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Why the customer does not care about the story you are telling in your proposal

Your proposal tells a story whether you intend to or not. Too bad the customer probably doesn’t care about yours…

Sometimes people put a lot of time and energy into making sure their proposal tells their story. They craft their story with great care. They become attached to it. They often use up valuable page space leaving less to address the RFP requirements.

Your story should not be an extra book the customer has to read before they get the pleasure of evaluating your proposal

And as much as your story can make you feel good about yourself, the customer probably doesn’t care about it.

Because it’s about you. 

Who wants to read a book about how a vendor came to be so great?

See also:
Customer perspective

The story the customer wants to read is the one about how great their future is going to be. And it’s a short story. It’s a tweet about the summary of the abstract of the short story. Who wants a lot of reading? TL;DR…

The person reading the proposal only wants to read enough to reach their decision. Proposals are scored and not read. A story about something the evaluator doesn’t care about gets in the way of scoring. It makes the evaluator’s job take longer. Proposal writing should not be about you. Proposals should be written from the customer's perspective.

A short story about what the customer will get by accepting your proposal and what things will be like in the future as a result can be scored. Even better, this aligns their immediate need to score the proposal with their future aspirations.

Your story about the customer’s future is told in your introduction sentence. It’s what they will get. It’s told as the conclusion of subsequent topic sentences to either explain why you are offering what you propose or to provide support for the promise that they will actually get it.  It links every approach and the fulfillment of every requirement with the likelihood that they’ll realize the future you offer.

Your story about the customer’s future should be about what they will get, what matters about it, and why it’s special. It’s about what it will be like to receive it and live with it. It’s about a better future. 

Stories have conflict and every procurement involves tradeoffs. Your story about the customer’s future gives you a common explanation for why your approach to the tradeoffs resolves the conflicts in the best way possible.

But the story is not a book. It’s told in the introduction sentences that make the key points. It’s told in the conclusions of sentences about requirements fulfillment. It’s told when you combine what the customer will get with why you chose that approach or with your proof for why they should believe you that you can deliver what you've promised. It’s part of every sentence throughout the proposal. But it’s not an extra book the customer has to read before they get the pleasure of evaluating your proposal. 

If you're ready for advanced proposal writing, you can try these 11 ways to approach telling a story in your proposal that are accessible to PropLIBRARY Subscribers.

The story about the customer’s future will be far more engaging and far more persuasive than a story about how you became a great vendor that believes the customer should pick them.

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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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