I was sending off a proposal to a very large manufacturer. I read and re-read and edited and re-read the proposal. I thought everything looked good. (Looking back, I’m cringing at how awful the proposal probably was, even without the big faux pas.) Then I realized I forgot something. I copied and pasted some legalese from a different proposal. It was close to midnight. I glanced at the pasted text. Everything looked good. It was until I pulled up the proposal the next day to prepare for a follow up conversation that I got that awful sinking feeling in my stomach. Why did I have a customer name in the middle of the legalese? And why the f&^# was that name the wrong one?!?
I didn’t win that project, although I did later do work with that customer, when I learned to actually have the right name in all parts of the proposal.
As far as I know, I never did it again, but I can’t even be 100% sure of that.
Of course, I was terribly embarrassed. The prospect was nice enough not to mention it, although I know they noticed it.
Yes, this is a case of bumbling incompetency. Sadly, I’ve learned that it’s hardly rare. As I’ve worked with more and more companies on proposals, people have shared similar stories. Sometimes it’s just pasting in a paragraph with a different font size. Sometimes it’s a pricing error that makes the entire project unprofitable. Often, it’s just what I did– copy and paste one last paragraph. Even when someone’s doing that final “Find & Replace” on the customer name from the starting proposal document, they don’t catch this paragraph because the customer name is different.
When I help people import existing proposal content into Mimiran, we typically start with the “last really good proposal”. About 30% of the time, there’s a paragraph or more with the wrong customer name.
(With Mimiran, you use a merge field for the customer name, so you never have to worry about this– the customer name gets populated throughout the proposal automatically.)
If you don’t mind fessing up, leave a comment with a story of when you (or a friend, or a vendor) accidentally left some information behind from the last proposal.