May 19, 2022
If you've ever responded to a request for proposal (RFP), you are familiar with the relief that comes with submitting the finished proposal. After all, your response is the result of many hours of writing, designing, and reviewing.
In today's digital landscape, a robust strategy for responding efficiently to RFPs is necessary. Nevertheless, responding to RFPs becomes chaotic, vague, and infuriating without a defined RFP response strategy. Worse, unstructured RFP responses frequently lead to unsuccessful bids, resulting in a complete waste of time.
Each project usually has a specific objective and the goal of having a documented RFP response strategy is to create a framework for a more efficient, clear, and practical approach to increasing the probability of winning a bid.
This article will explain the fundamentals of a successful RFP response strategy, including tips, tricks, and best practices for successful responses that will help you in closing the deal.
Advantages of having an RFP response strategy
An RFP response strategy identifies the project objectives and gives a step-by-step plan for achieving them. It's considerably easier to manage an RFP with a response strategy because it breaks down the project into various tasks and deliverables.
So, how can a solid RFP response strategy help with the proposal? Some of the key advantages are listed below:
- Ensures that everyone in the team is on the same page and that the goals are clear.
- Improves the predictability of the process.
- Promotes consistency.
- Creates an orderly approach, making it simpler to respond to unknown issues.
- Improves comprehension of the meaning and aim of RFP’s questions.
How to create the winning RFP response strategy
1. Qualify your RFP responses
Stop bidding on opportunities you are not likely to win. This is the quickest method to enhance your RFP response win rate. It may seem apparent, yet businesses squander tens of thousands of hours each year creating proposals for opportunities that never existed because they lack the courage to reject incompatible offers.
2. Understand the requirements
What are you going to need to finish it? This includes everything from who creates the content to who signs off on the final proposal. The list must be thorough to ensure that nothing slips through the gaps.
3. Concentrate on the issuer's priorities
In your executive summary, focus on the challenges that the issuer wants to solve and how your organization can assist them in doing so. Prove to the issuer that you understand their problems from the first paragraph, and then spell out the advantages of working with you.
4. Assign due dates and responsibilities to key collaborators
What kind of expertise do you require to complete this proposal? Identify all the milestones after you've determined the requirements. There will be due dates for content, iterations, and approvals. The key is to keep everyone's time in mind while moving the process along.
5. Skillfully structure your proposal
Summarize their specific requirements, concentrating on the most time-sensitive and business-critical ones. Recommend the solution that best meets their requirements and outline the advantages. Demonstrate why your company is the best fit for the task by showcasing past experiences.
6. Create a strong value proposition
Determine what the RFP issuer is looking for and connect your differentiators to that objective.
7. Use simple and easy language
Remove technical jargon and write simple sentences to make the RFP easier to read and understand. Eliminate redundant and filler content to make it concise. Add sections so the final proposal can be skimmed.
How to make your proposal response process more effective
To create a streamlined and effective RFP response strategy the following points should be followed:
1. Define the project's goals and objectives
2. Determine who will be in charge of the RFP submission process
3. Schedule and lead a proposal kickoff meeting
4. Prepare a list of queries that require clarification from the issuer
5. Engage subject matter experts (SMEs) for all identified areas of the RFP that require input from experts
6. Create a detailed architecture of the solution you will propose
7. The architecture can be technology agnostic at the first stage
8. Suggest the optimal tools that will help solve the challenges that the issuer is facing
9. If the issuer has specified the tools to be used then use those tools
10. Explain your proposed solution in detail
11. Identify the tasks that can be accomplished simultaneously
12. Group the tasks into phases and list key deliverables for each phase
13. Create a Project implementation plan
14. Propose a team that will be working on the project
15. Describe the roles and responsibilities of each resource
16. Estimate the man-hours for each involved role
17. Determine the cost of your proposal. (You may need to include the financial / sales team for this part.)
18. Compile everything in a proposal document
19. Add heading and table of contents
20. Design and add visual elements to your proposal
21. Ascertain that all of the RFP's business requirements have been satisfied
22. Hold a feedback meeting
23. Get an executive review and approval of the proposal
24. Submit the final proposal before the deadline
Along with what the issuer has requested, the following sections are a must in any RFP response:
1. An executive summary
2. Company overview
3. Defined scope
4. Proposed Solution
5. Tasks and deliverables
6. Implementation strategy/methodology
7. Project duration/timeline
8. Any references or case studies showcasing similar experience
Best practices to follow for an RFP response:
1. Follow the instructions
2. Apply everything you've learned from previous RFP submissions
3. Predict what other vendors would bid in terms of solution, timeframe, and potential roadblocks using your competitive expertise
4. Develop an internal RFP standard, especially if you respond to RFPs regularly
5. Don't put off submitting RFP until the last minute
6. Only respond to RFPs you can win
The role of a pre-sales consultant in an RFP response
Pre-sales consultants are ultimately accountable for the proposal's completion and timely delivery but have several additional responsibilities. The following are the responsibilities of a pre-sales consultant:
Most successful pre-sales consultants have the following skill sets that help them handle proposals effectively:
- Highly organized
- Critical thinkers
- Team players
- Innovative and creative
Finally, the goal of a strategic approach to RFP responses is to decrease the number of hours required to respond to a proposal while also increasing the probability of success.
A more streamlined RFP response process not only saves time but also provides more time to respond to future RFPs with the potential to expand the business.