Winning proposals are easy to write. Well, that’s if you know what content and messaging to include. Content libraries can help drive proposal automation. However, sometimes content libraries become time traps. Or worse, they’re home to inaccurate or outdated information. Here are a few best practices to let your content library work for you, not against you.
Try Out Proposal Automation Software
There are many proposal automation tools available to streamline the proposal process. Additionally, these tools quicken the creation process and improve team efficiency. When choosing proposal automation software, be sure to compare their ease-of-use and accessibility. Functionality and user experience are especially important when multiple team members must be onboarded to the platform.
Don’t Rely on Past RFP Content
Other ways of organizing content include shared folders and spreadsheets. But always remember, as Loopio pointedly states: “A collection of past RFPs is NOT a Content Library.” If you rely on past proposals to build content you are doing your team no favor.
There are a number of reasons to resist copying and pasting past proposal content. The most obvious reason is creating errors. Past content usually contains another brand’s name. This can be detrimental if seen by a proposal evaluator. Leaving in another brand’s name creates the image that:
- This is untailored, recycled content.
- You didn’t take the time to review your own work.
- What about non-disclosure? Forming a partnership with you is a potential security risk.
Now if you’re thinking, “I can just do a find and replace to swap out the brand’s name.” You’re also overlooking the focus of the content. Chances are that content that won a contract with one client won’t resonate with others.
Build Out Technical and Background Answers
Most proposal teams can bet on a list of common questions in the RFP process. RFP questionnaires usually contain background questions (founding date, partnerships, investors) and technical questions (performance KPIs, payment options, NAICS code). These answers are usually one line or less and don’t require specific tailoring. Make sure that while the answers do reflect accuracy, they are also available for quick reference in the proposal content library.
Store Graphics for Fast Download
Graphics and images are extremely important in adding value to a proposal’s content, but only if added effectively. Images that are blurry, stretched, or pixelated will lower the quality of your proposal. Poor image quality can occur when images are copied and pasted into a document file. Inserting images directly from the saved source file will produce higher quality images. This is an especially important consideration when working with programs like Adobe InDesign, or preparing a file to print.
Recommend Proven Responses
Be your content’s champion. If you’ve found success in content in other bids, let your team members know. Mark successful content with either a tag or a comment. Other writers and proposal management should know about its value. These responses can be tailored to meet proposal messaging. Quote Roller suggests speaking like your prospective client. Encourage proposal writers to realign responses to your overall proposal messaging.
Rework Content for Other Purposes
Is there a more concise way of stating something? While long form content is successful, some RFPs encourage short answers or have a word limit on answers. If the RFP guidelines require you to submit via a spreadsheet, then it’s even more encouraged to keep answers shortened. If you have a case study or policy document that explains a concept best, simply reference the appropriate attachment.
Messaging and tone changes depending on your relationship to the client. Renewal proposals sound entirely different from presales. Craft content that speaks to current or past partnerships. Likewise, rework content to add into sales presentations, letters, and other supporting collateral.
Never Stop Editing
Content reviews are essential to winning strategies. Take time to continually parse through your content library. Assess each piece of content to see if it still holds water. If not, be sure to update the content and make other proposal team members aware. Along with content relevancy, be on the lookout for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Although trivial, it’s important to stop these answers from spreading into future proposals.
Continue to Organize
Asking yourself where a piece of content went is a common proposal challenge and frustration. Sort content by content type. For instance, you can create sections in your content library for answers regarding your corporate profile, security, and payment options. Adding keyword tags increases the functionality of content search.
This ebook is developed to spotlight some of the ongoing challenges proposal teams face, and to provide the fundamentals in creating winning content. Download this free ebook now to develop written and technical skills with decision-making expertise.