It’s about striking a balance between delivering a professional response and making sure the customer is engaged when they read your proposal.
Some people write tenders like they would formulate a contract. Key words like ‘Project’ are capitalised throughout the response, they spell out the full name of the customer at the beginning of every paragraph (or worse still they refer to them as just ‘Customer’), and the whole document is written in third person.
Although your proposal should never be too familiar or casual (it is after all a legal binding business document), it is worth considering the evaluators who are going to read it. Fifty or often more pages of formal, contract-like third person text is not any easy read for anyone. And they don’t only need to read your proposal, but your competitors’ proposals as well.
The voice and tone you use in your proposal contributes significantly to the potential customer’s impression of you. It also sets the scene for the quality of documentation and reporting they can expect from you throughout the project. So you need to get it right.
Here are our best tips to help you do that:
- Set a tone that is right for you – after all a tender is a ‘silent salesman’ and should leave an impression about the company behind the submission
- Keep it personal by using ‘we’ and ‘our’, ‘you’ and ‘yours’ – this helps the customer feel like you are speaking directly to them
- Write in plain English – avoid elaborate writing styles that can be difficult to follow
- Avoid buzzwords and jargon wherever possible – this is sometimes unavoidable in the scope of work, but try to limit tech speak to the sections that will be evaluated by technical people
- Keep it snappy – your tender response will stand out if they don’t have to read pages of waffle that is straight from a marketing brochure
- Look for opportunities to shorten your sentences – it improves readability
- Write more actively – an active voice conveys confidence, and it is clearer in conveying what you will deliver
- Use bullet points, lists and call out boxes to highlight important points
- Be consistent throughout the proposal – multiple contributors can mean changes in voice or tone, but the proposal should be cohesive and speak to the customer with one voice.
If you’re guilty of writing your tender responses like a contract, try some of these tips and see what a difference it makes to your next submission – the evaluators will thank you for it!