What is a Request for Proposal?
A request for proposal (RFP) is a document sent out by a company that asks vendors to send in proposals and bid for the opportunity to complete a specific project. An RFP will outline, in detail, what the project scope is, budget range, and the timeline it must be completed in.
Once bids are submitted, the company then chooses which vendor they will work with based on the details provided.
Why are Requests for Proposals Important?
RFPs are important for both companies that send them out, and for companies that submit proposals.
If you’re sending one, getting assistance from an external company will help tackle problems, provide expertise on a topic your company isn’t equipped to deal with, and help foster new professional relationships. Overall, they help your company complete more diverse tasks in an efficient manner.
For companies that submit proposals to RFPs, it offers a new way of obtaining clients and making new business connections. If someone reaches out to you with an RFP, they believe you have the tools and resources to help. This is great for future referrals and shows that your company (and team) is well known and respected within the industry.
Tips for Responding to a Request for Proposal
It can be tempting to want to respond to every RFP you receive, but that’s unrealistic. Follow these tips for responding to RFPs to help determine how to use your time and resources wisely.
- Do your research. If you receive an RFP, look up the company and confirm they’re real and that their ask is legitimate. You don’t want to get caught responding to a phishing scheme.
- Make sure the RFP aligns with your company. Before you start writing a proposal, make sure your company aligns with the business that reached out to you. Will a relationship make sense? Or are you misaligned in values? It’s not worth putting a brand or professional reputation on the line.
- Calculate the ROI. Writing a response for an RFP takes time and resources and shouldn’t be done unless you know you have a high chance of winning the bid. Take some time to calculate the return on investment for submitting a proposal and determine if it’s worth it.
- Submit your proposal early. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your proposal. By then, the company may have already seen a competitor’s option and loved it. Make sure you’re the one who will make a lasting, meaningful first impression.
- Ask questions and get clarification. It’s important to know what the company’s specific goals are, who the beneficiaries are, and how exactly your product will help their project. Once you get these details you can outline exactly why your product is the right fit for them.
- Know exactly what they want. An RFP will likely have multiple project needs. Some can be negotiated, but others will be necessary. Find out what the company is unwilling to change and ensure you can meet these needs.