How to Increase Your Chances of Winning an RFP

Over on the Creative Freelancer Conference LinkedIn group, there is a question from Aimee about responding to RFPs.

Here is a short excerpt from the RFP chapter in my new book, The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money.

1. Make contact. Whenever possible, make contact with the
prospect to clarify anything you don’t understand. In fact,
this is a good idea even if you think you understand everything.
If you can reach someone with influence, this conversation
alone will separate you from those who simply reply
to the RFP without any actual contact. And if you do make
contact, request a meeting. You never know; they may agree,
in which case you’ll have a chance to ask your questions and
show your work when the competition didn’t. That alone will
give you a leg up.

2. Follow the structure of the RFP exactly. It goes without
saying that you should read the RFP carefully, although not
everyone does. Beyond that, most RFPs request the response
in a very specific order. Don’t even think about using your
own proposal template. Don’t add information they don’t ask
for. Deliver what the prospect says they need, not what you
think they need. (That can come later, if you get the job.)

3. Get help. It’s best to have two people involved, a writer and
an editor, in an RFP you’re serious about. Make the investment
and hire a professional to either write it for you or, once
you’ve drafted it, have it professionally edited. You can also
hire a professional to draft a template for you that you can
then tailor to each situation.

Do you have any advice on RFPs? The specs of the project on the table can be found here. Please add your two cents.

3 thoughts on “How to Increase Your Chances of Winning an RFP

  1. Kenny

    Just got this book & am already loving it. I’m only a couple chapters in, but you’ve already confronted some of my wrong mindsets about money & given alternative ways of thinking & approaching it.

    Thanks for this resource!

  2. Pamela Saxon

    Ilise, I just received an RFP for an annual report today, and because of your post, I felt it was “okay” to make contact with the person requesting the bid.

    I called, and asked her what her budget was, and she did not hesitate to tell me. Score! She then let me know that they plan on using the person who wins the bid for other projects as well. Score 2! And, because I called and asked some questions, I was able to also set up a time to present my proposal to them in person. Home run!

    I know this doesn’t mean I will actually get the job, but I have built a repoire with the woman requesting the bid. We shared a few laughs, and I think she will remember me as a human being and not just another one of the 8 designers they sent the RFP to.

  3. Ilise Benun

    Thanks so much, Kenny, glad it’s helping already.
    And WOW Pam, that’s incredible and just proves to me, once again, that timing is everything! Also, you don’t get unless you ask. Keep us posted on how it goes.