Over the last few months, we’ve been sharing tips on how to create your best RFP response.
Putting a proposal together is an essential step to winning work. It is a time-consuming and all-encompassing activity. You’re working against the clock, it’s competitive and can be highly technical. Because of these competing factors, bids are often done poorly. On the plus side, that means that the opportunity to stand out is huge.
You can’t win a bid by your proposal alone, but you can lose one. So, it’s worth doing right! We’ve compiled our best bite-sized bits of bid-wisdom below, to help you elevate your proposal writing game.
How solid is your response process?
Usually, you respond to an RFP because you believe you’re in for a chance of winning it. If you want to win, you’ll need to put your best foot forward. In deadline-driven environments, you want to make sure you’ve got your processes down pat.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” – James Clear
Your process clarifies roles, responsibilities, and timelines to ensure you meet deadlines. When assessing your process, you may want to look at:
What’s your win rate and which metrics are you measuring? Assess the process you use to quality or disqualify RFPs.
Assess your content
Are you organising and updating your bid library? Make sure it’s up to date so you’re not reinventing the wheel.
Roles and responsibilities
Does your project plan emphasize roles and expectations? Someone has to be responsible for driving the team to meet deadlines.
Get to know resources
Who are you drawing knowledge from? Once identified, establish preferred communication channels to streamline your workflow.
6 steps to write an RFP response
Once your process is in place, you’re ready to make a plan! Every business has different needs, but you may want to consider these steps when responding to the next opportunity.
- Do your research
Invest in client and stakeholder discovery to make sure that you understand your client and their needs.
- Make a plan (and set deadlines!)
Make sure everyone in your team knows the ‘who, how and when’ of your response plan.
- Tailor existing content
Ensure your content aligns with the RFP and is specific to your client.
- Create new content to fill any information gaps
Make sure that every question in the RFP has been answered clearly and in detail.
- Edit using the 4 C’s
Check that your response is compliant, consistent, clear, and compelling.
- Update your bid library
Save any new or revised content for use in future bids.
Crafting client-centric proposals
In technical writing, the focus is on clearly and accurately articulating the subject. In contrast, proposal writing requires focusing on the client. Ensure you know what’s required so that your response is effective. Follow these 4 steps to create more client-centric proposals.
- Identify the customer’s needs. What is the question?
- What is it really asking? Determine the outcomes that really matter.
- Recommend solutions to reach those outcomes.
- Provide evidence that you can do what you say.
A win theme is your guiding strategy. It unites your USP (unique selling point) with your client’s biggest concerns, and in turn proves your organisation is the one for the job.
A win theme makes your proposal more engaging and turns it into something your clients want to read.
It’s all about the angle
Every organisation communicates differently – for example, private developers vs. government. Your proposal should reflect this.
- Note how formal and technical their language is
- Mirror it
You should ensure that your response is understandable and meets the expected tone. People are more likely to respond well to others with a similar communication style. When writing a proposal, mirror your client’s terminology and tone.
Keep it concise
Writing concisely means using the fewest words possible to convey an idea. If your writing is difficult to follow, readers will lose interest. Improve readability in your proposal:
- Remove filler words
- Choose everyday words
- Avoid flowery language
- Limit sentences to one idea
- Use lists
Remember, simple is powerful!
Mind your jargon
Don’t assume reviewers have the same specialised technical understanding as you. Most of the time, they don’t! This is one of the biggest mistakes we see in bid writing. Too many points get lost on overly complex language, clear writing makes points simply and demonstrates competence.
- Consider the terminology you use
- Write in accessible language
Your proposal should not alienate readers.
Edit with the 4 C’s
Edit your content using the 4 key criteria (the 4 C’s) of RFP response. If you can get a fresh set of eyes, even better! Even the most seasoned writers rely on an editor to check their writing. Get a colleague to highlight anything that is unclear – this will improve the quality of your final submission and increase your chances of success.
- All RFP questions are answered in full, and all requirements adhered to
- The response is within the required page limit
- It’s submitted on time and to the correct contact
- All numbers and statistics presented ‘add up’
- The language and writing style used throughout are consistent (the proposal sounds like the same person wrote every section)
- The use of jargon, terminology and acronyms is limited
- Responses are front-loaded to make sure answers to key questions can be easily identified
- Claims are backed with evidence
- Responses are specific and clearly describe the unique benefits that you can provide to the client
- Your capability and capacity to deliver is proven
Layout and design
Are your proposals using design to get attention and reinforce your brand? Crammed information makes your proposal hard to read, and a poorly thought-out layout will cause your perceived professionalism to drop. Make your proposal memorable with a strong layout and eye-catching design.
We help clients in the infrastructure, environmental management, energy, venue and event management, international development, engineering and construction industries (just to name a few) to win the work that’s important to them. Do you need help with your RFP response process? Get in touch.