What’s in a word…a phrase…a sentence…a paragraph? Frankly, quite a lot.
Language is more than spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and grammatical phrasing. Language is about tone, feeling, understanding; effectively communicating ideas and thoughts with other human beings.
We use language for specific purposes—and when that purpose is to persuade someone to do business with us—to trust us—we need to be smart about the language we use and how we use it.
I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care
Prospective customers need to understand, to believe, to know that you have their best interests at heart. If we begin a proposal or presentation with information all about us (the seller), the underlying message is that we’re primarily interested in ourselves. In contrast, a sales message that immediately empathizes with the customer’s needs and goals sends a much different message—that we understand and care about their concerns and what they want to achieve.
Have a conversation
We need to talk to our customers—not at them. Our sales messaging should be conversational, just as if we were sitting across their desk having a personal chat. Forget the “business lingo” and stick with everyday language that you use in casual speech. People like to do to business with people they feel comfortable with, and your speech patterns help cement a comfortable feeling. Not lazy or slang but comfortable. It’s kind of like having meatloaf for Sunday dinner; not fancy but it satisfies.
Change the focus
When selling, we too often focus on touting our products/services, business strengths and differentiators. If, instead, we move the conversation to discussing the things that the customer values—what they want to accomplish—we change the tone of our dialogue. We make the sales proposal a “you” document, not an “us” document. Of course the holy grail of sales discussion is when we make our proposals and presentations a “we” conversation—one where we show the value of how we, and we alone, can help the customer achieve their unique goals.
Give it a try
There’s not one set way or template to accomplish these communication goals. Every customer and every selling situation is different. But, if you keep these simple principles in mind and write your proposals accordingly, you will greatly enhance your chance of winning hearts, minds and business.
Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Proposal Writing
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Using Words with Purpose: Purposeful Language for Powerful Proposals