Tips to Win After Losing an RFP
We’re here to tell you to not lose hope after losing an RFP. Most organizations, in fact, lose more bids than they win. Loopio published a survey in early 2021 in which they found that the average win rate for RFPs is below 50%. In fact, when they dissected the information further, they found that most respondents actually only won between 20% and 40% of bids. So you may ask, if the numbers are against me, how do I win more RFPs?
To begin with, take each loss as a lesson that your team can learn from. In this article, we share three (3) tips to get your team closer to winning your next RFP.
1. Send the Client a Follow-Up Email to Find Out What Went Wrong
Many firms don’t make time to gather feedback from the prospective client about why they lost a project. But, as a business owner who has dedicated time and resources to creating a perfect response (with the intention of winning the bid), you should be curious to know what went wrong. As the opportunity to work with this client may present itself again, avoid making repeat mistakes.
Your goal is to be gracious with the client until the end. And, the only way you’ll know how to improve your standing for the next bid submission is to kindly ask what went wrong this time.
Example follow-up email after losing an RFP:
Dear Ms./Mr. [Recipient Name],
Our team here at [Your Business] is grateful for the opportunity to have participated in the RFP process with [Client Company]. We appreciate the update and recognize your needs were best met by another vendor, but we’re pleased to have learned more about your industry and organization during the process.
In the hope of participating in future RFPs with [Client Company], I would like to ask for additional feedback on our proposal, as our team strives to continuously improve. We would like to schedule a short 15-minute call to better understand where our proposal fell short. Any feedback you can provide is valuable to our team and to this process.
Kindest Regards,[Your Name]
It’s important to remain confident in your product or service solution(s) while also respecting the client’s decision. The client’s response will be helpful in pointing out areas where your competition stood out. Or they may point out that your response lost due to missed details or an unclear solution(s). Feedback is critical information to implement in your next bid response, especially if you would like the opportunity to work with them in the future.
- Writing a Successful RFP Executive Summary
- The Dos and Don’ts of RFP Cover Letters
- Ways Proposal Writing Differs From Technical Writing
2. Review Your Bid
As part of your pre-submittal process, you should have already reviewed your bid for punctuation, grammar and formatting mistakes. Therefore, your bid should not have been thrown out for being careless or unprofessional. With a fresh pair of eyes, try reading your bid through the eyes of the reviewers — your client — and ask:
- Does this bid speak to my client? You don’t want to sell the general features of your product/service. You want to sell how your product/service benefits your client.
- Is my bid concise? It happens often when responding to bids. Clients never want a missing requirement or detail. Then, it just so happens, you over-submit with too many details. Avoid a level of detail in which the solution you’re proposing is lost on the client. They shouldn’t have to search through too many specifics to understand your solution(s).
Keep in mind that it’s okay to edit. In fact, when your bid is concise and touches upon how you’ll relieve your client’s pain points without overwhelming them with fluffy details, you’re more likely to make a stronger impression. If the client likes your response but wants further clarification in a particular area, they’ll ask. When this happens, you should feel relieved. Because when information is too difficult to understand or too far in the weeds, you stand a higher chance of being tossed out!
3. Schedule a Post-Mortem Process Meeting With Your Bid Collaborators
Remember, losing a bid is a chance for your business to improve, not point fingers. With this in mind, schedule a meeting with your bid collaborators with the intention of discussing how the process can be improved upon.
There’s often a lot to talk through and learn from these meetings. It’s important to discuss what went wrong as well as what was successful about the proposal’s process. You’ll be surprised by what feedback your team will provide by asking:
- What went right during the project that we should repeat again in the future?
- What went wrong during the project that we should avoid in the future?
- What should we change about our process in the future?
Use these questions as a starting point only and let team members respond openly to keep the conversation going. Your internal response process should always be evolving and open to constructive criticism. This includes implementing the feedback from the lost potential client within your response team.
How Do You Win More RFPs?
Responding to RFPs is an evolutionary process. The first response is always the most difficult. The second is familiar, but still not easy. By the third, your team understands what the typical requirements are, the timelines to pay attention to and how to compile your document in the required format. But, as you already know, there are always areas for improvement.
At The Bid Lab, we help clients navigate the entire RFP response process. Many times that process begins with evaluating your previously submitted bid to see which components can be improved upon. From there we can help your team find the perfect RFP to respond to. Then, we’ll help you build a perfectly compliant bid that not only meets every requirement but also speaks to the client — and cuts out the fluff. So, give us a call at 1-844-4BIDLAB. Or, schedule a free consultation by visiting our website. Let us help you make your next bid experience a win for you and your team!