Why writing for different personalities is important to win more work
Whilst tenders are scored against formal evaluation criteria, if your response isn’t interpreted in the way you intend it, you may miss out on valuable marks.
How we subconsciously take in information depends on our personality preferences, even when working within a strict scoring framework. There are many tips available on winning writing styles and structures and, whilst this is valuable insight, it’s often a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t take into account the individual personalities of those evaluating you.
How can our personalities affect the way we process information?
I recently worked on a tender with a very limited word count, which meant being creative in how we presented information. A diagram was produced to illustrate the team structure and reporting / communication channels. As big picture people, the content and message was absolutely clear to me and a number of others, but one person in the team could not make any sense of it. It wasn’t a complicated structure, but she was much more detail orientated than we were and was not processing the information in the same way. Fortunately, this was picked up during a bid review and all it needed was a brief narrative and some headings within the diagram for it to become clear. However, if that had been submitted and evaluated by someone with a similar preference for detail, it could have received a low score, despite hitting the evaluation criteria for others.
Communicating with different personalities
Customer personas are commonly used in marketing to better understand the audience and respond to their unique motivators. Taking a similar, personalised approach during work winning can improve your submission and ensure that your message is communicated effectively, to all.
Whilst you may not know the evaluation team, it’s safe to assume it will include a mix of personalities, so it’s good practice to make sure each of your answers reflects all communication preferences.
The following are four typical personality types and their communication styles.
Dominants are goal driven and place great importance on the bottom line and time. They want to know what can be achieved and by when.
Persuaded by: results, efficiency and innovation
Language style: direct and straightforward with no waffle
Content type: high level information, headlines and visuals
Influencers are people focused, driven by collaboration and culture. They want to understand the impact on their teams and stakeholders.
Persuaded by: cohesion, team success and the well-being of others
Language style: personal, empathic, people focused
Content type: testimonials, case studies and people imagery
Steadies are risk averse, resistant to change and place great importance on trust. They want to know their project will be delivered on time and to budget.
Persuaded by: reliability, experience and stability
Language style: professional, technical, collaborative
Content type: methodology, project structures and bullet points
Compliants are highly analytical and systematic – they place great importance on processes and procedures.
Persuaded by: evidence, policy standards, accreditations
Language style: detailed and methodical with lots of data and evidence
Content style: process maps, procedures and statistics
How can one answer meet the needs of four different personalities?
It can be difficult to do this within a restricted word count and consistent style, but it can be achieved.
For example, an answer on communication methods might include:
- Headings and high level narrative on the benefits of your communication style
- A diagram showing the culture, behaviour and values underpinning your approach to communication
- Structure chart showing communication channels and governance
- Photos of happy teams
- Appended case study on where this has worked well previously
- Client testimonial
- A table detailing your proposed communication tools and channels, including frequency, purpose, objectives, participants and KPIs
- Carefully crafted language that builds a connection with the reader
It may feel like you are repeating yourself at times, but it won’t seem that way to most readers as they will focus on discrete pieces of content. Before submitting your bid, it’s also worth having a selection of personalities review it to ensure you have included something for everyone.
Social value in tendering is not new but it has changed. The times of token Corporate Social Responsibility commitments are gone.
This guide highlights the types of people and skills you need in order to win tenders.
I often write about the challenges facing established bid teams but if you’re completely new to tendering for work, you might be wondering where to start.