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36 ways to tailor proposal re-use content before using it

Take our proposal re-use challenge!

When you recycle proposal content, you can’t rely on people to simply tailor it. You can’t rely on them because you can’t count on them to be aware of everything that has changed. Unless you tell them.

Re-using proposal content requires more than just updating it. It requires changing the context to reflect everything that has changed about the customer, your company, your offering, the competitive environment, and the external world. 

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People often think nothing has changed. Sometimes this is because the work that they will do on the project really will be the same as what they did before. However, while the work may be the same, the words required to win it likely will have changed far more than anyone realizes. 

I challenge you to find out. I challenge you to do a before and after comparison. The challenge is to compare your current circumstances with the previous circumstances to determine what has changed in the environment that should also change the writing.

It’s a simple before and after comparison. Only it’s not so simple. There are a lot of considerations. After reviewing them you may confidently conclude that nothing has changed. Or you might discover that it will take longer to edit what you have than to create something fresh. I’m betting that re-use will only save you time if you do not properly assess what needs to change. But take the challenge and find out.

If you have or intend to build a proposal re-use library, you should build in procedures for doing this assessment every single time your content is recycled. You should challenge your users to prove that re-use is safe and that it will save time.

For PropLIBRARY Subscribers we’ve turned the following considerations into a form for quick implementation. PropLIBRARY subscribers can also use MustWin Now to guide your proposal contributors to make considerations like these and write your proposals based on them.

Consider each of the following to determine what is different about the circumstances for this proposal that should be used to tailor your re-use material:

  1. Who will perform the activities described?
  2. Who will receive the results described?
  3. Who will be impacted?
  4. Who will interact?
  5. Who will oversee performance?
  6. What RFP requirements are new?
  7. What is required to achieve compliance under the new RFP?
  8. What RFP contract terms and pricing requirements have changed?
  9. What RFP formatting and submission requirements have changed?
  10. What RFP terminology is different?
  11. What matters to this customer?
  12. What points should be made?
  13. What results need to be achieved?
  14. What approaches, procedures, methods, etc., need to change?
  15. What tools, assets, resources, etc., are needed?
  16. What subcontractors or teammates will be used?
  17. What needs to be updated?
  18. What differentiates our offering?
  19. What is required to get the highest score under the new evaluation criteria?
  20. What risks are anticipated?
  21. Where will work be performed?
  22. Where will deliveries be made?
  23. Where will work products be used?
  24. Where will resources be obtained from?
  25. How will schedules change?
  26. How will the customer be impacted?
  27. How will risks be mitigated?
  28. How will quality assurance be achieved?
  29. How will roles and responsibilities be defined?
  30. When will performance start and end?
  31. When will interactions occur?
  32. When will decisions be made?
  33. When will customer participation and input be required?
  34. Why were these options selected and these trade-offs chosen?
  35. Why does what we’re proposing matter?
  36. Why is what we’re proposing this customer’s best alternative?

We prefer to use questions like these in MustWin Now to drive people to write a great proposal that is a perfect match for the new circumstances and is optimized to win. Writing to win is profitable. Recycling to avoid writing may enable you to complete the document but is less profitable. The increase in your win rate easily pays for doing your proposal well compared to taking an easier approach that produces a less competitive proposal.

Instead of accelerating your efforts and helping you get ahead, recycling proposal content means starting from behind. Instead of thinking it through and moving forward, recycling proposal content means you think it through and then go back and have to think some more about how to fix what was done before. You may actually have more work to do because you started from something already written. But often the only way to get people to realize that is to have them try. So challenge them!

Let's discuss your challenges with preparing proposals and winning new business...

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A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.

Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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