Think My Thoughts

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I’ve always loved and applied this Cicero quote: “If you want to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings and speak my words.” If I could ask the people who create all the RFPs and ITTs we receive if they agreed with Cicero, I’m sure the vast majority would say yes.

Obviously, we are all in the persuasion business but how many of us understand our potential customers thoughts, feelings, or the language (words) they would use? Not enough is my guess. Obviously, their words (language) are in the documents they send us, so read and analyse them in detail BEFORE creating any proposal content. You should be able to identify words or phrases that are used repeatedly and create win themes and key messages from there.

Cut and paste content will almost certainly fail to persuade as it doesn’t reflect any specific customer’s words (language). Thoughts and feelings are much tougher to understand and reflect in a proposal if there is no relationship or history with the customer. I’ve advised a no bid in these situations, but always a ‘constructive no bid’ as in you tell them you’re not bidding and why. On several occasions this has resulted in an invite to meet the customer – and once (Highways Agency) the result was a win!

Beyond having an actual relationship with the potential customer, there is a mass of information online that will enable you to gain further insights into their thoughts, feelings and words. Company mission statements and values are a good starting point, as are shareholder briefings. A massive win at a major German bank was largely due to one of the team doing a deep dive in the shareholder briefings video and identifying a major barrier that only we could address.

So, my ‘quick win’ is simple; keep the Cicero quote at the forefront of your thinking when deciding to bid and whilst writing the proposal.

This article was written by Chris Whyatt.

Chris is the co-founder of the UK APMP, prior to which he founded and led Practical Bid Solutions, and its successor, Get to Great Results. He has worked on major growth initiatives, sales and channel growth, sales turnarounds, must win deals, and sales and bid process improvement.

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