Practice makes perfect
The best way to prepare for an interactive is to practice.  Dry runs are useful because people get an opportunity to rehearse and gain feedback from their colleagues.  Many tender teams rehearse several times prior to the actual interactive taking place.  The more comfortable people are talking through topics that may come up at the interactive, the more confident they will be on the day.

All the items below don’t make the difference on their own.  However, the combination of all of them ensures you have put all the key elements together for what should be a successful interaction with your client.  Remember the key principle of interactives is to build trust with our client and de-risk our proposal and our offering so that we are able to provide the best possible value for money outcome for the client and their project.  The outcome of this is we are successful in winning the bid and will be the team of choice that they will be wanting to work with.