Words Matter to the Voice in Customers’ Heads

When B2B customers read suppliers’ proposals, each individual hears a voice in their head as well as seeing the written words. This subvocalization is a natural process that all humans do when reading. It’s our own inner speech.

Subvocalization helps the mind access meanings to comprehend and remember what is read, trigger mental pictures, and potentially reduce brain overload.

The process is complex and involves many different parts of the brain. Information moves from the lobe responsible for vision to the lobe for hearing, to the planning and decision-making lobe, and moves all around this brainy circuit as we read.

B2B customers are human despite many suppliers’ doubts. So, when customers read sales proposals, they hear a vocal story that’s silent to others but mega-intimate to themselves. You know, like the voice in your head right now, as you read this.

Word Choice Matters

“The words suppliers use in sales proposals become what customers hear in their heads when they read those docs.”

Intelligent suppliers choose words in proposals that create an impactful and persuasive story. Because it’s the only time in the B2B sales cycle when suppliers make their formal, written case for a customer to sign them up instead of competitors.

With so much at stake, why would suppliers use cliched, mediocre, faux-MBA words like “our service is second to none,” or “people are our greatest resource,” or “synergistic integrative management?”

Yet if you read most sales proposals, you wonder if the voice in customers’ heads has become one, long, uninterrupted snore.

Avoid the Road to Word Mediocrity

Who wants to read a proposal that sounds boring inside one’s head?

Customers certainly don’t. Suppliers should write sales proposals with words and stories that keep customers’ inner speech awake and interested.

THIS ISN’T like blogs where key words are stuffed nonsensically into titles and headings to juice search engine rankings.

THIS IS about writing thoughtfully and skillfully with diligence.

Sales proposals written with word choices from the groups below are more likely winners with customers than proposals burdened with low-wattage language. The following are listed in no particular order.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Write using words that are beautiful to the ear, e.g., as found in Jane Austen’s prose, Shakespeare’s sonnets, etc.

OK, this is a little aspirational but leaning into it can elevate any proposal’s attractiveness to customers and its readability.

Contextually Relevant

Stay focused on customers’ situations and provide insights into their wants, needs, choices, and consequences.

“If a sales proposal ain’t about that specific customer, it ain’t a sales proposal.”

It could be many other things such as a generalized marketing piece or informational data dump — but it won’t be a customer-attractive, persuasive proposal.

Emotionally Filled

Strategically and in limited instances include heartfelt expressions to connect with customers’ humanity.

Even Procurement has a heart…somewhere. You can tell because their biggest emotion is the fear of making a mistake that allows a bad, illegal, or costly buy. They try and hide that human side by quantifying subjective sales proposals into objective numerical ratings.

In the end, everyone “buys on emotion and justifies with facts.”

Eccentrically Quirky

Take an occasional risk to include word pictures/descriptions that catch customers off guard.

Surprise customers (yourself too) with something different, like “mega-intimate,” or “faux-MBA words” — rather than using only the most probable, expected words.

Summary in Short Order

  • B2B suppliers must write sales proposals
  • Customers must (should) read those sales proposals
  • Smart suppliers write attractive proposals for the voice in customers’ heads that are best served with word choices that are Aesthetically Pleasing / Contextually Relevant / Emotionally Filled / Eccentrically Quirky


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