Words are immensely powerful…they can charm us, instruct us, anger us and frustrate us. They can make us feel happy and understood and loved, or conversely they can make us feel hurt and isolated and hated. If your client misunderstands the meaning behind the words you use or what you intended to say, then the connection between you and your client will be lost.
They won’t understand the value of your proposal and what it means to them and will stop actively listening
The main information processing styles are called, visual, auditory, kinaesthetic and auditory digital. These are ways we re-present the world and when reading your bid or proposal or tender, assessors will generally use three of their five senses to make judgements even before they have read a single word. So, it’s important to make sure that the subliminal messages you give out in your bid align to the way you want your client to feel…appeal to their senses and visually stimulate their minds.
Next time you get a new tender enquiry take a moment to really understand what you’re being asked to do. Dig a bit deeper than usual and consider the words and key messages in the enquiry…if you’ve taken instruction from the words your client has used or gained a better understanding of their issues, then how do you think they will respond to the words you use? Consider…
How will your words make your client feel and what will they do as a consequence?
When the bid documents land it’s all too easy to quickly read the questions and start answering without really understanding the meaning behind what you’ve been asked. So, it’s worth taking time time to reflect on the question you’ve been asked. If like me, you read lots of information during your normal your working life and tend to scan read then the chances are that you could miss vital information and respond only to the words that stand out to you. These words are likely to appeal to our professional interests or personal preferences or our background and will act as a trigger that gets us to take action or makes us feel something.
Trigger words are crucial in communication, both in what we read & how we write
Break the questions or the enquiry you’ve been asked to respond to into manageable chunks that will help structure your response and ensure you’ve tackled every aspect of your client’s question rather than the issue that was prompted by the trigger word.
When writing your bid or proposal, choosing the style in which you want to communicate is also important. Writing is like art and what works for one person doesn’t always work for another… be sure to use the writing style that will connect with your client in the way they talk or express themselves.
Quite simply, it’s all about telling the story about your business and connecting the beginning to the middle to the end in a way that your client understands. When you do this well you take them on a journey of discovery that ends in a place where all their worries have been addressed and they can see, feel or understand how the results they want will be achieved using only your solutions. Here’s a great example of subliminal messaging:
My son has just returned from working overseas was seeking a new job at home. He asked me to review the letter he wrote to accompany his curriculum vitae and, not surprisingly there were some interesting trigger words that he’d used unknowingly.
Whilst away he supervised the work of his team and rather than saying, ‘I managed a team of…’ he said, ‘I was in charge of…’
It’s a subtle difference but saying that you managed something is not as powerful as saying you were in charge. Because one suggests a soft approach that might not have worked whilst the latter says you did everything within your power to make something happen. The feeling that his potential employer will get from that message is very strong and will create the right connection from the outset. (By the way, he got the job!)
There are also ‘weasel’ words, as one of my clients calls them, which can undermine your message and make your client feel disillusioned and disconnected. Words like, ‘we aim to’ or ‘could’ or ‘might’ just make your message weak. An increasingly popular and useless sentence I’ve seen recently is, “we would look to”…which means it is not likely to happen and what does that really say about you!
If you don’t think you can do something then it’s best to not say anything. Or if, there is a doubt and you have to say something then say when you’ll know you can make a decision and what this will mean to your client.
When you’ve written your next bid take a little time to review the content and check what trigger words you’ve used and the feeling you think they are likely to invoke in your client. Think of them like a bright light or a loud noise…can you turn them up, make them sharper and connect them as a theme to generate the emotion you want your client to feel? Check out Vision’s online training programme ‘Win More Bids’ for more tips and techniques on how to improve your connection and writing skills.
Next time you start a bid get a highlighter and run it over the words in the bid documents for any trigger words you read that prompt you to take a particular action. Then after you’ve written your responses do the same to check if you’ve answered everything you’ve been asked in the question. Then check if your trigger words match those used by your clients and what feeling you think they will be left with when they’ve read your narrative.
Until Next Time!
In the penultimate issue of this dries on how to win more bids we’ll look at how a confident approach makes all the difference…it’s all about building trust and persuading your client to buy from you so you don’t have to sell!