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How to win proposals by making them exciting and full of passion

It starts by not writing a boring proposal

If you write your proposal by simply following the RFP, you will not only create an uncompetitive proposal, you will create a proposal that is boring. It will be boring to the customer, boring to your reviewers, and boring to write. I have reviewed a lot of boring proposals.

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But this article is about how to write proposals that are exciting to review and exciting to write.

It helps when instead of simply following RFP instructions to describe things, they focus on what matters about those things. The more a proposal matters, the less boring it is.

The emotion that wins proposals

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

If you don't want to bore yourself to tears writing a proposal, then starting by finding your passion. Passion for the subject. Passion for the outcome. Passion for the possible future. It's good to write about benefits. But if you want to write something compelling, first find your passion and then write about those benefits.

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 gets your company fired up? What breaks the routine and makes everyone suddenly motivated? Tap into that and write from the heart. Winning proposals are not routine.

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 remember what it's like to believe you can change the world through your work. Then describe that much better world for the customer. Make your proposal about how you are going to deliver just that. Write about what the customer is going to get and why it passionately matters. Show your excitement for how wonderful it will be. 

If you can't get excited about it, how can you possibly make the customer excited about selecting it?

How finding your passion wins proposals

You can try to win your proposal by being similar to but a little better than your competitors. Or you can get so fired up and show your love for achieving things that matter that it will wake your customer up from their boring job of evaluating proposal after proposal. Instead of doing what everyone else does a little better, write the proposal the customer can fall in love with.

In school you were taught to write like journalists — to be objective and unemotional. Business speak is intentionally bland, inauthentic, vague, passive, and unaccountable. If you are a technical specialist, then you were likely 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. You just have to go beyond business-speak in order to do it.

Turn your feelings into something that matters

However, 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. Don't write about your intent, your commitment, or your desires. Instead, show your feelings through how much the results the customer will get are going to matter. 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. When you find your passion about what you are offering, you can inspire the customer about the possibilities. An exciting proposal is about unexpectedly wonderful improvements, the results, the aspirations that will become real. It  will inspire them to feel great about your proposal without telling them what to feel.

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? Do you want something important built by someone who is passionate about the engineering, or someone who is uninspired? 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 matter.

In each section of your proposal, think about the things that really matter and then focus on why they are worth feeling passionate about. Then show your passion for what matters by proving you're willing to go beyond the ordinary and deliver amazing results.

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More information about "Carl Dickson"

Carl Dickson

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

Carl is an expert at winning in writing, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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