If your serve B2B clients, it’s common for you to respond to requests for proposal (RFP) from prospective buyers. But, many RFPs are complicated and feel overwhelming, which discourages businesses from exploring what makes a winning RFP response.
Learning how to respond to RFPs is critical to business success. The more compelling and responsive your proposal is, the more chances you win new business.
What Is RFP?
According to Wikipedia, A request for proposal (RFP) is a document that solicits a proposal, often made through a bidding process, by an agency or company interested in procurement of a commodity, service, or valuable asset, to potential suppliers to submit business proposals.
RFPs are typically issued as questionnaires for a specific need. If your company has a solution to the problem, you will respond with a proposal including all responses to the questions, pricing and required content.
In this blog, we’ll give you some practical tips to write a successful RFP response.
Demonstrate Your Knowledge of Client’s Request
It’s crucial to understand if the client’s objectives and requests are related to a product or service you can provide. It may seem like you’re repeating what the client wants, but in fact, clients always want to hear how much you understand their requests.
It’s similar to our shopping behavior today. We always look for salespeople who understand our needs better than we do. For example, we’re planning to buy a chair in the furniture store, but the salesperson keeps trying to sell the table—both a turn-off and a waste of our time.
Tip: Briefly summarize the client’s problems in a way that demonstrates you understand what they are asking for before suggesting your solutions.
Speak To Your Client’s Needs
Generally speaking, clients are pretty focused on what they want or need and don’t actually care that much about what you think (Harsh but true!). Assume the only thing they care about is how you can make their lives easier and improve their profitability, and you will be on the right foot.
An RFP response should be valuable, informative and transparent. Don’t forget to mention any social proofs illustrating your professionalism along with the past projects, case studies, or examples that align with the project’s goals.
Tip: Writing in a way that speaks to the client’s goals and objectives trying to achieve.
Pay Attention To The Evaluation Criteria
The client typically uses some form of evaluation criteria to rank the proposals they receive. It’s essential to understand the criteria and be aware that all of your hard work will be judged by that scale. It’s hard to win an RFP that is focused on rapid delivery and low-price when your main talking points are “unbounded creativity” and an “aversion to schedules” (it’s a joke, but you get the idea).
Tip: Think carefully before responding. Focus on the factors that account for the most significant scores.
Keep It Short And Simple
Remember your potential clients don’t expect your sales pitch in response to their RFP. The main goal here is to help them accomplish the project or objective. Keeping your proposal short and straight to the point is the best optimal way to increase the chance to be chosen.
If a buyer can get your answer in one page, having to read 25 pages of fluff is at best annoying, and at worst, likely to eliminate you from consideration.
Tip: Focus on your solutions, how to accomplish your plan, and why you’re a better fit than your competitors.
Be Clear And Descriptive While Answering Questions
Non-compliant responses commonly fail to answer the RFP’s questions, which means you gain a massive advantage if you answer all the questions. Also, your answers should be concise, clear and easy for the client to evaluate. There’s a simple trick for this, but it requires a bit of effort upfront – break down all the questions into all the parts and make sure your response covers everything that was asked.
- Make it clear and evident that you have met the requirements.
- Set realistic expectations that you can deliver.
- Don’t exaggerate about what your business can offer because your reputation is always on the line.
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