If you responded to 100 RFPs this year, you might be in a situation where the number of wins can be counted on one hand. Since the win rate for RFPs tends to be on the low side, it’s up to RFP responders to do everything in their power to change that statistic. That starts with the quality of your RFP responses.
“Too many opportunities are lost because of ambiguous and overly complex language, long and dense sentences, and vague, lifeless prose. Clear writing, in contrast, makes its points simply, demonstrating a bidder’s competence and quality.” – APMP Body of Knowledge
We all repurpose and customize historic RFP responses. Succeeding in the request for proposal process means taking a long look at the content sitting in your answer library to see how you can make these foundations stronger. Much of that strength will come from the simplicity of your messaging.
Ready to say the right thing and land your next big deal? Here are several simplified RFP response examples that will help you nail it.
Remember the goal of each RFP response
Before we get into the examples, let’s slow down and remember why we’re responding to RFPs in the first place. The goal of each RFP response is to win new business. If you want to win, you need to put your best foot forward anytime you are communicating with a prospect.
That means customizing each RFP response, versus throwing in boilerplates every time. That means performing a thorough review cycle, versus shipping a deliverable that isn’t client-ready. Time is always a factor, which is why using technology like RFP software is advantageous. An answer library helps you select top content in a matter of seconds. Navigating a maze of spreadsheets and emails for previous responses can take hours.
A full RFP process may take up to three months. That is a lot of time for both organizations to invest in the process. Since you are making the effort anyway, you might as well make it count.
Have an RFP response process in place that defines roles and responsibilities—from proposal writers to proposal managers, from subject matter experts who contribute to executives who give approval. And, consider bringing in RFP software to support that process.
Let’s keep your eyes on the prize and dig into some of the messaging principles and RFP response examples that will drive success for your organization.
RFP response example: Focus on humans
We’re all people here. Focus on the human subject of your proposal, whether you are talking about your team or the team you want to work with. Use actionable verbiage to show results succinctly, like so…
Don’t write it this way: Software features were the result of requests from end-users.
Instead, write it this way: Our developers deliver features your team needs, such as x, y, and z.
In the first poorly written example, you have a few different things going on. First, it shows as if the software development team just did what the ask was, without going above and beyond. Rather than using action words, the writing is passive.
Focusing on the human subject showcases action for the end-user. Here are a few more similar examples:
Don’t write it this way: Each team member has the experience to meet your every need.
Instead, write it this way: Our highly-experienced team delivers results. (Include real client example.)
Don’t write it this way: Manufacturing decisions were made based on requested specifications.
Instead, write it this way: Our manufacturing team creates quality and efficient products that help you achieve x, y, and z.
Don’t write it this way: The expense management software has helped each customer reduce fraud.
Instead, write it this way: This is how our expense management software combats your fraud risks. (Include results and/or testimonial.)
“Every reader, even a technical expert, appreciates clarity. Use the same style of English you use in conversation to make your proposals more open and accessible to a wide range of audiences.” – APMP Body of Knowledge
RFP response example: Be succinct and real
Every single reader of an RFP response enjoys succinctness and clarity. They also want to get to know you and understand what your real voice is. We often spend too much time trying to sound fancy in an RFP response, trying too hard to impress.
Get to the point and show the prospect what you sound like as a human. If you win the proposal, that is the true beginning of your relationship.
“Your goal is to make readers spend less time untangling your meaning and more time reviewing your solution.” – APMP Body of Knowledge
Here are some winning RFP response examples to help with succinct, real voice usage.
Don’t write it this way: The engineering team is top-class and has expertly designed systems to meet specifications.
Instead, write it this way: Our top-class engineering team designs systems to meet your needs.
Don’t write it this way: The software development process we follow meets milestones timely and delivers on each requested business requirement.
Instead, write it this way: Our software developers deliver value on time.
Don’t write it this way: We approach each project in a systematic way. We follow three phases where we gather requests, develop, and then deliver. We implement each project and validate that it has met the needs of the customer.
Instead, write it this way: Our project management team is agile. We build, test, and deploy to deliver value.
In each of the examples above, you see situations where there are too many words. You also see cases where the real voice of you begins to shine through. Focus on how you talk and seek clarity in the messaging you deliver. Remember, every word counts.
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RFP response example: Cut unnecessary words
You want to speak with action in your RFP responses and cut out words that weaken the statement. Avoiding the passive tense is critical to the win. Here are some examples of cutting out the passive and reducing the word count.
Don’t write it this way: We have been the best software developer for the past three years.
Instead, write it this way: We are an award-winning software developer.
Don’t write it this way: It is believed our engineering solution is the best.
Instead, write it this way: Over 200 users are happy with our engineering solution. (Provide short testimonial.)
Don’t write it this way: The last real estate project we finished was completed on-time.
Instead, write it this way: We finish each real estate project within 3 weeks.
“Applying principles of clear writing will make your proposal easy to see, follow, and understand, making it easier for your readers to say yes.” – APMP Body of Knowledge
Write every single RFP response with the intent of winning, but also write the same way you would talk to someone. Focus on everyday language, as if your customer was sitting across from you and you were having a conversation.
Leave plenty of time to review each RFP response to make sure you’re nailing that message. If you are continually rushing and skipping a thorough review, RFP software is here to help you and your team be more efficient with your entire process.
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