With the tightening economy and more competition, more and more companies are relying on the RFP (request for proposal) process to find the best vendors/products. This process often involves a team effort with members of product development, finance, and marketing (to name a few of the most common groups) involved in drafting a response. We’ve worked with several companies recently helping them respond to RFPs and wanted to share our findings on the matter.
RFP responses require great attention to detail, consideration of the end user, and excellent communication. Below are some best practices to employ with your RFP responses from your technical writing friends at Shoap.
Many companies offer generic RFP responses rather than personalizing each response to the specific RFP. A company may provide a generic RFP, but the response should still be personalized. Generic responses run the risk of omitting some of the requirements listed in the RFP, possibly leading to disqualification of the response. Similarly, the focus should be on the requesting company. Constantly ask yourself, “Why would they choose us?” and use the company name in the response each time you mention your own company. While you should wait to get into the nitty-gritty of your solution, focus on what the company wants and answer its questions.
The RFP response has to be a single, cohesive document, as if it were written by a single person. However, we most commonly see that several people will each take a section for their expertise, using their own designs and writing styles. This approach makes for a very back-heavy project and/or an unimpressive finished product. Tools such as AuthorIT and Framemaker can mitigate this problem. The appropriate tool depends on the company’s environment and approach to proposals.
For RFP responses, nothing could be truer than the saying, “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” Are there any grammatical errors in your response? Is the response boring? Also, recognize how the company will read and evaluate the response. There will likely be many proposals to review, so a clear, concise response will make a better impression. The executive summary may be detached from the rest of the document, so make sure it can stand alone and grabs their attention.
At Shoap our attention to detail serves us well when helping companies create RFP responses. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.