Skip to content

How to Craft an RFP Response that Rises to the Top

Umbrella Stands out

A Request for Proposal (RFP) just landed on your desk, and you know you’ve got a golden opportunity on your hands. But, how do you craft an RFP response that will pop, sizzle, and stand out?

With a few tips and tricks, you can transform your RFP responses from “just another proposal” to an “offer they can’t refuse.” Here’s how.

What Makes a Good RFP Response?

When responding to an RFP, you want to communicate value to your potential customer and make the scope of your proposed project crystal clear. A good proposal should be:

  • Thorough and comprehensive. It should address all of the requirements in the RFP and provide additional information and detail as needed.
  • Well-organized and easy to follow. It should have a clear structure, with headings and subheadings to help the reader navigate.
  • Professional and persuasive. It should be written clearly and concisely and highlight the benefits of your company and your solution.
  • Tailored to the specific RFP. It should consider the particular requirements of the RFP and avoid generic or boilerplate language. Weave in strong visuals like infographics, diagrams, and before and after photos to demonstrate impact. Tailoring your approach to show you’re paying attention and understanding your potential customer’s needs is a top priority. 
  • Timely. You should submit your proposal on time (or early) to show you are a reliable and responsive partner.

Want to dig a bit deeper? Here are our top four tips for crafting a winning RFP response.

#1 – Leverage Adjustable Templates for Personalization

Creating adjustable templates for your RFP responses allows you to reduce the time needed to develop one while still allowing for personalization. Leveraging an adjustable template also ensures consistency in language and branding across different proposals.

Most RFPs ask for similar information: a cover letter, an executive summary, a narrative description of your proposed strategy, the deliverables you’ll provide, a budget, a project summary, and a section to learn more about your company and product offerings.

Craft a template with these sections and personalize it for all the RFPs that come your way. Strategies for personalization include:

  • Addressing Customer Pain Points: A personalized response begins with a keen understanding of the customer’s pain points. Directly acknowledging and proposing solutions to these challenges showcases empathy and positions you as a partner invested in resolving issues.
  • Highlighting Tailored Solutions: Tailoring solutions to customers’ unique needs demonstrates a company’s expertise and dedication to providing value. This approach showcases competency and establishes your company as a trusted advisor.
  • Demonstrating Comprehensive Project Scope Understanding: A deep comprehension of the project scope is vital. Accurate interpretation of requirements and suggestions that reflect an in-depth grasp of project intricacies solidifies your company’s reputation as a proactive and capable partner.

#2 – Incorporate Visuals that Demonstrate Impact

Research tells us that images last longer in our minds than words. The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is quite literally true. Visuals are a potent tool for conveying complex concepts and fostering deeper understanding because humans process imagery more efficiently than words.

Integrating strong visuals throughout your RFP response can elevate your proposal in a big way. You can include:

  • Infographics Showcasing Data and Statistics: Infographics transform raw data into visually appealing and digestible formats, allowing your potential customers to grasp critical insights at a glance.
  • Diagrams Illustrating Processes and Workflows: These visual representations provide a step-by-step visual guide, facilitating a clear understanding of intricate methodologies and operational strategies.
  • Before-and-After Images of Successful Outcomes: Demonstrating the transformative power of a proposed solution is best achieved through before-and-after images. These visuals provide a tangible depiction of a company’s offerings’ positive impact on the customer’s challenges, evoking a sense of anticipation and excitement.

Ensure any visual you include is clear, relevant, captioned, and sourced (if applicable). And if dreaming up design strategies isn’t your strong suit, outsource the task!

#3 – Stand Out and Evoke Emotion with a Clear Brand Voice

Brand voice encompasses the personality, style, and values of a company’s communication. In the context of RFP responses, it plays a pivotal role in conveying information and establishing a unique and memorable presence that resonates with future customers.

Just as a well-crafted melody lingers in one’s mind, a consistent and distinctive brand voice can leave an indelible mark, shaping perceptions and fostering engagement. Make sure your brand voice is consistent, authentic, and unique. Infuse a dash of personality, humor, or warmth to help your brand become more relatable to humanize your proposal.

Humans are naturally emotional creatures, and that doesn’t stop just because you’re developing a professional asset. Remember, humans will read your RFP response, so evoke their emotions! Here are a few things you can try:

  • Storytelling to Create a Connection: Narratives have an unparalleled ability to evoke emotions and establish a profound connection. Sharing compelling stories in your pitch that relate to your company’s journey, successes, or challenges can tap into the customer’s empathy and create a shared experience.
  • Using Persuasive Language and Power Words: The choice of words can shape the emotional landscape of an RFP response. Utilizing persuasive language, such as strong action verbs and power words, injects energy and conviction into the proposal, encouraging the customer to take action.
  • Incorporating Testimonials or Success Stories: Real-life testimonials or success stories from previous customers inject credibility and authenticity into your response. These narratives prove your company’s capabilities, assuaging doubts, and building trust.

Just as music conveys emotion through its melody and lyrics, a thoughtfully crafted brand voice resonates with customers, leaving an emotional imprint that fosters engagement, trust, and partnership.

#4 – Demonstrate Impact to All Stakeholders in Mind

There is often a web of stakeholders with varying interests, priorities, and concerns that can impact the success of your RFP response. Acknowledging and catering to these various personas not only enhances the relevance of a proposal but also demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies inherent in the decision-making process.

Let’s say you’re responding to an RFP put out by a local school, and the school’s leader will make the decision. That leader has to consider their students, parents, teachers, school boards, and more when making a decision. If your proposal showcases how your proposed solution or strategy will solve a problem for each persona, your submission will stand out. Why? Because you’re framing your messaging around what matters.

To show your understanding of a complex web of stakeholders, you can:

  • Identify Key Personas: A thorough exploration of the decision-making landscape is crucial. Pinpointing the key personas involved – from executive leaders to end-users – forms the foundation for persona-centric tailoring.
  • Tailor Messages and Solutions: Each persona has unique pain points, aspirations, and evaluation criteria. Tailoring messages and solutions to align with these individual perspectives fosters a sense of personalization and investment.
  • Communicate Strategically: Different personas may prioritize different aspects of a proposal. By strategically allocating attention to the aspects most pertinent to each persona, the response becomes a mosaic of relevance, catering to various priorities.

You can demonstrate a profound understanding of the intricate decision-making landscape by acknowledging the importance of addressing diverse stakeholder needs and meticulously tailoring responses to key personas.

#5 – Partner with Experts Who Can “Level Up” Your RFP Response

Let’s get real for a second. Responding to RFPs can take a lot of time and expertise that we don’t always have in-house. But that’s okay! You can partner with experts who can support:

  • Skillset Amplification: Crafting an RFP response that truly shines demands diverse skills, from template development to graphic design and from persuasive copywriting to persona research. Partnering with experts grants access to a spectrum of talents that might not be readily available within your organization.
  • Time Efficiency: Responding to RFPs demands precision and efficiency. By enlisting the assistance of experts, you can focus your internal resources on core operations while the outsourced team devotes their expertise to shaping a compelling and polished proposal.

Writing a Winning Proposal: The Power of Partnership

An agency like Clever Lucy can provide tailor-made materials and services, like comprehensive RFP templates, visual storytelling assets, emotive copywriting, brand voice development, and persona-centric research and strategy to help your proposals rise to the top.

Book a 15-minute call with us to learn how we can streamline your RFP processes and help you develop a winning proposal.