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An RFP (Request for Proposal) is issued as part of the procurement process to allow multiple suppliers to competitively bid on providing a product or service. If you are responding to RFPs as a business channel, use these best practices to win more contracts more often.
Once an RFP is issued, the response is typically due within a 2-3 week timeline. That deadline can spin the RFP response team into high gear and sometimes panic. Who will do what? How will we get it done in such a short time? Responding to an RFP well requires a team effort and strong management of that team. Both are critical to keeping people motivated and effective with their time, their contribution, and their energy. Great project management skills require the team leader to take the following steps:
The question period promotes transparency of process and information access to all respondents. It allows respondents to gain further clarification on any of the information contained in the RFP that may contribute to their effectiveness in offering a detailed bid response.
There are two types of questions worth submitting as the respondent.
Every point counts so fight for every last one. Make it easy for those reviewing the response to find what they are looking for. Communicate your message clearly using pictures, graphs, and bullets where possible. Structure your response exactly as the RFP was structured. This is their preferred method of receiving the information and allows them to assign you points for including all of the information.
Those assigned to read the countless RFP submissions will at some point become bleary-eyed so submit your response knowing that standing out from the pile will work to your favour. Consider what may be visually appealing to the reader. Use photographs, text boxes, flow charts and graphs to represent the information.
Reading so many responses to the same RFP doesn’t just blur the eyes – it blurs the mind. How do you keep the reader interested?
The more authentic and gripping your response, the more likely you are to hold their attention.
Price is always a consideration when reviewing an RFP response, however, price is industry specific and its relative importance varies. This means your company’s estimating process must be efficient and effective to ensure you can maintain a decent profit. If you are going to compete at this level, you must have an accurate understanding of your cost structure. Without this knowledge, you could end up winning work that will lose you money. Sharpen your pencil – the margin for error here is razor thin.
Once you win it, never lose it. If you have the customer, keep them happy. Unfortunately, for the suppliers, RFPs are the status quo for some industries. If it has to go to RFP for transparency sake, help to write the RFP and provide something unique so your solution is specified or “spec’ed in”. Make sure that your value proposition is sound with that particular client before the RFP opens so you know the exact criteria they will value in the response. One of the best ways to gather this information is with a routine Account Review.
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