Winning the Business

Writing That Appeals to Emotions

Choosing language that will connect with buyers

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The first secret of bidding is that we are selling to people, not organizations. This may sound obvious, but let’s think about our proposals: How often do we really think about who we are writing to, as opposed to what we are trying to sell?

Generally, we are selling to a group of people within an organization. Each person has different needs, desires, and ways of interpreting information. For us to be successful, we need our proposal to satisfy their needs, support their desires, and communicate in a manner they can easily digest.

Emotional vs. Rational Considerations

The challenge is that every human being has a different personality and thinking style. Our perceptions of any particular information reflect those differences. However, while individuals are unique, all people make buying decisions by going through a process that involves emotional and rational considerations.

In our personal lives, for example, decisions such as buying a house or car are made through this process. Emotionally, we decide on the house or car we like; we try to back up this choice with our rational thinking.

We might be drawn to a certain brand of car because of its social esteem factor or because we have previously bought the same brand. We may like the car because of its speed or design or because it is the same or better than what our friends have. These are all emotional factors.

We then look at it rationally: Can we afford it? Is it reliable, safe, and economical to purchase and operate? This is our self-validation.

Connecting With Your Audience

Many of us are selling services, which means there is little (or nothing) tangible for the customer to touch and feel before making the buying decision.

The challenge is to be able to create a proposal that emotionally connects with the buyers, so that they better interpret the value of our services and we score a higher evaluation. We need to write our proposals so that the buyers want to read them; the proposal needs to be in a style they enjoy reading, which may not be the style we are used to writing.

In an ideal world, we would have all this information on the buyers, and we would have infinite time and resources to create a proposal that they love reading. However, we do not live in an ideal world.

Consider this situation: You need to write a short note, detailing the delivery of a solution to a customer. Without knowing anything about the reader, you would naturally produce the document using your normal style. However, if you knew a little about the reader, you could write a document tailored to him.

You find out the document will be read by Dave. Do not call him David: He does not like it, as it is what his parents called him when he was naughty. He is organizationally driven and has a great respect for authority; he likes to be shown a similar level of respect. He has a scientific brain and hates fluffiness. In his world, everything is binary, and anything with a shade of gray concerns him. Knowing all of these details will allow you to write a document that speaks directly to Dave.

To ensure you write your proposal for the target audience, you need to know your audience. You can develop this understanding through relationship management and build it into your proposals through storyboarding from the start.

Martin Eckstein is based in Pune, India, as head of bidding best practices for Fujitsu Global. He can be reached at

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