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How to Make Your RFP Response Stand Out

3 ways to make your RFP response stand out (and win more business) — Board  Studios

Alt Title: How to Leave a Better Impression With Your RFP Response

Submitting a response to an RFP can be nerve wracking, especially if you’re competing with major players to win a major deal. If you want a chance at being the winning bid, you need to grab your reviewer’s attention immediately – and convince them that you’re the company worth choosing for this work.

How do you do it? How can you make your RFP response stand out in a stack of responses from equally qualified companies? And how can you secure the deal?

Use Professional Binding

First, make sure you spend a little extra money on professional binding. Most of your competitors are going to take the easy way out or the cheap way out, using staples or other straightforward and inexpensive materials to bind their pages together. You can instantly stand out by using spiral bound book printing or putting all your materials together in three-ring binders. A transparent plastic cover page can also make your document seem more professional.

Nail the Cover Page

What’s the first thing your reviewer is going to see? It’s the cover page, so you have to make sure it stands out. Writing your company name, including your company logo, in writing the term “RFP response” isn’t going to be enough to stand out from the competition. Instead, you’ll be setting yourself up for instant forgettability. Your cover shouldn’t be over the top or obnoxious, but you should be willing to bend a few rules to make sure your RFP response looks unique.

Write the Executive Summary Last

Some RFP writers simply go in order, writing out the response section by section. When they do this, they usually write the executive summary first. But this is a mistake; it’s almost always better to write the executive summary last. That will give you a chance to review all the information you’re submitting, isolate the most important points of your response, identify your unique differentiators, and bring them to the forefront when assembling your executive summary. Lots of RFPs are won or lost because of the executive summary, so take it seriously.

Address All the Requirements

This should go without saying, but make sure you address all the requirements of the RFP. Most companies issuing RFPs have strict requirements for what must be included, including a section by section breakdown and important points to cover. If you miss any of these requirements, it’s a sign that you didn’t read the document clearly or that you aren’t paying close attention to detail. In either case, you’ll be making a negative impression.

Don’t Rely on a Template

If your company is submitting RFP responses regularly, you likely have a template assembled to guide you in the RFP response creation process. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can help you expedite the process and give you a familiar standard by which you can create new materials. But if you’re overly reliant on this template, your RFP response is going to become unoriginal, stale, and generic. It’s much better to customize your response for the company requesting it.

Be Human

Many RFP responses end up sounding robotic and boring because the writers falsely believe that they need to maintain a stuffy, professional appearance. Most responders are doing this. So while it’s important to be professional and polished, you’re going to have much better chances of standing out if you showcase your personality and crack a few jokes. It’s also helpful to include some headshots of your team; especially if you expect to have a close working relationship with the company.

Showcase the Fringe Benefits

It’s true that many RFP issuers are primarily concerned with price. They are looking for a company that can serve their needs as inexpensively as possible. Accordingly, you should give them your most competitive pricing. But if you want to stand out and break a tie with another competitor, show off the fringe benefits of working with you. What can your company offer in the working experience that other companies can’t match?

Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Most of your competitors are going to be almost exclusively focused on showing off their strengths. You should show off your strengths too, but you should also be willing to acknowledge your weaknesses. Doing so is a show of sincerity and confidence, and it’s going to make your reviewer take your company more seriously as a result.

Following these strategies and paying attention to detail can leave you with a much more impressive RFP response. That doesn’t guarantee you’re going to beat the competition, especially if one of your competitors severely undercuts you on pricing, but you will have much better odds of standing out and making a good impression.