Using tone of voice to develop your proposal personality

Last week, I talked about the role that proposal personality plays in the unconscious decisions buyers make about whether we are worth doing business with.

When we present in person, there are many cues that show our personality. In a written proposal, however, these cues are more limited. Personality mostly comes through in the way the proposal looks and feels, and of course in the way it sounds when you read it.

Proposals are all about influencing the prospect’s thinking to your point of view, and it’s usually best to employ a combination of Approachable and Assertive tone when writing.

For example, in a tender for medical recruitment services, suppliers were asked to nominate their Preferred Supplier Agreements with other customers. It’s possible that the buyer did this because they were already thinking about conflicts of interest this might create with their competitors. However, they also might not have fully understood the implications.

My client, let’s call them Medical Recruiters, took an assertive tone on this issue as it played to one of their key competitive advantages and they needed to strongly influence the buyer’s thinking. Their answer went something like this:

Our market position, which is free of conflicts of interest, creates a compelling reason to consider Medical Recruiters as one of your preferred suppliers. Medical Recruiters does not have any Preferred Supplier Agreements with direct competitors of Pharma Co. Our only Preferred Supplier Agreement is with ZedCorp, a large multinational Medical Device company. There are real risks in appointing Preferred Suppliers of recruitment services that already hold such agreements with your direct competitors. For example, how does the recruiter decide where to send an excellent candidate, when they have two or three other clients looking for a similar person? Where potential conflicts of interest do exist, it is important you are 100% confident in the quality of the consultants who will be allocated to your account. The Best Practice in Human Resources Report (date) surveyed 5,000 professionals who changed jobs in the preceding 12 months and found that the individual consultant was the main catalyst in building their enthusiasm for the role and gaining their commitment to the employer.

The buyer was sold, and Medical Recruiters won a place on their preferred supplier panel.