4 Ways to Improve Your RFP Response Rate
There are a million little things that can get in the way of improving your RFP response win rate. Any one of them can torpedo your chances of an important deal. Over time, you can develop a formula that improves your strike rate and minimizes lost opportunities.
Here are four things you can do to ensure your proposals win more.
1. Be Persuasive, Not Just Informative
If your sales team has done a good job, you should already have some information about your prospective customer. It is time to take this deeper than high-level facts and figures.
To consistently win with your proposals, you need to go beyond knowing what your customer does and how they do it, and really learn what they want and what you alone can provide. What is important to them in a supplier or vendor? Who have they bought from before, and what are they currently using? How can you solve their most pressing pain points?
Next, you need to carefully analyze the RFP request. It might seem like a no brainer. But there are still companies who are submitting RFP responses focused on what they want to sell, rather than what their customer wants to buy.
Done right, a combination of careful bid analysis and customer research will give you a clear picture of what your prospective client wants to from a potential partner. Telling them how you deliver on each point is the secret to RFP success.
2. Minimize Boilerplate Content
Once you know what you’re selling, who you’re selling it to, and what matters to them, it is time to craft a winning proposal. Each RFP response should be written for one project, to ensure that the style, tone, and substance are cohesive. (That said, there are many elements you can automate and templatize, which will allow you to add personal touches without starting from scratch.)
Qvdian’s RFP response & proposal automation software helps teams save time and win more.
A great RFP response is like a conversation. It addresses all your customer’s questions, allays their fears, and highlights your skills—without making it all about you.
Nailing the writing style means striking a balance between being technically accurate and easy to understand. This can be tricky, because there is always a tendency to slip into industry jargon, but it is important to write with your reader in mind.
Keep the language simple, and organize ideas into paragraphs, sections, and chapters, with an easy to follow table of contents. Many times, whoever reads your proposal will skim through the content first, before they dive into anything in-depth. If your proposal is hard to read or looks like a textbook, the second read-through might never happen. First impressions count here too, and making a good one will improve your RFP response rate.
3. Be Consistent
Whether we like it or not, presentation matters.
A great proposal is the perfect balance of form and function. It will present a plan to meet and exceed the customer’s current needs, and do so within a professional design that backs up your larger argument.
You might think of things like design, branding, and custom writing and editing as window dressings. But they can make or break an RFP response. In fact, if your prospective customer receives two proposals that are substantively the same, but one looks like it was professionally published, and the other looks like it was thrown together in a hurry, they’ll almost certainly be swayed by their overall impression. When you take the time to consider presentation, you’re telling a prospect that their business is worth the extra effort; that you’ll take the time to make them successful.
If you want to improve your RFP response rate, your proposal should speak for your company and tell your story. They should reflect your brand, and who you are. All these little things will ensure that they do just that.
4. Check for Errors
Crafting a custom RFP response that presents your company, products, and services in the best possible light, and speaks to your customer is a time-consuming process. Don’t derail your efforts by failing to check for errors.
Make sure that you check spelling and grammar and proofread everything carefully. You would be surprised how many people see simple errors as a serious black mark. While it might not knock you out of the running, it could set you back in the process.
Make a final error check a non-negotiable part of your workflow, and don’t let anything go out until that step has been crossed off the list.
It may seem counterproductive to spend so much time and take so much effort on every RFP response, but even a poorly presented proposal takes time. If you don’t have time to, well, take the time, you may be taking on too many proposals to begin with.
A little more time, attention to detail, effort, and preparation can make all the difference. And that makes it all worthwhile.