Sometimes it’s hard to connect with your client’s procurement team that you’ve probably never met when your only means is through what you write. I’ve heard many people talk about using the same technical words in their bids that their clients use so that they are considered to be in the know…and to some extent they are right. But you have to go that bit further if you want to really stand out.
Great communication is all about connection and engagement with others and winning is about delivering your message in the way that your client wants to hear. So, how do you find this out? If you’ve read my previous articles then you’ll already have heard about the 3Ps Process that we use to take our clients on a journey of discovery so they really understand the benefits of using you.
The best place to turn to is the bid document…after all your client has taken the time to consider how best to communicate with you by thinking about the way they present their problem to you. The language, wording and order in which they have described the problem makes sense to them and they hope it will make sense to you so they get responses that are easy for them to understand.
It is crucial that your client feels that you understand them and their issues so…
And, avoid changing the meaning of words or the order of your response to suit yourself or you could you risk confusing your client and showing that you’re not aligned to their way of thinking. And if you don’t believe me, here’s a good example:
In a recent bid, Kimberley Homes was asked to describe how they would engage with the local partnerships to deliver the Council’s regeneration aspirations through the new housing framework. When the technical writer responded he changed ‘partnerships’ into ‘partners’ and included Kimberley Homes’ suppliers and subcontractors. Now, whilst they may well be part of the process in achieving the objectives they are not the appointed partnerships that the Council was referring to.
These partnerships were local agencies backed by government and with an approved budget to meet specific targets for improving local communities. It was crucial that these agencies were fully engaged during the project so that their work could continue through the new framework and meet their delivery obligations. But the technical writer missed this completely! Kimberley Homes scored badly for this response because they went off at a tangent rather than sticking to the point and addressing the direct concern of their client.
So, it’s important to remember that if you change the format or order or style of your bid response differently to your prospective client then you risk alienating them and they may fail to understand what you’re trying to say and how it relates to them.
You can avoid this by matching and mirroring what they’ve said and how they’ve said it. Avoid just blindly copying and apply some extended thinking to your response but by using the language and style and order that your client uses can turn your bid from a credibility killer to being a real winner.
It’s also important to think about your audience and their personalities and how they might speak and what they might want to hear and how they might want to hear those things said. This is where you can introduce your personality so your client gets to hear the real you and not an automaton that is trying too hard at selling.
There are many myths about the style you should use in a bid document, proposal or even a presentation. But in my experience they only serve to hamstring the individual when writing or presenting and force them into using a style that they are not comfortable with.
I’ve found that the most successful people in business (and in life) are those who have the greatest flexibility in the way they communicate and who have the ability to adapt to suit those listening to them.
When you use a style that feels uncomfortable to you, you’re likely to lose your natural rhythm and it will be so much harder to tell your story in a way that is comfortable for your audience with the risk that you’ll not be heard properly…or even at all! Worse still, you can come cross as lacking in confidence and this will be conveyed subconsciously in the way that you write and can result in you appearing to be untrustworthy or lacking credibility.
Next time you decide to respond to a bid, be sure to understand the language that your client has used, the order of importance they’ve placed on their problems and the technical language they’re used to using. Then have some fun and use a style that also suits you to tell your story in a way that engages and excites them so that they are left with in no doubt but to choose you.
Check out your last bid and see if you mirrored your client’s language, style and importantly the order in which they asked their questions. I suggest you use a highlighter pen to identify any divergences so you can get a feel for how successful your style and communication was.
Good luck until next time!
In our next instalment, we’ll look at the best ways of selling your goods or services without being shy!