How to Use the Power of AI in Proposal Management (Prompts Included)

Kyla Steeves, Content Marketing Manager at Loopio
Kyla Steeves

Ask any proposal pro how they feel about AI and you’re likely to get a wide range of answers. ⚖️

On one end of the spectrum: there’s delighted early adopters who are actively using GPT already. On the other end, you have teams with a hard stance on not using GPT (at least, at this stage).

And then there’s the middle majority: those who are curious about the tool, but not sure where to start. This article is for you—anyone who wants to understand more about using GPT for proposal management (or, steal a prompt or two).

We chatted with three trailblazers to learn how they use tools like ChatGPT in their day-to-day work, the limitations they’re encountering, and what prompts help them respond to RFPs faster.

Read on to learn 3 practical ways to use the power of AI in proposal management:

  1. Kick-start your proposal positioning
  2. Quickly summarize general information
  3. Breath new life into your RFP answers

But First, Watch Out for the Limitations of Using GPT to Respond to RFPs

Are you ready to start using ChatGPT for proposals? Hold on tight. Many companies recommend putting together an AI task force (like Kristen and her team at AECOM) to outline the right course of action for proceeding safely with GPT.

“It’s remarkable what ChatGPT can do. But you have to be mindful of security concerns because anything you put into the open AI system will become public knowledge.”
Kristen Ruiz
Kristen Ruiz
National Governments Content Systems Manager

Here are a number of limitations you should keep in mind:

  • Security Concerns

    ChatGPT pulls from publicly visible sources, meaning anything you feed into it could become public knowledge. “You can’t do that with confidential and proprietary information,” says Kristen, which is why many companies that work with sensitive information should move cautiously when using an open system.

  • Accuracy Issues

    While ChatGPT has a lot of information, not all of it is up to date. “Especially when policies are changing at the drop of a hat,” says Kristen. That’s why it’s crucial to fact check anything ChatGPT provides, even if it cites the source.

  • Plagiarism Risks

    Open AI platforms can repurpose content without the original creator’s consent, which means it can get muddy when figuring out who owns the copyright and intellectual property. So, pass content through a plagiarism checker before including it in a proposal, and be mindful of what you share yourself.

  • Operational Limitations

    ChatGPT has a word limit of 25,000, and the free version tends to kick people out during periods of high traffic. Both of these factors could potentially throw a wrench in your workflow.

Proposals Made Easy: 3 Practical Ways to Prompt AI Tools Like ChatGPT

Whether you’re an early adopter or testing the waters, you’re likely familiar with the pros and cons of using AI for proposal writing. However, knowing how to prompt ChatGPT is also important because what you put into the system impacts what you get back.

“Give ChatGPT a specific role. You’ll be surprised by the kind of responses you get when you give the correct prompts.”
Renee Golding
Renee Golding
Proposal Manager

There are 3 ways to get started with prompting ChatGPT, according to proposal experts.

1. Use GPT to Kick-Start Proposal Positioning

While ChatGPT won’t pull up proprietary information on your competitors (like private pricing, for example) you can still use the tool to scope what’s publicly available about your competition in a matter of seconds. Then, use this quick competitive research to develop your response strategy, positioning, and even proactively handle anticipated objections.

Renee recently discovered this opportunity when determining how to position (what she previously thought of as) a drawback.

“I knew our product couldn’t work offline. So I asked ChatGPT, ‘What is the benefit of not allowing offline work for a cloud-based SaaS company?’ Before my eyes, I saw not just one positive spin, but several.” She then took that list to her product manager and technical staff to ensure accuracy, who vetted the content and approved the messaging.

But there’s another clever way to use ChatGPT for proposal positioning…

Quickly rewriting content for different audiences. For instance, if you have existing content from a previous RFP response, you can modify it in seconds by providing GPT with a simple prompt.

“Our CRM platform is for higher education institutions, each of which has unique traits,” explains Renee. “When writing a tailored proposal, I want to ensure our content fits those traits, whether the RFP is from a religious, military, or community college.”

✂️ Steal This Proposal Prompt to … Build a Custom Content Plan

I’d like you to act as my proposal writing intern. 

I recently created a content plan for [customer segment], which I’ve included below. Can you create a content plan for [another customer segment] in the same format?

[Paste content plan]

Repeat as necessary: ChatGPT is great at generating new content for specific audiences, so play around with different prompt iterations to get a variety of content plan examples.

2. Ask GPT to Quickly Summarize General Information

When responding to RFPs, summarizing large amounts of information can be a time-consuming task due to the sheer volume and unwieldy nature of these documents. Not to mention, extremely agonizing, as you navigate the line between brevity and comprehensiveness.

“Reducing word count is the bane of my existence,” says Ceri Mescall, Work Winning Consultant. It’s not hard to see why. Considering every phrase holds the potential to sway the decision-making scale in your favour, how do you choose what stays and what goes?

With the correct prompts, generative AI can do this for you, whether you’re writing an executive summary, proposal cover letter, or statement of work. For example, you can quickly generate short bios by prompting ChatGPT to summarize a resume or LinkedIn profile (with permission).

“This is a viable way to use the tool,” says Kristen Ruiz, National Governments Content Systems Manager, “Many firms have master resumes with everything on it but the kitchen sink. With ChatGPT, you can drum up a bio that only focuses on what’s relevant to the project.”

✂️ Steal This Proposal Prompt to … Summarize an Executive Bio

You are a proposal manager at [company name] who needs to write an executive bio for the CEO, [first and last name]. Here is a copy of their resume:

[Paste resume]

Please provide an engaging summary in 100 words or less that highlights their relevant qualifications, achievements, and experience for the project outlined in this RFP:

[Paste project summary]

3. Breathe New Life Into Your RFP Answers

According to Loopio’s 2023 RFP Trends Report, proposal teams respond to an average of 77 questions per RFP—that’s a lot of content to cover, especially when you have the added challenge of enlisting the help of subject matter experts (SMEs) for answers.

“ChatGPT can take an answer 80% of the way there. Whenever a SME doesn’t have to start with a blank page, it’s always well-received.”
Ceri Mescall
Ceri Mescall
Work Winning Consultant

When prompted on how to answer RFP questions, generative AI can tackle the first pass, alleviating the daunting task of starting from scratch. From there, you can use what’s known as “chain prompts” to transform an answer to suit your needs.

Some examples of how you can work with both GPT and SMEs include:

🔗 Updates to facts and figures: Have SMEs provide a bullet list of up-to-date information, then prompt ChatGPT to weave the data into your RFP answer.

🔗 Personalize answers to the prospect: Define your target persona to ChatGPT (be sure to provide any key details—like relevant pain points and needs). Then, ask it to customize your RFP answer to suit that persona.

🔗 Infuse your brand’s tone of voice: This is incredibly useful when trying to make all RFP answers sound the same when they come from many different SMEs. Simply provide a prompt to GPT explaining your brand voice and ask it to apply this to your existing RFP answer.

“Just don’t forget to have a feedback loop,” says Ceri, “Always go back to your SMEs and ask them to validate the information.”

✂️ Steal This Proposal Prompt to … Write a Winning RFP Answer

You are a technical proposal writer for a [describe company], specific to [target audience], called [company name]. You offer [describe product or service] and have to explain [describe what the prospect is wanting to know] in an RFP response. Can you answer this question?

[Paste RFP question]

🔗 Chain prompt: Can you update the answer with this data?

[Paste updated information from SME]

🔗 Chain prompt: Can you address these specific pain points and needs?

[Paste prospect details]

🔗 Chain prompt: The people reading your answer don’t have a technical background. Can you make it easier to understand? While making sure it still sounds professional?

It’s Only the Beginning for Generative AI and Proposals

In a rapidly evolving landscape, one thing is clear: AI is here to stay. In fact, some companies are even starting to hire prompt engineers.

“I view ChatGPT as a positive opportunity,” says Renee, “We need to retain our prior strategies and best practices for winning proposals. But now we have this innovative tool to stay updated on technological trends, which can help further our growth.”

At the end of the day, the goal remains the same: to submit a winning proposal. ChatGPT is just one tool in the belt that can help teams make that happen.

See How Loopio Incorporates AI Into Our Technology

Learn more about how Loopio is building a powerful AI-toolkit for RFPs, what’s currently magical in the platform, and which GPT-capabilities are coming soon. 🪄