Your proposal must stick in the client''s mind so when they evaluate it and chose a winner, they are comfortable with and confident in your ability to do the job.
Unfortunately, many companies tend to rely on a lot of boilerplate material and equipment or product flyers when putting together their proposals.
The lack of details and effort won''t excite the client or hold their attention when replying to requests for proposals (RFPs).
A winning bid must be customized to the client''s situation and should be linked with the specific scope and unique needs of the client.
Rather than using a boilerplate or including generic information, the reasons for choosing you and your company need to be described specifically.
Additionally, this information needs to be sold to the client based on the solutions, features and benefits that distinguish you from the competition.
Instead of general solutions, your proposal must speak directly to the client''s needs and provide details that show you understand the client, support what you are saying and that you know how to serve them.
Use these six techniques to customize your boilerplate material:
1. Research what''s important to the client
Find issues or hot buttons by networking, speaking with people who are familiar with the client and by searching the Internet for news and articles about the client.
Find presentations and articles given by the client''s decision-makers to understand what they care about.
Edit your proposal to address these issues within the boilerplate material and describe the benefits you have related to their issues.
Use headings to clearly identify the customized material.
2. Scan the RFP documentation for keywords
Look for phrases, words, terminology, acronyms, job titles, etc., and incorporate these into your boilerplate material.
Either replace your terms with theirs or explain how your terms relate directly to theirs.
3. Customize content to the client''s interests
If you use pre-written descriptions of your experiences or resumes, edit them to focus on issues that matter to the client.
Pull out items from your experience or resumes that relate most directly to the client and emphasize them.
If specific features of your equipment specifications or service processes address the client''s unique requirements, add a separate section that describes those benefits to the client.
4. Don''t just do a search and replace
Never simply replace an old prospect''s name with that of the new client in your boilerplate material.
Make sure the context of each one still makes sense and, when possible, change from using the client''s name to "you" or "your."
You can also replace the generic company name with titles and department names when applicable.
Change system, process or other terminology to match theirs.
This makes it more personal and easier for them to link your solutions with their needs.
Reword descriptions of processes and related flowcharts or organization charts to match the client''s organization.
5. Re-structure your text
This should be done to match the evaluation matrix and evaluation criteria.
Put your information in the same order they will be evaluating it and separate out information that specifically supports the criteria with which they use to evaluate you.
Add headings to make it easy for the evaluators to find specific information.
Even if you don''t restructure your proposal, use headings and numbering that relate directly to the evaluation criteria or include a summary table that pulls out the key information and presents it using the same format as the evaluation matrix.
6. Add some pizzazz
Even if you don''t make many changes to your boilerplate text, consider adding sidebars, pullout boxes or summary paragraphs that specifically link your text to the client''s needs.
This information should also explain your benefits and advantages over the competition using terms and phrases from the client''s scope of work and specifications.
Saving time and effort with boilerplate material isn''t the way to win more business.
By using these techniques, you can modify your boilerplate material with minimal effort and create a more compelling proposal that will be appreciated by your client and will increase your evaluation scores.
With 20 years of facilities management experience, Michel Theriault now works with suppliers and facility managers to improve results. With his unique perspective from both sides and his track record of winning proposals, Theriault helps suppliers write compelling proposal responses. His new book "Win More Business – Write Better Proposals" is now available. For information, visit www.howtowinmorebusiness.com, www.strategicadvisor.ca or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.