Does the proposal you submitted last week sound like the one you pitched six months ago?

Join me for a free 30-minute webinar on Thursday 2 May 1.00pm AEST to find out to how build a great proposal library by harnessing the knowledge - and building the skills - of your subject matter experts. Pretty much every organisation has a ‘library’ of past proposals that they draw from when writing new ones. In theory, content libraries should help you answer the questions that come up - in one form or another - in all RFTs. These are core issues that every prospect wants to know about, including your past experience in similar contracts; customer references; capacity and resources; approaches to quality; approaches to Health, Safety and Environment; innovation; and risk management.

Proposal content libraries are important for knowledge management and to make the production process faster. However, the way that they are built and used tends to hinder – rather than help – the proposal effort.

Firstly, just the fact that the library exists tends to make people lazy. I see far too much cutting and pasting and not nearly enough thinking about what the RFT is asking and what the proposal really needs to say.

Secondly - let's face it - writing proposals isn't most people's favourite job to begin with, coming as it does on top of a mountain of other work. Because of this, I've seen many organisations employ writers to produce content for proposal libraries. But this is a bit like asking the cabin crew to fly the plane.

Good proposal content comes from experts who know what they are talking about. Passing the content development task off to ‘writers’ means that material is often superficial, because experts are busy and it’s difficult to get their time for interviews and reviews. The process gets drawn out and expensive, and leads to a one-shot outcome that is quickly out of date. Content is written descriptively, rather than persuasively, meaning that it lacks any expression of customer value. All of this leads to lacklustre proposals that lack insight and depth.

Writing persuasively is about taking what you know and putting it into context that the customer will understand, and that convinces them to see things your way. This is a skill that anyone can learn, and the process for doing so is actually very simple. If you missed the webinar, contact me to find out more.