Reusing proposal content is kind of like making a movie sequel. You invested so much in the original’s success that it only makes sense to reuse what you can to be efficient and drive more success. The problem is movie sequels often fail. While reusing content can help you get to your first draft quickly, there are certain dangers inherent in relying too heavily on the original for the sequel.
Here are three dangers of reusable proposal content, how to avoid them, and how avoiding them helps you write a winning proposal.
#1 Plot Hole Dangers
You experienced success with the original proposal because it resonated with the audience. It spoke to their pains, their vision and their goals, making it satisfying and compelling. Trying to compel a new client to take action based on a proposal that is in-part written to someone else’s pains, vision, and goals is like trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Like a movie sequel, it sort of fits, but usually fails to hit the mark with the new audience.
Remember, you’re in the business of providing solutions, not mass produced widgets. So, yes, leverage your content library, your past proposals, boilerplate content, and get to your first draft. But don’t stop there. Turn to your team of experts and collaborate. With secure, online tools, your team can come together from anywhere, at any time, fill the gaps, correct the inaccuracies, meet compliance, and tailor your proposal for a sequel that resonates with your new prospect.
#2 Story Continuity Dangers
Whether you pull an answer from your content library or directly from a past proposal, you’re basically cobbling together a new proposal from different sources in order to satisfy the RFP requirements. As a result, you break the story arc and introduce bits and pieces that are out of step with strategy. The story, and its continuity throughout the proposal, is how you compel the prospect to believe, and buy. Just like a movie sequel, if there is no continuity, it fails.
Your review teams are your gate keepers; they provide feedback on where the team may have blinded themselves to certain compliant issues and solution or strategy weaknesses. With the right feedback loop, they can review together, anytime, anywhere, discuss, even consult past versions for clarity, and come to consensus on revisions that transform the bits and pieces of your proposal into a compelling story evaluators want to read.
# 3 Diminishing Returns Dangers
A movie franchise’s diminishing returns happen when they keep doing the same thing. The same is true for reusing proposal content. Following a formula is fine, but when you drop in text you’ve used before, remember, your team’s old habits also come along for the ride, such as not-so compliant answers, grammatical errors, and informative, rather than persuasive, writing. Worse is language that may be unwittingly hiding in there that could cause an issue with compliance.
A new proposal is your team’s opportunity to hone their participation in the sales cycle; to fix previous mistakes, plunge into fresh strategies, bring prospect-specific benefits to the forefront, and win. So, before you start searching, copying and pasting reusable content take a page from the most successful movie sequel directors – start with a fresh script.
Of course, we’re talking capture strategy here, AND annotating each writing task so your team knows how to tailor the reusable content based on the strategy. When you start with the strategy, or story, in mind, you can better choose reusable content and better tailor reusable content to the evaluating prospect. Plus, a lot of downstream proposal problems are easily solved if the team just sits down at the beginning and writes the prospect-specific story.
Leverage and Tailor
Don’t get burned by reusable proposal content. Thinking your team can just “push a button” and automatically create a comprehensive, compelling, winning proposal is highly misleading, and not what you want to risk your pipeline on. Worse, the practice is easily recognized by the evaluator. How can evaluators trust you with their project if you didn’t even take the time to make a proposal specific to their goals?
So, establish your content library of reusable content and use it wisely to craft your first draft. Then, let your teams do what they do best; create, write, review, innovate – and cultivate a more productive online proposal team dialogue that takes your sales cycle to the next step.