Responding to a Request for a Proposal (RFP)

Responding to a Request for a Proposal (RFP)

12 Aug 2020

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This informal CPD article on Responding to a Request for a Proposal was provided by WritersInc, an organization who specializes in technical writing, documentation and training services.

Many responses to an RFP are too much about the proposer and too little about the company requesting goods or services. Atticus Finch says, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

How does this quote apply to responding to a request for a proposal?

It applies at a fundamental level. Unless you have a good understanding of what the requestor needs and can demonstrate you can meet or exceed those needs, you will not produce a winning response.

JoAnn T. Hackos, suggests spending up to 20% of the time allocated to a documentation project on planning. Even if there is a tight deadline to submit the response, it is important to read and plan before you write.

Here are my tips for writing a winning response to an RFP

1. Read and digest all the documents that accompany the RFP. Why? Because reading all the information:

  • Helps you decide if you are eligible to submit a response. If you cannot meet specified, mandatory requirements, there is no point submitting a proposal.
  • Enables you to “climb inside the skin” of the requesting organisation. Preliminary information outlines the organisation’s culture, mission and goals. You need to show you understand the organisation and will be a good fit with them.
  • Means you can prepare to negotiate changes to terms & conditions to the draft contract if required. Payment only after delivery, and final payment withheld until after the project review, can be problematic for businesses, especially when a project is spread over several months.

2. Plan your response

  • Note the timeframes for the RFP process. Late submissions are usually not accepted.
  • Note the weighting for each question. A 20% weighting needs more in-depth information than a 5% weighting.
  • Check the evaluation matrix. Plan answers that meet the criteria for excellence.
  • Send requests for information to your subject matter experts early and follow up so you get the required information in time.
  • Make your deadlines for receiving information realistic. Some people think providing information at 4pm on the day the response is due is fine. Writers know this isn’t!

3. Write with a sense of purpose

Demonstrate your organisation is the best company to deliver the requested goods and services.

So…

  • Write clearly and concisely. Minimise ‘marketing speak.’ Maximise evidence.
  • Use graphs, charts, and graphics to provide evidence, examples, and short referee statements.
  • Answer each question fully, even if this means repeating information. Many responses are reviewed by a panel, with each panel member reviewing one or two questions only.
  • Follow instructions and specifications (e.g. correct font, page count, file size).
  • Allow time to copy edit the response

4. Before you submit, check:

  • All questions have been answered
  • Your responses address the questions asked
  • You have included everything that needs to be submitted
  • You have met all requirements for submission

Remember to demonstrate how your company best meets the requesting company’s needs.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from WritersInc, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

WritersInc

WritersInc

For more information from WritersInc, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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