When prospecting for new clients, you’ve likely encountered a Request for Proposal, or RFP. This document is a questionnaire or guide for a project, produced with the intention of receiving responses from potential vendors. RFPs make it simple for companies to compare potential vendors for a wide variety of services, as every applicant is responding to the same prompt.
The workload required to satisfy the requests within most RFPs is certainly not one-size-fits-all. Many proposals are for all encompassing projects typically fit for agencies and small marketing firms.
There’s no denying creating proposals can be a tedious process at times, as you may put energy into crafting a proposal and not end up getting a client out of it. However, given the size and scale of most RFPs, landing just one can drastically increase your monthly income and improve the trajectory of your business.
Therefore, understanding how to respond and craft the most effective proposal is an invaluable skill to have. This is truly an instance in which practice makes perfect, so we’ve created our guide to responding to RFPs, simplify the process and help you secure big-ticket projects.
Before you start your proposal, read through the entire RFP carefully and outline the deliverables needed to meet its goals. If you are executing this proposal with a team, ensure that all aspects of the request are doable for all participants – if you know that the workload isn’t feasible, don’t waste time crafting a response!
Including a Table of Contents at the beginning of your proposal is not only an easy way to stay organized, but also makes navigating your proposal simple for the reader. A potential client likely has many proposals to review based on their RFP, so making the review process easier for them is one simple way to immediately stand out as a professional.
Similarly to a job application, the cover letter for a proposal is your chance to highlight your skills and give an overview of what you can provide the client. This also gives you the chance to connect with the client on a more personal level and express your passion for the project itself.
The Executive Summary is the client’s first look at your process; it should cover what they want and how you developed your plan to help them achieve their goals. Include any research methods or specific steps that you utilized to reach the conclusion outlined in your proposal to demonstrate your commitment to the task at hand.
This section of your proposal is crucial because it needs to draw the reader in and keep them engaged so that they'll read the rest of the document. It doesn’t need to be extensive, but it should provide enough context to fully summarize what you've already done and will do for the client.
It is important to understand that you won’t actually be executing any aspect of the project here. What you will be doing is creating a detailed outline of what gets done, who does it, and when it will be completed. This portion offers the client insight into your workflow, allowing them to determine if you will be the right fit for them. This space also lets your team detail any creative ideas so the client can ensure that your visions are aligned.
Here, you can add an itemized list of deliverables and pricing. Sometimes, a partnership is not feasible simply due to financial restraints, so it is wise to be upfront about your expectations for compensation. This will likely be factored into the client’s decision.
At the end of your proposal, you may include a section that details your background. Be sure to file this section at the end of your proposal, as a potential client likely won’t be invested in your ethos until after you’ve shown them the kind of work that you can produce for them. This section may include a personal anecdote, testimonials from past or current clients, or examples of past work. Anything that will help you stand out from the masses and speaks to your quality of work may be worth mentioning in this section.
Including a prepared agreement at the end of your proposal is simply efficient. If the client does make it all the way to the end of your document, it’s reasonable to assume that they are seriously considering working with you. Having a contract already drawn up allows them to immediately take action on your partnership. If an agreement needs to be drawn up after the fact, it will only prolong the onboarding process and inhibit you from starting to work on the project.
Responding to an RFP is not a simple task. It requires careful attention to ensure that you are always putting your best foot forward for clients, but having a clear understanding of what you need to include makes the process far more efficient. Following these steps could be the secret to unlocking a project that would drastically increase your income.