Using boilerplate material is the easy way to write a proposal, but like everything else, the easy way isn’t usually the path to success.

To win, you need to provide custom writing that speaks to the client and their needs with details, facts and information that matters to them. That means thinking about what needs to be said and saying it, not just using boiler plate material and cutting and pasting what you said in the last proposal.

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The way to win business with your proposals is to strategically determine what to say and how to position your service or product so the client will say “Sign them Up!” when they evaluate you. It means custom writing.

Simply using boilerplate material and doing a quick scan and a ‘find/replace’ means you haven’t done anything strategically to sell to the client. In fact, you haven’t sold at all. You’ve simply sent them a bunch of words on paper. You might even mistakenly leave in something that tells your client all you did was a cut and paste job. How do you think that will look to them?

Remember, the client and most importantly, the bid evaluators, are actually real people. Like you, they want a little recognition. They like to know their business is important to you. They want to read things that resonate with them and they should be nodding their head up and down as they read what you write, fully believing that you understand their needs intimately and are responding directly to their interests with a clear, detailed solution that fits their needs. They also should feel that you understood the intent of the question, not just the words.

Quite frankly, boiler plate proposals are often the easy way out if you are overwhelmed or feel that the more proposals you pump out the door, the more you will win. In fact, you should focus on winnable bids and do everything in your power to write them to win. That’s the way to have a higher rate of success.

I use boilerplate only as a foundation for proposals. For every question you need to respond to, scan through past proposals to find the ones that match as closely as possible, which may not always the last proposal you wrote. You may end up drawing on several proposals to assemble the right base material.

You can try using software or keep a library of specific responses to specific questions, but you will probably spend more time managing it than simply keeping track of proposals on your system in well structured folders and scanning through them when you need something. Be sure to keep everything. Don’t be like a past client who couldn’t find a major proposal they wrote several years back. It would have helped them write a new proposal that was very closely related. They couldn’t find hard copies and they had no idea where the soft copy files went.

What you should also do is keep all source graphics, tables, org charts, etc. in a separate file folder. That’s the editable originals, not the graphic renderings you use to insert into the proposal . That makes it easier to re-use that material.

Also, , maintain a library of the strategic work you do for the proposal. Your SWAT analysis, your research on the client and your competition, your messages and ‘unique selling points” or USP’s, how you respond to hot buttons and anything else that may apply to a future proposal.

The best process is to first do your strategic planning, establish your message, find and hit the client’s hot buttons, do your research, find ways to mirror back to the client, figure out how to address important things, decide what will get their attention and structure the response to get your message across without clutter so the evaluator will simply tick off the boxes on the evaluation form without having to search for info.

Then, weave this in with the boilerplate text. It’s a lot easier than writing from scratch, but still harder than simply plunking down a few paragraphs from an old bid. It will be more successful, too.

Don’t think of your older material as boilerplate, hard and unyielding. Think of it like Silly Putty, highly malleable and very flexible, and put the effort necessary to impress your client and win more business.


Our Book "Win More Business - Write Better Proposals". is now available at Amazon in many countries, including the USA , Canada, UK, Japan, Germany and France. You can also order it directly from the author on this website

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