Problem: We’re not connecting with our customers
Many of us think our proposals and our writing is focused on the customer. We write about the features of our offer, but we’re falling short. Why?
Chances are that our proposals may not be as customer focused as we think. Maybe we are offering features that the customer doesn’t need or want. This is a problem! When this happens, we’re not demonstrating customer focus. We’re trying to sell them on solutions they don’t need and the customer quickly loses interest and our proposal goes straight in the trash.
Solution: Show more customer focus in your proposals—write to the evaluator
Customer focus means we step into the customer’s shoes to determine what they need and require. What are their hot buttons? What is their buying vision? How will our solution solve their problem? What value are we offering? What matters most to the evaluator? Speak to these questions as you write.
These guidelines will make your proposals more customer focused:
- Cite the customer organization’s buying vision—address their primary need. Numerous studies of buyers have found that while nearly all bidders are technically qualified, the proposal selected was the one that stated the best understanding of the customer’s business objectives.
- Link the customer’s buying vision directly to your solution. Sometimes sellers get so close to the immediate project that they lose perspective and focus on features rather than benefits. Help the customer connect the dots between their need and your solution.
- Focus on the customer’s hot buttons (needs, issues, and motivators) in theme statements. Addressing the customer’s hot buttons immediately in a theme statement places the focus on solving the customer’s problem instead of what you are selling.
- Address hot buttons in the order preferred by the customer. When organizing your proposal or section address the most important issues first. Use the customer’s own words whenever possible.
- Whenever possible, name the customer before your own organization in paragraphs and sentences. Scan the opening sentences of each paragraph in your documents. Make sure they don’t always open with the words “we,” “our,” or your organization’s or product’s name. Name the customer first. Make it all about them, not you.
- Name the customer as many or more times than your own organization. Avoid making the proposal “all about us.” By mentioning the customer’s name more than your own, you increase the customer’s engagement and connection to your message.
- Cite benefits before features in your writing. The customer is always ready to know what the benefits of our solution are—name them first and then address the features.
Focusing on solving the customer’s problems and demonstrating value in our solutions are keys to customer-focused writing. By applying these guidelines you will improve readability and increase your probability of winning the business.