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How to Respond to a Request for Proposal – 2024 Guide

If you own or you’re a part of a small business or a company, RFP or request for proposal might is probably one of the main ways you do business. To respond to an RFP essentially means to convince a client that your company should be the one hired to do the job. RFPs could be about anything and if feel like you are the one who would be most efficient in solving that problem, you should definitely respond to it. Getting the job or being selected to do the job is much more than just offering the best deal, money-wise. You have to submit an adequate response that will convince the client that you are the best there is when everything is said and done. That means presenting yourself in the best way possible, highlighting your abilities, presenting your team, and much more. Today, we’re going to talk about the key factors you need to include in your response to an RFP to secure the job.

First of all, you need to assess the demands. Each RFP is different, therefore, the expectations and requirements vary. What you need to do is understand what it is that client wants exactly, so you can make sure your answer is tailored to those needs specifically. Make sure you put a lot of emphasis on the specifics that the client is requesting and the way you plan on delivering on that. Don’t just use the universal answer for every RFP, that won’t get you anywhere.

Next up, you need to see what the problem is and how you can solve it. Problem is a universal term we use for a thing that needs to be done, just to avoid possible confusion. So, let’s say a company needs a logo, that’s their problem. Because they cannot solve it themselves, they issue an RFP. Now, it is up to you, to highlight your skills, resources, and the way you’re going to approach that problem and deliver the solution – in this case, the logo. Some clients when the issues a request, they will also set specific requirements, so make sure you pay attention to those and present them with the best possible solution that will meet those requirements.

One thing that can sometimes be challenging when we’re trying to present ourselves is staying realistic. We get so caught up in trying to prove we’re the best, we end up creating this nearly impossible deadlines or solutions, just to stand out a bit. Don’t do that. Make sure you stay within your limits, don’t force the timeframe or promise to deliver on something you know you might not be able to. Work with what you got. Consult with your team, or yourself if you’re a lone wolf, and stay in lane.

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Propose possible solutions, realistic schedules, and ideas and you should be golden. Never set yourself up for failure by being overly optimistic, it might damage your reputation and affect future business. If you don’t think you will be able to compose RFP response objectively, you could have professionals do it for you, like the people from thebidlab and you could just focus on getting the problem solved.

Another thing that is always a good idea and might separate you from the rest of the competition is offering multiple solutions. If it’s possible, always try to present the client with alternative solutions to the problem. This will speak volumes about your versatility and ability to come up with different solutions if something unexpected were to happen. Showing the potential client that you are able to tackle the problem from different angles, using different methods, and providing different, yet equally effective solutions will definitely help out.

Now we come to the fun part, making sure you’re ahead of your competition. This is a thin line you have to walk courageously. It takes skill, great wording, and presentation to highlight your strengths, hide your weaknesses without directly stepping on your competition. It should never be about them, only you. Never should you point out the weaknesses of others, it’s neither professional nor effective.

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For example – the smaller companies are not experienced enough or the larger companies will not pay enough attention, that’s the wrong approach. However, making sure that the client knows that you’re completely devoted to their problem at all times and you have dealt with the similar projects in the past, is the way you want to approach things.

One thing that is always welcome when dealing with RFP is showing the client how he could save money on some things while still accomplishing the goal. That’s called providing added value. Your client may have a dedicated budget for some things that are needed in order for the problem to be solved, let’s say you’re up for a construction gig and the client is providing material, which is rarely the case, but let’s say it is just for the sake of the argument. If you can show your client the way he can get the same quality materials for less money, that is a great bonus point for you.

Make sure you always highlight the key parts of your team that is going to tackle this problem. Team members are extremely important for clients because they will want to see how experienced and competent people handling their problems are. Highlight their skills, present them in the best way possible, and let your client see how well you work as a unit.

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Towards the end, make sure you set your schedule. Present the client with the time frame and set specific markers along the way, like when the project will start, when you expect it to end, and what specific goals will be met during that time period. That will provide a client with a better understanding of the project and it’ll help track the progress along the way.

Finally, it’s paramount to provide references. It’ll strengthen your credibility and prove that you’ve already successfully tackled a similar problem. Experience goes a long way in business and history filled with successful projects goes even further. Go through the process of previous engagements – cost, time frame, project size, team, and so forth.

Hopefully, this summary of the key elements of the response to a request for proposal was enough for you to properly construct the next one and secure another job.

About Stefania Trtica