The Development Source

Why It’s Important to Tell Great Stories in Your Proposals

Put yourself in the place of the reviewers of your proposal. You have been asked to review proposals in the midst of your daily responsibilities. You probably do not know much about the procurement opportunity. Perhaps you have not had much time to read the RFP.

And to add to your uncertainty, you cannot really anticipate the consequences of your decisions. Suppose you recommend that company A receives the contract instead of company B? What difference is that likely to make?

This is why it is important to tell great stories in your proposals. We have been telling and reading good stories for thousands of years. From the fireside to your Kindle, stories continue to inspire, enchant, and motivate. Your proposal reviewers are no different than you. They too want to read good stories in your proposal.

Amidst all your proposal prose about your company’s qualifications, capabilities, staff, and past performance, you need to reinforce what you have been saying with good stories. Below are the characteristics of the stories you should be telling.

Keep it simple. Make your stories easy to understand, so easy that little thinking or analysis is required. Simple stories also will be easy for reviewers to remember.

Avoid contrived stories. Instead, tell a story that actually occurred that makes an important point and supports your win themes.

All good stories grab us emotionally. This may be difficult to do in a proposal, but one way of conveying emotion is to describe a problem your company faced, how you responded, and how it benefited the customer.

Remember, in a proposal you are selling a product or service. And as all good salespeople know, you need stories to make your point, build credibility, and hook your audience. RFPs force us to dwell on processes, policies, and activities, and it is these activities that give you an opening to tell a good story. Tell good stories, and your proposals will become more competitive.

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