We don’t need to be compelling, because it’s just about the scoring criteria…right?
Why? Because although the government is required to use the scoring criteria in their evaluation, ultimately there is a person at the end of that scoresheet. And at a very basic level, it’s human nature to want to be compelled during a sales process.
The compliance trap
While you have to check all the boxes and be responsive to the stated evaluation criteria, you also have to assume all other bidders are also going to submit at least minimally compliant responses. If you only focus on compliance, you’re just on-par with your competition. It’s vital your response sets you apart by moving from Compliant to Compelling.
Everyone wants to be captivated
We like to think all contracting decisions are rational and steeped in facts and figures. But, numerous studies found that more complex purchasing decisions (like buying a house, car, or other substantial purchase) actually take place unconsciously. And the single best way to get our customers to make a large or multifaceted purchase (like those driven by RFPs) is to create an experience that allows them to emotionally connect with the product or service…i.e. share a “vivid customer story.”
Before you get worried that you don’t have enough space in your page-limited proposal to insert compelling content, we have good news. One study found that online readers can’t be bothered to scroll and most barely finish 50% of what’s on a page. While those stats cover reading on a screen, the lesson applies to all evaluators: they’ll read until satisfied, score the question, and then move on to the next requirement.
This means that you can invoke compelling outcomes and accolades early in your response, tie them to corresponding evaluation criteria, and call it a day. Your evaluator gets their appetite filled for both scoreable content and compelling storytelling quickly and effectively. And you didn’t have to pontificate for pages and pages.
Show, don’t tell, to compel
Compelling responses move beyond just rote responding to RFP requirements and craft a story by weaving in data, facts, or experiential details simultaneously. Stories engage us because they illustrate how and why—not just what in terms of restating RFP requirements.
Creating your story doesn’t have to be complicated either. Your how is accomplished by sharing the tools, processes, policies, and methodologies your company already has in place. Your why connects the work back to the client’s mission to show outcomes.
Show, don’t just tell, how employee retention translates into increased responsiveness or reduced risk. Weave in any awards, accolades, certifications, or designations your company and employees have received. Show examples of where you’ve replicated the solution being proposed and how often. Go through your content to identify and substantiate all key points with data from benchmarks, external qualified sources, internal assessments and evaluations to show your commitment to innovation and staying current with applicable industry standards.
When you write with your how and why in mind, your response shines. Have a recompete coming up? Use this approach now to track and collect data, testimonials, and quotes across your client base. That way you’re even more prepared to wow reviewers when going up as the incumbent.
Algorithm for creating compelling content
First: State your understanding of the requirements as it relates to your approach to performing the work. Your goal is to demonstrate your capabilities through the specific processes, systems, tools, and philosophies you’ll use to do the work.
Then: Provide proof statements using examples from similar projects. Be literal and insert terms, phrases, examples, and results like case studies and testimonials to add instant credibility.
Finally: End with a customer-centric benefit statement. Show how your solution will improve, increase, cut (or save), and impact their mission specifically.
The result: Compelling content that is better positioned to influence a reader by engaging with what really matters to them. With practice, this can be done in a few sentences—or even one graphic with a strong caption.
The bottom line
You and I both know what we want as consumers—so you can bet the government does too. That’s why we’re so focused at WinBiz Proposals on creating the writing systems and strategies that help our clients sell. So next time you sit down to write another proposal response, break out this handy infographic.
Need help identifying where and how you can create more compelling content? Our writers and editors are meticulous and trained to create more captivating content. We’re also happy to come on-site to help train your writers and SMEs to think compelling even while focused on complying with the many requirements set forth in your RFPs.