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Successful Reques For Proposals(RFP)’s must stick in the client’s mind so when they evaluate the proposals and chose a winner, they are comfortable and confident in your ability to do the job.
Unfortunately, many service companies tend to rely on a lot of boilerplate material and equipment / product flyers when putting together their proposals. The lack of details and effort won’t excite the client or hold their attention when they evaluate your proposal.
A winning bid must be customized to the client’s situation and linked with the specific scope and unique needs of the client. Rather than using boilerplate or including generic information, the reasons for choosing you need to be described specifically – sold – to the client based on the solution, features and benefits that distinguish you from the competition and solve their needs.
Instead of general solutions, your proposal must speak directly to the client’s needs and provide details that show that 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, including 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. Make a list of them and match them to your boilerplate information. 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 key phrases, words, terminology, acronyms, job titles, etc. and incorporate these into your boilerplate material. Either replace your terms with theirs or explain how your our terms relate directly to theirs.
3. If you use pre-written descriptions of your experience or resume’s, 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 to the sheets that describe those benefits to the client.
4. Don’t just do a search/replace with the client name in your boilerplate material. Make sure the context of each one still makes sense and when possible, change from using the client name to ‘you’ or you’re’, for instance. 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 solution with their needs. Reword descriptions of processes and related flow-charts or organization charts to match the client’s organization.
5. Re-structure your text 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 they use to evaluate you with. Add headings to make it easy for the evaluators to find it. Even if you don’t restructure your proposal, use headings and even numbering that relates 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. Even if you don’t make many changes to your boilerplate text, add sidebars, pull-out boxes or summary paragraphs that specifically link your text to the client’s needs and explains your benefits and advantages over the competition using terms and phrases from their 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 increase your evaluation scores.
About the Author:
Michel Theriault is an independent consultant with experience writing successful RFP responses and has worked with client organizations to develop RFP specifications, questions, evaluation matrices and performance metrics in addition to training evaluators and evaluating RFP responses. His upcoming book, “Win More Business ... Write Better Proposals” helps service providers improve their proposals.
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