You have to respond to an RFP or other type of bid request. It’s not always enjoyable but it’s easier when you have a solid, strong chance of being selected. What can you do to not just respond…but to WIN?
Almost anyone can respond to an RFP but not everyone can respond with a bid that gets chosen as the WINNER.
What strategies should you follow to increase your chances of winning?
READ THE RFP CAREFULLY
Read the RFP and its attachments VERY thoroughly! You may encounter questions that don’t make sense or are repetitive of earlier questions.
READ THE RFP – AGAIN
Seriously, this is important. Analyze it and become familiar with every aspect of the RFP Identify the person in your organization who is best-suited to respond to each question or section. Follow all RFP instructions; if it asks for double-spaced type on 25 pages – do it.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
If possible, use your professional and personal networks to learn all you can about the client. Research the client’s history, successes, failures, leadership, and decision-makers.
Submit your questions to the client and read all answers that are distributes to all bidders.
GATHER THE WRITING TEAM
Identify people in your organization who can help answer the RFP questions. Ensure they can commit to drafting, editing, and finalizing. Don’t give a writing assignment to someone who is leaving for a 2-week vacation in the middle of the writing process.
TELL YOUR STORY
Now, the hard work begins! Sell your company.
· Kick off the writing process with a session in which you identify discriminators and “themes” that set you apart from your competitors
· Describe your organization’s experience and explain “where we’ve done this before” by backing it up with evidence.
· Use quotes or “testimonials” from happy clients and use statistics that, for example, show you contributed to saving your client money or doubled the number of unique visitors to their website.
· Illustrate the relevance of project you’ve successfully completed to the client’s upcoming project.
· Include resumes of the personnel your organization would assign to the project and highlight their accomplishments and skillsets that would benefit the client.
CHECK YOUR WRITING
Schedule a checkpoint to review what’s been written and identify the gaps. What if you find several gaps – questions that nobody can answer? This is likely a red flag and a warning – hit the pause button. Ask your supervisor to evaluate whether writing the bid is still a good use of resources.
PROOF IT & FORMAT IT
Find a “fresh set of eyes” in the office to read the bid. Find a co-worker who is a talented editor or can format the bid professionally. Ensure that your contracts manager or an attorney reviews all forms, terms, conditions, and legal clauses in the RFP.
Some clients evaluate bids slowly. Be patient! If you aren’t selected for the work, you should be notified within a few weeks. Consider asking the client for a “debrief” to learn how you can improve your future bids.
At The Bid Lab, we work with clients who don’t have the time, resources, or experience to manage, write, and build their bids. If your organization faces a similar challenge – call us. We are experts on both sides of the equation: how to write and RFP and how to respond to and RFP. Bids and RFPs are our business – all day, every day!