Recycle old proposals: Attention!

Recycle old proposals: Attention!

Amo Chauhan
26. Jul 2022 | 4 min read

Recycle old proposals: Attention!

We are all looking to save time when responding to a call for tenders or writing a business proposal. So inevitably, it is tempting to reuse content to try to optimize this writing phase. Whether copying and pasting content or resuming a model proposal, this method may seem to save you time, but it carries considerable risks.

Re-use an old proposal: Good idea?

It is easy to take an old proposal and adapt it for a new prospect, or transform it into a model to re-use. But, the risks of copying and pasting are numerous. Very often we forget to change the contents from the old proposal such as the customer’s name and company which leads to an impersonal proposal document. This impacts on document validation as additional time and effort is required for proofreading. Each tender and proposal document has different requests and requirements. So recycling your old proposals is not such a good idea, especially when it leads to a drop in quality of content and relevance.

Copy and paste are quickly identified!

Your prospect probably reads a very large number of proposals, so their expert eye quickly detects when we haven't taken the time to correctly personalize the proposal to their needs. Inconsistencies in content, form and tone are easy to pick up if you copy and paste from a document written for a different client, in a different context. Your prospective customer will rightly interpret your proposal as lacking in understanding, consideration, professionalism and effort on your part. All factors that will work against you in any bid and tender process.

Mr. A? Ah sorry, Mr. B.

The ultimate blunder! Despite your best efforts, you forgot to replace the name of customer A with customer B! I’m sure many of you can relate to this disaster. Even the famous Ctrl-F to find and replace can cause problems for you on this point. Also, don't trust or rely on the generic word 'CLIENT' either, this just highlights that you have made no effort to adapt your offer. Beyond using the correct name, you also have to pay attention and have a real focus on the content. Keeping your proposal specific to the client's business, its organization and its context with the right content will give you the desired professional finished result. Something which is only achieved by rewriting your proposal.

The Solution: A reusable content database

A proposal needs to include a large part of personalized content, but also some generic content as text and images. The generic content pieces that are useful and efficient to reuse include, presentation of the company, methodologies, organization charts, product sheets, etc. These are the parts that provide an overview of your business before you deep dive into the personalization elements.

We advise you to set up a library of depersonalized content. This database can contain and include many elements such as blocks of text, graphics, images, customer references, technical data sheets, certifications, etc.

Working in this way allows you to write your response by simply selecting the content that meets your prospect's specifications which you can edit and personalize. Every content block starts with neutral text that you just have to personalize. This way you avoid wasting time searching for information and the pitfalls of copying and pasting.

An up-to-date Content library

Great care needs to be taken when using this approach. Your content library must be updated regularly to reflect the most recent company information, figures, dates, logos, new products, etc. To organize and manage these bricks of content, a Proposal Management tool can be tremendously beneficial.

Similarly, if you are responsible for the design, layout and graphic formatting of your commercial proposals. Quality and consistency in appearance should not be neglected especially when the document is a visual representation of your business. A dedicated proposal tool that does the heavy lifting of formatting and layout for you will make this task substantially easier, quicker and less stressful.

While it's always tempting to recycle an old winning proposal, that doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be a winner every time. Between typos, context errors, time lost in alteration and revision with the risk of totally obsolete content. It is better and safer to start from a blank page to best respond to your prospect. But not completely blank of course! If you can create a well-managed and up-to-date content library, you can build relevant and winning offers extremely quickly each and every time to help you deliver and win more bids.

Related article: 7 Steps to Improve Your Business Proposals

Boost Your Commercial Proposal

Amo Chauhan

Amo Chauhan

Amo has a degree in Applied Chemistry, and 20 years sales experience working in media, adtech and data insight solutions. He enjoys spending time with his children, watching his son play cricket, and cooking with his daughter. He is passionate about powerlifting and most mornings you can find him in a gym lifting heavy weights.

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