RFP Tips

05 Nov RFP Tips to Make Your RFP Response Shine

RFP: request for proposal // intimidating process in which companies seek vendors, sometimes a waste of time

Answering RFPs, or requests for proposals, is often a time-consuming process that can confound even the most seasoned professional. Some consider RFPs a waste; others consider them effective.

When you’re considering responding to an RFP, first and foremost ask yourself if you stand a good chance. It’s better to say no early than to waste time. If you decide to go ahead, we’ve got some tips on how to stand out against your competitors.

First, read and re-read the proposal and highlight the requirements. Don’t try and revamp any portion of what the RFP requests – comply completely and follow the instructions exactly!

Next, consider your overall theme and template, if you’ve got one. Most businesses have a template for submitting an RFP that has stock answers on organizational capability, team members, case studies, etc. You definitely should have this, but make sure to customize for each response.

Now, onto a few RFP tips to help you put forth your best effort:

Writing Tips

Aside from the content of your response, the actual writing is critically important. Your writing can really separate you from the pack – remember, often the issuer receives lots of proposals and you should assume the reader will skim yours.

You’ve got to ensure that your proposal is clear, concise, devoid of unsolicited or irrelevant information and is easy on the eyes. Generally, avoid shoptalk, jargon or buzzwords – match the issuer’s language, when possible. Use the active voice. Keep your sentences short. Avoid long paragraphs of text and use headings, callouts and graphics wherever possible. Pay attention to typography – don’t get crazy with fonts! If you’re responding via printed material, use a serif font. If your proposal will be read online, use sans serif.

For layout, think magazine instead of white paper. Don’t fear white space and the occasional pop of text. Use images and graphics where appropriate, but make sure they are high-resolution.

Content Tips

Our number one tip on the actual meat of any proposal is the ‘So What?’ test. Focus on the issuer, not you. Speak to what makes you unique, but ask yourself why the issuer should care. What do they get with you? (We aren’t talking about price here.) Sell yourself, but don’t brag! Show, rather than tell, the issuer exactly how your solutions benefit them.

When possible, offer a few brief case studies/relevant examples that highlight the results you’ve brought other clients. Let your work speak for itself.

Make sure you’ve researched the issuer – study the brand, the market and the company. Show you’ve done that homework. Go that extra mile!

Lastly, proofread, proofread, proofread some more then have someone else proofread. We cannot overstate this – one typo, one misuse of a homonym or other simple error can blow your credibility, make you seem unprofessional and land your response in the trash.

So now you’ve got some great writing and content tips to help make your RFP responses shine! And because you’ve read this entire post we’re going to let you in on a little secret – submit early! Want to really stand out with minimal effort? Here’s our secret RFP tip: send in your response 24 hours before deadline. You’re welcome.

Need more help with RFPs or general marketing or business consulting? View our services!