RFP Tips

Tips for Responding to RFPs


Review the full document

  • From the intro of the RFP through the market basket, note clues of what they really want.
  • Highlight points and make margin notes.  First thoughts and reactions help you craft answers.
  • Note all deadlines.
  • Evaluate if this is an opportunity where you want to invest time, resources, and expense.


Know the client and the opportunity         

  • Research the client: mission, services, community involvement, audiences, etc.  Pull this information you can pull into your answers to create a connection
  • What can you find out about your competitors?  Incumbents?
  • Is there a procurement company involved?  Understand the value they have promised the client.


Don’t settle for yes or no answers

  • When space allows, expand on all answers…briefly.
  • RFPs may not ask the question you’d like to answer.  Find where to fit in good points.
  • Don’t bluff; be specific to the question asked


Create a positive spin

  • Be aware that anything you do not offer may disqualify you.
  • Don’t provide the requested service? Don’t say “no”; explain and suggest an alternate solution.


Show and tell

  • Make it easy on the reader.  Use bullet points for complicated procedures.  Also pictures, photos, diagrams, process flows to illustrate your answers and break up all the words
  • Support your pictures with captions and explanations when necessary.


Stand out

  • The evaluating team may read up to 50 responses.  Find ways to stand out.
  • Make your responses clear, concise, and correct.   Be personal if possible.
  • Start your response with the most important points and then finish with the ancillary details.  Readers start to skim, and you want what’s critical up front.
  • Deliver a professional document.  Proof it!  Have fresh eyes read it for comprehension/accuracy.
  • Include an executive summary


Market basket/pricing exercise

  • Understand the spreadsheet terms, processes, formulas, and pricing model.
  • Clarify your pricing: write out any assumptions you make in figuring your costs.  Some people look for mark-up, and others want a margin.
  • Show the formulas you use.  Lead them through it!


Contract negotiation

  • Must honor all that you promised in RFP.
  • Be clear about responsibilities, service levels, and inventory.
  • Have a professional review it.


-Courtesy of Tango