BulletPoints Newsletter: 3 Brain Hacks that Make Your Proposals Win More

In today’s BulletPoints newsletter: 3 crazy brain hacks that make prospects buy – even though they really shouldn’t work.

Some of the tricks I talk about in the video seem like they absolutely should not work.

But they do! We look at the research behind each of these brain hacks as we talk about them in the video. And, overall, they could easily amount to increasing your wins by several percent.

So, for someone who currently wins about $100 million in contracts per year, we’re talking about $4 or $5 million more per year just by including one or two keywords. That means, in five years, the few minutes you spend watching the video will be worth around $25 million. Not too bad!


The tangibility bias:

If you’ve ever wondered why people buy gold and silver in the face of economic uncertainty, or why people are more likely to own a single house instead of investing in a diverse array of real estate holdings from across the country or even across the world, you were confronting the tangibility bias.

Something is tangible if it takes up space in the real world. Something you can touch or hold.

Compare that to a mutual fund. With a mutual fund, not only is it a very theoretical type of ownership that you have in all these companies, but you don’t even have the stock certificates — you have shares in a mutual fund that has the stock certificates.

And so? Several really exciting studies out of Boston University have shown that people prefer tangible things because the quality of tangibility itself provides a misleading impression of lower risk.

Are light bulbs already going off?

Let’s try it out. Would you rather invest $50,000 in actual, solid gold bars that you could sell in the case of a financial emergency, or would you rather invest the $50,000 in a security like the iShares Gold Trust ETF, which tracks gold prices?

Most people say that the physical gold feels like the safer investment. After all, if the economy goes south, you’re not left with worthless piece of paper. You have a physical product that you can trade and barter.

But… how often has the entire economic system completely and totally collapsed?

Well… never. It has literally never happened. But what does happen every single day in every single country in the world? Fires. Robberies. Burglaries. Greedy relatives. Accidents.

The same thing applies to houses. People think a single house is less risky than a security that’s diversified across all sorts of real estate.

We all know the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” and that’s the basis behind the entire field of financial economics and portfolio theory, but people don’t make decisions based on abstract reasoning about portfolio theory. A tangible product feels safer to the gut, and so that’s what they choose.

In fact, some follow-up studies show just how crazy our preference for tangibility can get.

What does this mean for your proposal or your sales presentation? Find ways to incorporate tangibility into your proposal offering as much as possible.

But you can also emphasize tangibility with services.


Money vs time:

Depressed proposal writers tend to think that everything comes down to price.

What everything really comes down to is actually value. The problem is that value can take many different forms — that’s why blaming price is so easy.

Two of the major components of value are money and time. Money can be increasing revenue or profit, or could be decreasing costs and fixed expenses. Time can be producing more of something, doing it faster, being more efficient, eliminating waste and removing obstacles.

Research has shown that activating thoughts about time (as opposed to money) improves people’s attitudes toward your products and makes them more likely to choose you. The reason this works is because, when you emphasize time benefits in your proposal, you’re emphasizing the experience that the prospect will have with your product or service. This increases the prospect’s sense of connection with your offering.

This is a major revelation and the proposal writer who can take advantage of it stands to win a great deal more. On top of that, it’s been replicated in dozens of studies in a wide array of situations.

It turns out that people think differently about time than money. You can’t make up for lost time. Wasting time is more painful than wasting money. Additionally, because the measure of time is much more ambiguous than the measure of money, people are more willing to spend time on high risk propositions. They don’t feel like they’re risking as much.

So this one is simple. Emphasize time savings, improving quality of life, efficiency and productivity gains, and other time-related sources of value whenever possible (except when using the third brain hack).

This doesn’t mean not to include money-related sources of value. It just means to make sure you’re also including quantified value propositions regarding time — something the vast majority of proposals lack.


Anthropomorphized offerings:

This one is the craziest of all.

At the University of Toronto, some clever researchers ran a series of studies to find out how the time versus money dichotomy interacts with anthropomorphized products.

What they found is that there is actually a special combination of words and images that lead to over a 20% increase in people purchasing your product. That combination is:

1) selling a functional product (something that people buy strictly for the use of it) by

2) by emphasizing monetary values (and avoiding time values) with an

3) anthropomorphized image of your product.

If you do that then, believe it or not, research shows that people will rate your product about 20% higher than they would with the exact same version but with a non-anthropomorphized image.


Try these out and let me know how they go. We’re already hearing some great feedback from people who put some of the tips from our previous BulletPoints into practice. And I can’t wait to hear feedback on the successes you get from this one.

Got forwarded this link and want to sign up for BulletPoints yourself? Sign up here.

Wanna see if the jokes in the previous BulletPoints are funnier than these ones? Check them out here.

In the meantime, happy holidays! May Santa put a whole lot of wins in your stocking!

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