If authenticity is being "true to one's own personality, spirit, or character", we all have a long way to go with our proposal responses. We just do. Let's face it. We are conditioned to polish and sanitize our messages-- often to the point of losing meaning and impact. We're too often afraid to take a position in a bid out of fear that it might not jive with the client's world view. I think it's worth the risk-- here's why...
While it takes guts, presenting ourselves, our teams, our ideas, solutions, constraints-- all of it-- authenticity is better business. Think about your own major purchases. We gravitate towards (and engage) people who seem real, connect, and tell a simple story. James Noble wrote a great piece here with practical tips on infusing authenticity to spur growth. His points are relevant for the time before and after your RFP.
But how do you reflect your team's personality and perspective while writing your proposal response? Try writing the way you'd actually speak to the client. To do this well, you have to imagine that you already have a trusting relationship. If this is a new client you've never met, it gets a bit harder. Writing the way we speak means using simple words and straightforward analogies. Of course, this isn't an excuse to ramble or circumvent clean grammar.
There is also tremendous credibility to be gained by being upfront with the real challenges you expect. This demonstrates your knowledge of the subject and ability to plan around the problems.
Another suggestion from copyblogger that I love (number 7 here)-- though I'll admit to not trying it yet-- is reading your content out loud. Agh. Just the thought makes me shudder but I can see how it might work. Given the volume of content that we often write, this wouldn't work for the entire prop but maybe just the intro? I'm going to give it a shot next time-- only once I'm sure I'm home alone with the doors and windows locked and all of the appliances running.