The emotion that can win your proposals

Your proposal should not be about you. It should not be descriptive. It should be about the customer and what matters to them.

If you don't know what really matters to the customer, what their concerns, fears, interests, agenda, ambitions, goals, preferences, etc., are then you have to write about the next best thing: passion.

What is your company passionate about? What gets you excited about fulfilling the customer's needs? Tell them. Just do it from the customer’s point of view.

What about your work are you passionate about? What do you like about it? What is important about it? Put your cynicism aside for a moment and pretend you can change the world through your work. Then describe that much better world for the customer.

Instead of writing about what you are going to do or deliver, write about what the customer is going to get and why it matters. But show your passion. Show your excitement for how wonderful it will be and for why it matters.

In school you were taught to write like journalists — to be objective and unemotional. If you are a technical specialist, then you were also taught that engineering is not about emotion. You were taught wrong.

If you care about what you do, and you want to do a good job, and are pleased with the outcomes and you know the customer will be too, those are all emotional responses. And it’s good to show them in your proposal.

But while you want to show what you care about, you don't want to write about your feelings. Your feelings don't add any value to the customer. Show your feelings through the results the customer will get. The more something matters or the more important it is, the better the results should be. Talk about what approaches are better and why, or about how much better the results can be instead of telling the customer what you think or feel.

Your proposal should be about what the customer will think or feel. Only you can’t tell them what they will or should think or feel without being patronizing. By describing the results, you let the customer experience the feelings naturally.

If you have to pick a vendor, and one is passionate about what they do and the other is dry or formal, which is more likely to get the job? If one proposal is about how important what the vendor does is and how much better it makes things for the customer, while the other proposal just describes what the customer will pay for, which will inspire more confidence in the customer?

But your passion has to be genuine. You can’t fake it. And it can’t be about you, what you’re going to get, what you want to do, or how good you feel about doing it. Your proposal should be about sharing how wonderful the results will be and your passion for the things that are important.

The best way to write like this is not to try. But not to fight it either. In each section of your proposal, think about the things that really matter and then focus on why they are important to the customer. Don’t talk about your commitment or values or things that don’t add value. But do show your passion for what matters by delivering the right results.



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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.

The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.

In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.
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