RFP Format Samples, Tips & Processes

Completing and submitting a Request for Proposal is a highly competitive, lengthy, and sometimes stressful business. But how many times have your RFPs actually resulted in a win?

1. How Do You Respond to an RFP Email?

2. What Are the Goals of an RFP Response?

3. 3 RFP Response Examples: RFP Responses Should Evoke Emotion

4. RFP Response Process Must Solve The Requestor’s Business Need/Goal: 3 RFP Response Examples

5. 2 RFP Response Examples: Be Ruthless in the Editing Stage 

6. Demonstrate Your Quantitative Value in a Detailed Proposal: 3 RFP Response Examples

7. 2 RFP Response Examples: Creating Proposals Should Leverage Technology

8. Proposal Managers + Improved Proposal Templates + RFP Software = Winning More Clients

We’re here to help you improve your chances of being noticed by sharing 13 effective RFP response examples and strategies to win over prospective clients. These tips will help you produce better results in less time, capturing the attention of your future clients, and leading to more project wins.

Response documents can be a time-intensive gamble, so we often go the route of repurposing past proposal content to help us get them done quicker. But without a captivating, robust and effective RFP response, this approach puts us in the same bucket as every other company we’re competing against. 

It means we don’t stand out, and so we stand less chance of winning. 

Poorly written proposals, containing vague language, offering generic suggestions, and lacking in imagination, result in low win rates. And they can be cumbersome, dense documents, which don’t make for easy reading either.

How Do You Respond to an RFP Email?

Creating proposal response documents involves significant amounts of time, money and effort, which can affect every part of your business. 

Many on your team may need to be involved, from the subject matter specialists and proposal writers, to the decision makers who review and approve prior to submission.

And there are risks to participating in the process, as there’s more than a 50% chance that you won’t win the work.

There are three steps that inform how you respond to an RFP:

1. Decide Whether or Not to Participate?

Before you dive in, is it actually the right project for your team and your business to be involved in? Consider these questions:

  • Is the project and client a good fit for your business? 
  • Do you have past experience of doing this type of project?
  • Are you familiar with the industry and is the potential client part of your target market?
  • Can you help the buyer achieve their goals?
  • Can you meet their proposal deadline and their larger project timeline?
  • Do you need clarification on any elements of the RFP before you decide?

2. Understand The Client’s Needs

Your proposal must prove you can deliver exactly what they want and need, so get clarification on any gray areas before you start creating your response. 

The RFP is a detailed document, but in short, it needs to cover these areas.

  • Specify what you’re hoping to accomplish for them, including key deliverables.
  • Define the step-by-step approach you will take to achieve their goals.
  • Provide the cost and a timeline, including milestones.

3. Gather Your Team

If you decide to respond, assemble the key personnel who need to be involved in creating the RFP.

  • Who takes ultimate responsibility for the proposal?
  • What procedures and processes need to be in place to help them compile the response?
  • Which departments does the team need to coordinate with?
  • Have you scheduled sufficient time for them to do what’s needed?

The structure of your response matters and leveraging existing templates and pre-prepared answers about your company and team, your policies, methodology or approach etc. helps you spend less time working on what to say, and more time tailoring your response for the perfect fit.

These days your opportunities to win an RFP don’t just hinge on price but experience, speed, quality, etc. A growing market means you are also competing against more suppliers.

So timely and relevant responses are a competitive advantage. And the primary way you speed up your proposal writing process is by using RFP technology

Communicating using emails and referencing attachments stored in various places is a clunky way of sourcing, which slows the process down. An AI-focused content management solution automates the entire process and everything is stored in a central place, which also helps to accelerate the timeline from ‘start’ to ‘submit’.

Throughout this article, we’ll be covering effective methods that help you create a winning formula for building effective response documents.

What Are the Goals of an RFP Response?

Survey paperwork sitting next to a laptop and cactus plant on a wooden table.

It’s easy to forget the main reasons you’re doing this when you get bogged down in the details of writing your proposal. There are two things to keep in mind as you prepare your response document.

The primary goal of this effort is to win new business

So you want to make the work you put in count by creating well-written, compelling proposals that answer a Request for Proposal effectively, show you off in your best light and increase your chances of being selected. 

Making use of proven response templates gives you access to a source library of suitable, well-designed and clearly worded content you can draw from. You can also store the best parts of previous successful submissions as sample responses, which you can adapt to future contexts. 

Using proposal management software ensures they are all in the same accessible place, simplifying your process.

The secondary goal is to offer an effective solution for a challenge your potential client is facing.

Helping them to see and appreciate your value by clearly communicating how you can support them best makes it worth their while going through this lengthy process too.

That’s where eSourcing software helps, as it streamlines communication and workflow processes. By eliminating manual tasks, you can collaborate with both the proposal client and your team more quickly and effectively, to keep you on target with these two goals.

See how DeepStream’s cloud-based software supports seamless communication and collaboration.

Let’s now look at 4 areas where you can improve your RFP templates, with suggestions and examples for each.

I. 3 RFP Response Examples: RFP Responses Should Evoke Emotion

Woman in yellow check jacket laughing with her male colleague seated in front of their laptops.

While we think decisions are based on facts and figures, in most situations, we actually make our initial choices based on emotions. Only then do we rationalize our selections with the technical details. 

So, the language you use is important. You need to appeal to your client’s emotional side through your writing. Remember, you are writing for people, just like you. So keep it relevant to the industry or sector they are in, but aim for a conversational rather than academic or technical tone. 

There are three areas of your response document where you can make your proposal wording more appealing.

1. Your Proposal Cover Message 

Whether this is a cover letter, email or template, first impressions count. Use this starting point to build trust, create a connection, and deepen the relationship with your potential client. 

Be friendly and relatable, but include some reference to how you’re qualified to best serve them.

2. 'About Us' Section

Group of coworkers seated on a sofa and yellow chairs facing each other.

Highlight your specific strengths and how they will benefit the client you’re pitching to. Share your story, expertise, accomplishments and what’s important to you. How does who you are, what you do, and your approach to your work help them? You want to be relatable.

Don’t say Do say
"The team has varied backgrounds. We work with leading companies to help them realize their full potential." "Our company has an interdisciplinary team of lifelong learners who hail from a wide range of industries, countries and cultures. It’s our goal to revolutionize RFx technology, and sustainability is at the heart of how we build our platforms. We are setting a new standard for sustainable transactions and transparent supply chain processes to benefit both buyers and suppliers."

(This example is based on our About page)

3. Testimonials

Share references from past clients and their success stories from working with you. Emotive language and quotes will attract your buyer’s attention.

For example, here are two great testimonials from our clients:

“Suppliers get up and running very quickly, proving that DeepStream is easy to use, very clear and not very complicated.”  - Riten A.
“An excellent solution from an agile team of bright minds. The intuitive user interface is the feature that distinguishes DeepStream from the market alternatives. Other elements that make them stand out are: their customer success team, frequent updates with new features, and a network of vendors." - Pan A.

II. RFP Response Process Must Solve The Requestor’s Business Need/Goal: 3 RFP Response Examples

Your potential customer has a problem. They’re looking for ways to fulfill their needs as simply, quickly and cost effectively as possible, and you can help them. 

You can leverage the entire response process to show how you can solve their problem. From the point at which you sign up to an RFP, to completing and submitting the documents needed, and negotiating on price and other criteria, once your RFP is accepted.

Understand the purpose of proposing a solution. Keep the response template creation process simple. And avoid smothering the person on the receiving end with complicated, overly technical language that makes a solution feel inaccessible. 

Write your submission clearly, helping them see a way to reach their goal which makes them want to take action. 

The following three examples show how you can help them see your solution as the one that meets their needs. So they feel comfortable taking the next step.

1. Benefits

In the Executive Summary section, be specific about what they have to gain from working with you or using your product, service, or infrastructure. 

Don’t say Do say
“We can help you save time and money that you can use elsewhere.” “We’ve proven that our clients can save up to 3 hours per day using our software.”

2. Goals

Consider what your client is ultimately hoping to achieve: 

  • What else are they looking for, above and beyond the “thing” that you will produce for them? 
  • Is it peace of mind, stability, or security, or something else? 

Think beyond the end product when writing about how you can help them achieve their goals in the Executive Summary part of your RFP.

Don’t say Do say
“We have the experience to meet your every need.” “Our highly skilled team designs and delivers this cloud infrastructure within 90 days, leaving plenty of time for testing before launch.”

3. Case Studies

Demonstrate your expertise, the quality of your delivery, and the outcomes of implementing your solutions with other clients. Sharing examples of your work exemplifies that you can solve this client’s problem. Highlight every benefit of your previous working relationships. 

Here’s a snippet from a case study detailing our client collaboration with Britishvolt.

“We’re proud of the close working relationship we’ve developed with Britishvolt as we support them building factories, and sourcing equipment and materials to bring the UK one step closer to reaching Net Zero emissions.” - Jack Macfarlane, DeepStream CEO

III. 2 RFP Response Examples: Be Ruthless in the Editing Stage 

Two men working on a document with pencils, in front of laptops sitting on a wooden table.

Be thorough in your review and edit process before you submit your final proposal response. Remember, clarity is key, which means less is often better.

To clearly communicate the value of your solution, remove all unnecessary words that may weaken the message you’re aiming to convey. Avoid passive tense, which defuses action. Keep your language and sentence structure simple. 

Here are two ways you can make your descriptions more accessible.

1. Specific RFP Q&As

Clients use specific, standardized questions to compare supplier responses. Even when detail is required, aim for concise answers to make for easy reading. Remember, be specific about how you can help them.

Don’t say Do say
“We can save you time by deploying this software for you.” “For client X, we’ve saved them 2,000 working hours annually. Imagine what we can do for you.” (Then provide a case study or proof of results to support that claim.)

2. Project Schedule

DeepStream platform features: Bulletins, Clarifications, Chat

This is where you summarize timelines, milestones, and key dates. While keeping it short and sweet, this is also an opportunity to make your phrasing positive and active to help the buyer feel forward motion.

Don’t say Do say
“The development process we follow meets all of your milestones, and we will deliver your specified requirements by the agreed upon dates.” “Our team of developers will deliver x, y, and z on [this date].”

IV. Demonstrate Your Quantitative Value in a Detailed Proposal: 3 RFP Response Examples

While designing an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing proposal is important to get the buyer’s attention, that’s just the first step. It’s the quality and depth of the information in your proposal that illustrates your value.

How can the technical, organizational and financial elements of your proposal outline showcase your desirability? By highlighting the efficiencies gained, dollars saved, or outputs increased, you will communicate your value, justify your price and ensure you win the work.

Here are three areas of the proposal where you can communicate your quantitative value more clearly.

1. Implementation Plans

DeepStream RFx team permission matrix

Share the onboarding and rollout plans in more detail in a way that sets your team up for success. Using a matrix format is an effective way to communicate this information clearly.

Set realistic timelines and expectations. Share the logistical information about where the project will take place and who will be involved. Highlight risks or potential issues that could cause delays.

Don’t say Do say
“Our last software module was completed on time and we managed to stay on budget.” “We complete every software module within 90 days and on budget.”

2. Contract Details

Outline of the project stages

Outline your management and communication plan for the project, reassuring them that your process for managing the project is focused and organized. This is another opportunity to build trust. Avoid passive sentences, keep things active.

Don’t say Do say
“For each project, we follow the same systematic approach. There are four phases where we research, develop, customize and test the product before delivery. We validate that quality assurance has been met before it is sent to our customers.” “Our management and development process is agile. We continuously configure and test what we build to ensure that your finished product meets your team’s needs and expectations.”

3. Pricing

Be open about how you structure the costing, so there is no confusion about what the buyer can expect to pay.

Don’t Do
Lump everything together under a single price with little explanation or justification for each. Justify the cost by clearly explaining what they get for each line item and how it contributes to their business ROI (efficiencies gained, dollars saved, leads/sales increased, etc.).

2 RFP Response Examples: Creating Proposals Should Leverage Technology

Proposal management software makes it easier for both parties to communicate and collaborate. It also simplifies the entire process, saving everyone time, money and effort.

For proposal writing, there are two obvious benefits where leveraging more advanced AI-powered technology stands you in good stead.

1. A Central Place for Tracking, Communicating & Storing Data

Proposal software tracks your data for past and pending submissions and consolidates your knowledge base, all in the same place, for easy reference, transparency and compliance

2. A Robust Template Library

Consider your ‘must haves’ when creating your response templates. How does the industry or service affect the content? For example, an RFP template for project management might differ from one for marketing services.

Building a cloud-based centralized store of high-quality proposal responses and templates is a must. This simplifies your search and helps you work quickly when time is of the essence. It also saves you time later, as you can reuse the best elements of your successful past proposals.

Proposal Managers + Improved Proposal Templates + RFP Software = Winning More Clients

It’s important to have a sound strategy for how you deal with creating your submissions, to yield optimum results for the investment required. 

To increase your chances of winning, your strategy should encompass three factors: 

  • Improving efficiency in how you create your proposals. 
  • Focusing on consistency in the process of how you develop and deliver them.  
  • Sharing information with clarity, to ensure ease of understanding.

Efficiency, consistency and clarity sit at the heart of appealing to clients.

Using software automation improves your efficiency. A reliable strategy and process helps you consistently complete quality response applications. And concise language and well-constructed RFP proposal templates communicate your strengths and value with more clarity.

Automation coupled with good writing techniques and potent example templates creates a winning proposal for managers wanting to yield superior, streamlined results in less time, with less effort.

DeepStream stands out from the crowd as a winning choice, as it is incredibly user-friendly, efficient and secure, helping your team take to strategic software like ducks to water.

Procurement software teams want to use.

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