Making tenders and proposals more successful with storytelling

Winning new business through a tender or proposal comes down to convincing the procurement team that your business is up to the task, with the right fit of resources and proven expertise. The goal isn’t just to be the cheapest — it’s to be the obvious choice. But how do you win over the panel and make a meaningful, memorable impression? The answer lies in storytelling.

At its heart, writing tenders and proposals is about persuasion. And what’s more persuasive than a good story? By incorporating storytelling into your tenders and proposals, you make your submission more relatable and memorable, strengthening its persuasive power and setting your business apart.

What are the features of a typical story?

A typical story includes a:

  • Beginning: This sets the scene, introduces characters, and establishes the setting. It ‘hooks’ the audience to keep reading.
  • Middle: This is where the main events or challenges occur and is often what makes the story engaging.
  • End: Conflicts come to a resolution, often with a changed situation or transformed characters.

Drawing parallels with tender writing might seem a stretch, but by adjusting these narrative elements, you can create a winning tender or proposal. And here’s how…

How can you use these features in your tenders and proposals?

When writing tenders and proposals, there should be three key techniques at play:

Technical narratives: The aim is to convey information as simply and clearly as possible. Think of this as “ticking all the boxes” of the required criteria, detailing technical features and capabilities.

Storytelling: This technique brings your business to life, making it stand out in the sea of competing tenders for the right reasons. By integrating a narrative into your proposal, you not only provide data but also contextualise it in a way that resonates emotionally and makes it interesting. Think of it as the tender that the procurement team assessors will remember and say when comparing tender responses: “Oh, they’re the ones who XXX”.

Persuasion: While storytelling draws readers in, persuasion solidifies their belief in your tender’s merit. You should back up your storytelling with solid data and evidence. This builds credibility, making your argument even more convincing.

Why is this useful for writing tenders and proposals?

In any form of communication, engagement is critical. If your audience is uninterested, you’ve missed the mark. While tenders might not be theatrical performances, they’re not just about data transfer either. Storytelling can bridge the gap between a muted “They seem alright” to an enthusiastic “Yes! This is exactly what we need!”

Storytelling in tenders and proposals will:

Stir emotion: Stories evoke emotions that plain data cannot. Whether it’s the satisfaction of a past client, the dedication of your team, or the positive change your product promises, emotions can be a powerful tool in swaying decisions. Don’t shy away from using language that evokes emotions. This can be about the passion your team brings, the dedication to client success, or the innovation at the core of your solution.

Make you memorable: Remember, tenders are reviewed by humans, who are hardwired to respond to stories. Storytelling makes a tender or proposal relatable and memorable, making it linger in the evaluator’s mind.

Simplify the complex: Stories through case studies or scenarios can help the reader visualise how your solution functions in real-world contexts.

Build trust: Sharing past experiences and success stories proves you have a successful track record.

Highlight your unique value proposition: Rather than just listing the features of your offering, a story can highlight why they matter, demonstrating the unique benefits in action.

Address pain points: Every assessor will have concerns or doubts. Stories can pre-emptively address pain points, demonstrating how you’ve overcome similar challenges or how you’re equipped to handle them.

Hold attention: A compelling narrative will ensure they read through your entire tender or proposal and absorb all the critical details.

How can you use these techniques when writing tenders and proposals?

To tell a persuasive story when writing tenders and proposals, your narrative should include a:

Hook: Begin with an engaging opener that instantly captivates. It might be a thought-provoking quote, a relevant statistic, a relatable incident, or even a light-hearted remark.

Problem: Clearly highlight the issue that resonates with your readers. Make sure this is relevant to what the request for tender is asking for and communicate the deeper impact of the problem on your client.

Solution: This is where you come into play. Rather than list your features or sales messages, demonstrate what you help your customers achieve. For example, instead of saying “We have 500 qualified people across Australia”, let those people become part of your story. You could quote them, survey them, include pictures of them, and use them in a case study. Let their qualifications and experience shine through in what they say – your tender or proposal will be much more convincing.

Resolution. This is the “happily ever after” in a fairy tale. Ideally, you want to leave your readers feeling positive about your business. This may be the ongoing impact of your work, or future collaborations.

Putting it into action

Here’s two examples of how to apply these principles in action:

Example 1: Case studies

Case studies are a great way to bring your submission to life and support your claims. Just like a good story, they should have a beginning, middle and end. They present a problem or a need, present your product or service as the solution and conclude with the customer being delighted.

Hook: Describe the scenario, introducing the key characters (you and your client). To really engage them in, give them a taste of the end result, encouraging them to read on to find out how you achieved it.

E.g. “ Inside Job is a large fashion retailer with some 60 stores across Australia. Earlier this year they needed to relocate their central operations from Sydney to Melbourne. Any downtime during the move could mean big financial losses and real disruption to customer service levels.”

Problem: Specify the important details of the job, highlighting what made it difficult.

E.g. “Simply transporting Inside Job’s existing server interstate was risky and could take up to three days. Kaos Computers’ solution was to build a new infrastructure platform at the Melbourne site, running an active data sync process between the states and reconfiguring the WAN network to communicate with the Melbourne data centre.”

Solution and resolution: Demonstrate why your services/product were the perfect solution to the problem. Use facts and figures to demonstrate the difference you made wherever possible. Even if the difference is intangible, spell it out. Perhaps you’ve increased your client’s confidence, energy, or preparedness?

E.g. “This highly complex project was successfully completed with zero time lost and no negative financial or other impacts on Inside Job. Even as the migration took place, the business continued to operate seamlessly, without any outages or discernible change in the customer experience.”

Testimonials: Include a short testimonial from the client to which the case study refers. This acts as a powerful validator of your product or service.

E.g. “Kaos Computers did in 12 hours what we had expected would take several days. Our new system is much faster and flexible, too. Most important of all, there was no negative financial impact to the business or not a single minute of downtime.” Howard Moon, Managing Director, Inside Job

Example 2: Company story

If the RFT or RFP asks about your company background, provide a captivating story about how your business came to be.

Hook: Begin with the spark that ignited the company’s creation. Share the founders’ vision, how it came to life and the company’s purpose.

E.g. “In the bustling tech landscape of 2005, from her kitchen table Jane Smith envisaged a solution that would redefine how businesses approached supply chain processes.”

Problem: Highlight the problem that your business solves. This might be how you identified a gap in the market or a need for your solutions. It’s an opportunity to emphasise what makes you different.

E.g. “Amidst these challenges, our vision crystallised. We didn’t just want to offer another software tool; we aimed to deliver a comprehensive suite tailored to real-world challenges. Our commitment was, and remains, to empower businesses to optimise efficiency and scale sustainably.”

Solution: Convey the core purpose and passion that drives the company forward, beyond just profits. This is the opportunity to showcase the outcomes that you achieve for your customers or clients.

E.g. “Recognising the market’s dire need, our company rose to the occasion. We developed not just another software, but an integrated solution suite, meticulously crafted to address the real-world challenges of XYZ. Our mission became clear: to revolutionise supply chain processes.”

Resolution: Demonstrate how you have grown, highlighting the milestones achieved, and the challenges overcome, showcasing your company’s resilience and adaptability.

E.g. “Today, our partnership with renowned companies like XYZ Corp and CV3 Ltd stands as a testament to our success.

Customer Success Stories: Conclude by underscoring the tangible results you’ve delivered for your clientele, affirming your track record.

E.g. “Our solutions have not only streamlined processes but have consistently delivered a 30% increase in efficiency for our clients, a testament to our dedication and expertise.”

Bring your tenders to life with our professional tender writers

professional tender writer will bring your tenders and proposals to life through storytelling.

Contact us or call us directly on 02 8036 5532 or 0448 566 377 today for help with your tenders and proposals.

  • Need help with tender writing?

    Contact us for more information about how we can make your tender successful.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Share This: