Four Tips For Winning RFPs

Want to stand out from competitors and boost your odds of winning lucrative RFPs? Try these expert strategies.

1. Go Beyond Yes & No - Danon Middleton, a VP at Top 40 firm Summit Group (asi/339116), believes answering questions beyond the minimum requirements will benefit both you and the potential client. “If the question is written in a way that could be answered with just a yes or a no, don’t just say yes or no,” she says. “There may be some situations where all you can do is say yes or no – but if you’re responding via a Word document, you want to just provide a couple of sentences.”

2. Use The Client’s Language - If you want to win an RFP, you need to show clients you can relate to them. Using the right terms can only help. “Speak their language by using the language specified in the RFP,” says Mike Michalowicz, founder of Profit First Professionals. “An RFP, particularly a technical one, will have unique and specific language.” For example, you may typically use the term “rotating coupler,” but your client may prefer the term “modulating coupler.” So, in your response, “make sure that you refer to it as a modulating coupler, and then specify the details,” Michalowicz says. “If you exclude their language, they won’t realize you are offering what they need.”

3. Make Your Response Pop - Michalowicz thinks distributors have to find a way to make their RFP responses pop off the page. Appearing ordinary or average is a losing formula. “An RFP doesn’t need to be a dry, mechanical document. Make it engaging. Use graphics and images. Make people want to read it,” he says. If you’re proposing services, for example, Michalowicz suggests including pictures of the team that will be providing them. You should also include hi-res photos of the promotional products you’re sourcing. “Also, produce graphics around things such as performance parameters, improvements, and rollout projections,” Michalowicz says. Ken Thoreson, president of Acumen Management Group, believes adding stylish touches through cover materials, a colorful first page, and even a screen shot of the client’s website, will help your RFP response stand out, as well.

4. Reference Previous Successes - Kelly Stone, owner of The Idea Box powered by Proforma (asi/300094), says referencing “champions” within your response – especially those connected with the prospective client – will help boost your chances of winning the order. “You can speak to successes that you’ve had within the company, and when you’ve got somebody to attach that to, it just quantifies your statement,” she says. “You want to find as many coaches and champions within the account as possible. They know and trust you. You really want to tap into as many of those people as you can.”