RFP Help: Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts for Requests for Proposals

08645531 woman writing proposal.JPGSo let’s say you met a corporate representative at a trade show, and you impressed them with your approach. You knew what that corporation was about and you explained how your services would be a perfect fit to help them grow. You followed up with a presentation that was right on point and your firm is certified as diverse.

You have not heard from the company for a year but you were patient. You followed up every quarter as agreed upon. They reach out and you are told you will be receiving a Request for Proposal (RFP). All the months of work and follow-up seem to have paid off. Now the big question: Will you win the business? Here is some RFP help – tips to help you have continued success.

  1. Read the RFP immediately. Make sure you understand the size and scope of the project and what you need to do to prepare.
  2. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if something is not clear. Most RFPs will also provide a vehicle for submitting questions.
  3. Make sure to follow the protocol for submitting questions outlined in the RFP. Deviating from that process could eliminate you from the bid.
  4. As you review the bid, consider if you need to partner with another supplier to meet all requirements. If you know you don’t have the capacity to handle the RFP’s requirements, don’t over commit or overstate your abilities.
  5. If you determine you cannot compete, let the corporation know right away. Nothing hurts your reputation more than dropping out of a bid on the due date. If you let your contact know early on you were not the right fit this time, they will continue to look for opportunities for you. A last minute decline suggests you did not take the opportunity seriously.
  6. If you have no experience with RFP responses you many want to consider hiring a professional or reaching out to your certifying agency to help you through the process.
  7. Answer every question thoroughly. I heard a presenter once tell a group that corporations never read past the first page of a RFP. It was the worst advice I ever heard – and totally untrue.
  8. Neatness counts. Typos and misspelling tell the corporation your work is sloppy. The RFP is your chance to put your best foot forward. A final proofreading by a new set of eyes is a good idea.
  9. Packaging counts. No matter the size of the RFP make sure your response is professional in appearance.
  10. Be on time. If you can’t respond to an RFP in a timely manner, you are not going to be able to respond to the demands of a corporation. Calling the day the response is due and asking for an extension is bad business.

If you win, congratulations! Make sure you know exactly what the corporation expects of you and how your performance will be measured. Once you are on solid footing, be on the look out for other ways you can help your client grow their business. Remember that the suppliers who lost the bid are thinking about how they can win the bid next time around.

If you lose, ask where you fell short and when you can come back to compete again.

Good luck with your bid.