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Bidding on Work? One-Size-Fits-All Is Not A Winning Strategy For Your RFP Proposal

Bidding on Work? One-Size-Fits-All Is Not A Winning Strategy For Your RFP Proposal

Many business development or sales people use boilerplate material because it's an easy, expedient way to provide information in a proposal. Unfortunately, most RFPs ask for different information, and both the client and the needed solution are unique, so boilerplate material won't win business.

Each client and their requirements are different. To effectively sell your service and your company, you need to manipulate and edit your boilerplate material in a way that it becomes specific to the current client’s RFP. This is the only way you can incorporate the strategies and approaches that will make the client chose you over your competition.

Excerpt from “Win More Business – Write Better Proposals” available in softcover and Kindle.

There may be a few instances where you want sections of your text to be boilerplate with no customization at all, but even this is a lost opportunity. For instance, when introducing your company's background and history, modifying it to touch on things that will matter and be relevant to the client will give you an advantage. Resist the temptation to take the easy approach – you won't win proposals that way.

In addition, you need to closely review all material you use to make sure that information, names, terms and other details from the source are completely eliminated. You don't want to be including information that identifies it as being from somewhere else and not completely original to the client. Don't just do a 'search and replace'. Read the text and edit each instance, including the client name, to suit the context, otherwise you may end up with some awkward text.

The other risk you have to watch out for with boilerplate material is obsolescence. Boilerplate material, such as the naming of processes or software systems, might be old and not fit your current corporate strategy, organization, priorities or solutions.

If you use boilerplate material, use it simply as a base, not as the final text. The best place to get this base material is from the most recent proposal you wrote that is most similar to the current one. But don't be a slave to the text. If you have two pages of boilerplate material on a topic that really should be three paragraphs, don't be afraid to bring it down to the size that fits the context of the proposal, either based on its importance within the proposal, interest to this specific client, or page limits.

Maintaining a library of material can be helpful, particularly for answers to questions asked frequently in the RFPs to which you respond. You can avoid using outdated answers by adding the most recent material to the library after each proposal. When using library material, closely look at it in the new context, and modify as necessary. Keep several versions in the library and decide which best fits your new need.

While you need to use boilerplate material with caution, it’s easier to adapt something you already have than to write new material from scratch. Just don't let it become a lazy way to respond to proposals. Invest the effort necessary to win, otherwise you’re wasting your resources.

About Michel Theriault

Michel is the founder of Success Fuel for Managers. He is an author, speaker and consultant focusing on topics relevant to Managers and aspiring Managers in businesses of all sizes who want to get results, get attention, and get ahead. He is also a contributor to Forbes and AllBusiness Experts . Michel is available for speaking engagements, training and consulting. Connect with him or send an email.

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