RFP Tips & Tricks for Your Next Response

RFP Tips

Whether it’s your first time developing an RFP or your 50th, the potential for building a new client relationship is always exciting. RFPs are an excellent opportunity for expansion and growth by opening up new doors for your organization. You may be strengthening your ties with an existing client or hoping to capture the attention of a new one. Either way, when dozens of companies compete for the same opportunity, how can you make a splash in the applicant pool? There’s no guaranteed, tried-and-true strategy for how to respond to an RFP. That said, there are a few RFP tips you can follow to increase your chances of winning a bid.

At the Top of the RFP Tips List: Start Sooner

With big projects, we tend to procrastinate when feeling overwhelmed. Procrastination is probably the biggest barrier to an on-time and successful RFP response submission. Fight the urge to wait and begin the process early on to avoid stress and frustration later on. Even if it’s simply getting ahead on research about a potential client, you’ll be glad you did! 

It can also help to create a document or spreadsheet with a completion date for each required task to keep you on track. Always plan enough time to complete and submit the proposal by the deadline. Leave yourself a few hours, at the very least, to edit and make changes to your response if needed. This way, you won’t have to stress over last-minute details and make careless mistakes.  

Identify Instructions

Make sure your RFP response format matches the RFP’s instructed structure as closely as possible. For example, if the offeror requests that you respond to questions in a provided Excel document, use that spreadsheet as a template and stick with the format. If the request is a fully-designed proposal, then follow that guideline. Once you’re finished, review the proposal and confirm that there are full and complete answers to all required questions. Remove placeholders if needed. Remember that some RFP questions may have limited word counts, so ensure your response doesn’t exceed the allotment.  

Of course, no RFP tips and tricks list is complete without a recommendation to proofread. So, pay particular attention to all required attached documents. Your response should include all necessary attachments (usually in PDF form). This is the easiest section in the RFP to make mistakes because it’s usually completed last. A single missing signature or typo can cost you a bid. Check your attachments carefully, line by line, before your RFP response submission. 

Reply with Reminders

Occasionally, we forget to include an attachment or other required document in our RFP response. We’re human, after all! Avoid this pitfall by creating automated reminders to send to specific staff when you assign deliverables. The RFP response process is complex and lengthy, so tasks are often forgotten. Send out reminders early so each team member knows what he/she is responsible for and when it’s due. 

These reminders can easily be created and sent through a shared calendar attached to an email, such as Gmail. The reminder will pop up as a notification on team members’ desktops. Reminders will ensure the development process runs smoothly and prevent the loss of a bid from failing to include the proper documents.

Need help writing an RFP Executive Summary

Use “Find and Replace” (It’s One of Our Favorite RFP Tips)

Creating a new RFP response from scratch can be tedious. Work smarter, not harder! Our next RFP tip is that there’s most probably existing content in your RFP library you can add to your response. Over time, gather relevant content that you can reuse for future bids. This will save you time and ensure you have a complete library of reactions when you begin a new bid process. 

When repurposing content from previous bids, use the Find and Replace search functionality to update bid target names and other RFP-specific information. To do so, press Ctrl + F on Windows and Command + F on Mac. Be sure to account for small differences and proper sentence structure (abbreviations, possessive contractions, etc.) to confirm that your RFP response has the correct information. And, of course, always review the content in its entirety afterward to make sure all changes are correct.

Diversify Your RFP Response’s Design

Here’s a big RFP tip: Don’t forget the importance of a well-designed RFP response. Once you’ve ensured your proposal is compliant with RFP instructions and you’ve updated the content, incorporate pictures and design elements into your proposal, including:

  • Charts
  • Columns
  • Graphs
  • Hierarchies
  • Text Boxes
  • Pull Quotes
  • Branding Colors

Adding design elements like these will help you differentiate your company and avoid submission of a drab, boring response. Following our RFP tips, like using charts, columns, graphs, hierarchies, and text boxes, organize your response while making it more readable and providing information about why you’re a good fit for the project. Pull quotes or quotations formatted into their own paragraph, provide credibility for your organization, and prove you can deliver on the RFP’s requirements. Incorporating branding colors will make your RFP response memorable and add personality, allowing the target to better recognize your company. 

Simplify Submission

Although submitting an RFP response by mail is still common, digital submission is increasingly popular. Online portal submissions are usually more straightforward and cost-effective. Meanwhile, RFPs shipped by snail mail take longer to reach recipients. So, send those snail mail responses well ahead of the deadline. While it may seem obvious, our RFP tip for shipping is to obtain tracking information so that you know when your documents have been delivered. 

To simplify the process, ask your bid target if a digital-only submission is possible. In this case, the contact will usually provide some online portal for the submission of materials. Read the instructions carefully and note any changes needed to successfully upload your content to the portal (i.e., if your documents don’t fit into the required file size). Be sure to start submitting your proposal at least a few days before the deadline so you can address any technical issues if needed. 

Figuring out how to respond to an RFP and address the complexities of the process can be confusing and time-consuming. Whether you’re just getting started or well-seasoned in the art of RFP writing, your goal will always be to write the winning bid. So, contact us today to learn how The Bid Lab can improve your RFP process and provide more RFP tips and tricks. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation by calling 1-844-4BIDLAB or emailing respond@thebidlab.com.