May 22, 2018
Requests For Proposals (RFP)1 from prospective customers are a pretty "run-of-the-mill" part of having a business when it comes to both writing and receiving them. RPFs are challenging to write and if you are writing them to other businesses, it's key that your business is writing effective RPFs when proposing business deals so that the company you are inquiring to understands what deal you are proposing and what both you and the client gain from this proposed business transaction or relationship.
Making your RPFs clear and making what you are proposing to the client clear2 will help you and the client both understand what you are proposing. The following are 9 great tips to keep in mind when writing your company's RFPs:
- Explain Who Your Company Is/What You Do/Etc.: Describe yourself and your company. What do you stand for? What does your company do? Introducing yourselves to the company you will be working with will help them understand and know who you are, considering they may have never heard of your company before. Allowing them to understand some basic information about your company will help them understand how working together could benefit their company and yours.
- Visualize Your Target Audience & Write Accordingly: Visualize who will be reading your RFP and write in an appropriate voice accordingly. The more you speak the "language" of the people who are reading your proposal, the more likely they are to be interested by what you have to offer. The more likely it is that they will be interested in working with your company and in taking you up on the proposal you sent.
- Understand the RFP Layouts: Different types of RFPs will have different formats. Understand the different layouts, formats, and ways to write up your RFPs and be sure to follow that blueprint accordingly. This will help the people reading your proposal find the information they need promptly so they don't have to dig for the basic information they need, but they will be able to find it easily.
- Be Sure To Include All Information Necessary: RFPs will have a list of information that you will be required to provide before the person you are submitting the request to can consider your proposal. Be sure to include all of that information requested if you want the proposal to be considered as seriously as possible. Otherwise, the company may have to contact you back for information, in which many cases they may not bother contacting you as it's an inconvenience to them, then you may ruin what otherwise would be an accepted business proposal.
- Provide Details & A Timeline: Provide a timeline and some details on the proposal you are sending. You might be able to negotiate some details of the project and the proposal later, but laying out the basics that you are thinking about the proposal working will help the other company have some sort of idea about what to expect when they enter an agreement with your business.
- Be Cautious When Using Third-Party Sites: Many larger companies consider using 3rd party sites to help write their requests for proposals. If you are going to follow this practice, be sure to check the proposals that are written to make sure that they are following the protocols set for them. While 3rd party companies can be a great way to save your own company time and money when it comes to writing out RFPs you need to make sure they are writing the requests appropriately, but you should check the work when they are finished. However, having said that you should use 3rd party companies cautiously, also be sure to keep them in mind as they can help take a massive workload off of your own workers if other issues that are pressing need taken care of as well.
- When Using 3rd Company Sites Be Sure They Prepare RFPs For Fast Turnaround: When you have an RFP that is going to have to go to a 3rd party company to prepare, be sure that the company can provide you a fast turn-around on the deadlines. There will be many times that your business prepares an RFP at the last minute or on a tight deadline, so having a company that can produce quality RFPs on a deadline is critical to your company getting your requests out on time to be considered for lucrative business deals.
- Never Quote Your Lowest Prices: Always begin with rates that are your company's "standard" rates when creating a business deal. This always leaves room for negotiation and provides you with more "playable cards in your hand" (ability to negotiate the price down further) with the company so that the deal has a better chance of working out for both parties. Negotiating can make it more likely that a deal works out and that both companies can benefit from making a deal with the other company.
- Provide A Central Point Of Contact: Appoint someone who is in charge of your RFPs. One central point of contact for your proposals helps customers know who to reach out to and who to ask questions to, send messages to, or who they contact if they accept your business's proposal. This central point of contact provides them a surefire way to get ahold of someone and makes it so that it's not a guessing game as to who they contact for further information or to proceed with the RFP.
These are just some of the tips to keep in mind when you are designing an RFP for your company. Including all the information that is required according to the outline or the call for proposals as this eliminates all of the guesswork and it also avoids the person at the other company having to call you to get more information because it wasn't included in the original documents you sent. Also be sure to follow the appropriate format for the specific request you are sending.
Moreover, if using 3rd party companies, be sure to check their work when they are done before you send it to the company you want to propose to. This helps make sure the information is all in working order and that there are no grammatical errors or typos in the equation, which can make your business look less reputable.
Remember, often times you will be working on tight deadlines or want to submit a proposal to a "call for proposals" you see from another company, but may not have a lot of time to do it. So be prepared to whip up your RFP and be sure to do a quality check to make sure everything is in order before you send it. Remember, you only have one chance to make that first impression on the other companies you want to work with!
For more information on writing a quality RFP and ensuring that it makes the impression you intend for it to make on companies you want to propose to, please feel free to contact us