What To Include In Your RFP Cover Letter

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You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The same is true when responding to request for proposal (RFP) opportunities. A successful RFP response establishes its tone immediately through a well-thought-out cover letter that provides a concise overview detailing to the reader exactly why your organization is best-suited to meet the issuer’s needs.  

An effective cover letter sets clear expectations for your proposal from the start, which makes a world of difference in the eyes of a reviewer. So, the question evidently becomes how can you ensure your proposal’s cover letter is as impactful as possible?

Here are our five tips for writing the perfect RFP cover letter:

1. Reuse previous content strategically.

When responding to multiple RFPs it is not uncommon to leverage standardized responses and templates. There is nothing inherently problematic about reusing content, as long as it is directly relevant to the bid at-hand. Problems present themselves when the writer neglects to tailor its cover letter response to the requesting organization. (There is arguably nothing worse than accidentally forgetting to omit the name of another organization in your cover letter.)

A few simple customizations (that you’ll read about below) can help establish your organization as a responsive bidder that pays close attention to detail.

2. Match your cover letter’s tone to that of the requesting organization.

If you’re responding to a potential government contract, you most likely want to keep things simple and straightforward. But, if you’re instead responding to an RFP from an innovative startup, some creativity through imagery and humor won’t hurt.

Imagine writing a letter to your mom. Now, imagine writing a letter to your best friend. Those letters are going to sound very different. They should. So should your RFP cover letters.

3. Include specific references to the opportunity for which you are applying.

Identify one or two unique characteristics about the requesting organization and incorporate them into your overview. For example, if the RFP involves work in a rural community, reference your organization’s specific experience driving progress in similar contexts. From there, focus on three or four key needs of your potential client. Explain how your team is uniquely situated to deliver solutions in these specific areas, and provide examples that demonstrate the positive impact your team can provide.

Trust us, the person reviewing your bid response wants to know that real thought and effort was applied. Investing energy into providing a few bespoke details in the cover letter will pay dividends for your entire proposal.

4. Address your letter to a specific contact person at the requesting organization.

More often than not, the person to whom you addressed the actual bid response is also the person reading said bid response. And, usually, that contact person has a role in the evaluation of the response itself, helping choose the winning entity. As you would with any letter, you should address the letter to that individual, not an entire organization or “whomever this may concern.”

5. Conclude the cover letter with a forward-looking call-to-action.

Express your willingness to discuss any aspect of your proposal in greater detail with the reviewer at any time. You may also offer to provide additional references or point them in the direction of collateral that will help them in their decision-making. For example, some organizations have informative websites that the issuing party may not know where to find given your mail-submitted RFP. If you have an impressive website, notable reference or a highly-publicized project, mentioning it off-the-bat in your cover letter gives you a leg-up on the competition. It also makes your response more memorable.

If you follow the tips above, your cover letter will provide an effective introduction to your proposal that is specific, concise, and intriguing. The remainder of your bid will expound the key points raised in the cover letter in more detail, but the objective of the cover letter is simply to prove your organization’s response is well worth a closer look. From there, your team will be in a great position to close the deal!

As an organization founded by proposal experts that help our clients on both sides of the RFP marketplace, we have a unique perspective on how successful cover letters are created, and reviewed. The Bid Lab helps businesses navigate the RFP process from inception to submission.

If your organization needs help ensuring its cover letter, or any other aspect of its RFP response, is as reflective of your team’s excellence as it can be, contact us now for a complimentary consultation. You can also learn more about our BidBuilder and BidManager or check out our case studies.

Finding New York RFPs and Bidding in New York

Anything can happen in a New York minute, including finding the perfect New York RFP opportunity to help your business reach new heights.

Whether your organization is NY-based, or simply determined to penetrate the world’s 12th largest economy, winning a bid proposal in NY is no easy feat. The competition in the City and the Greater NY region is fierce, but, as the song goes, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

We often start by helping our partners leverage a variety of available databases focused on proposal opportunities in NY. A few notable mentions are Empire State Development, New York State Contract Reporter, and New York City Economic Development Corporation. All of these databases provide a bounty of centralized, and searchable, bid opportunities to target.

Be Efficient

Once you find a bid that is strategic for your organization, you need to focus on efficiency. Lowering your bid-response time can mean the difference between winning and losing. We speak from experience with our client, drawing on our work with a New York commercial real estate firm. We were able to decrease our client’s response time from more than six months to just one month per building. This allowed the firm’s internal team to resume their hired-for functions. We managed the bid responses, and in doing so, completed proposals for three buildings in three months. When racing against so many competitors in New York’s RFP landscape, every second counts!

Be Creative

So, once you have a strategic bid and an efficient response process, focus on creativity. You need to stand out from the crowded field of competitors. Especially in competitive markets like NY, it is crucial to find what makes you special and to communicate it creatively. A more creative, outside-the-box approach may be your proposal’s best shot at getting noticed and getting a contract award.

It is important to know your audience and to stay within the RFP’s guidelines. However, there is something to be said for we adding a little extra ingenuity to a bid. Whether it is through the use of infographics, relevant images, or other visual flourishes, we find that even the simplest personal touches can help differentiate our proposals from the competition. I find that bid-reviewers value creativity because you are introducing a little variety to their evaluation process. Think about how mundane the evaluation process can get when each and every bidder submits identical looking documents. Supplementing a solid bid with a little flair helps to get your message across more clearly while flexing your creative and technical faculties.

Be Ambitious

And last but not least, I frequently encourage RFP-bidders to be ambitious as they target proposal opportunities. One never knows when the next pivotal turning point for your business will come, and it is worth setting sights high. At The Bid Lab, we recently worked with a Brooklyn-based technology company. Their team was ready to shake up training and safety programs for industries such as design, medical, security, manufacturing, and construction. However, they were also unsure of how to expand funding sources for this new product into the government procurement and funding processes.

The Bid Lab worked with their product team to create a compelling, responsive, and timely proposal. We helped them maneuver through a diverse set of government proposal documentation. These included a technical proposal, a pricing proposal, appendices and a submission questionnaire. Even the company was new to the government procurement sphere, the process was smooth, collaborative and most importantly, productive.

Like most things in the Empire State, success in the competitive world of RFPs and bidding in New York requires grit, speed, ambition, and creativity. Firms from the manufacturing sector, to technology to real estate, and more are all angling for their next RFP win. It’s time for your firm to win too.

If your firm is looking to win an RFP in New York, The Bid Lab is here to answer any and all of your questions. Get started by calling 1-844-4BIDLAB or emailing respond@thebidlab.com.

If you need help finding the right bid for your business, check out our Bid Finder page. Check out our Bid Manager page.