3 Tips for Getting Great RFP Responses
A sub-par RFP will typically result in sub-par responses, making it difficult to even filter the best from the worst. Below are 3 tips that will get you great RFP responses.
RFP's are a lot like dating. You want to be yourself. You don't want to be talking the whole time. You want to have things in common. You hope they like you back. You hope they like you for who you are. Imagine instead sitting down for a meal and you have multiple people at the table. You hand them a legal document and tell them you'll pick the best date after they respond. That's the RFP process. Yeah, let's not do that. There's a better way. How? Read on...
1. Plan from the end result and work backward
If you’re not getting the results you want or need from your RFP process, my first tip for you is to think about what you want to accomplish through your RFP process. What areas of your site are painful for customers? What are your biggest needs? Why do you want to improve it? Either way, let those goals guide a refresh of your end-to-end process.
For a date, you hope they are tall, dark, and handsome... or maybe not in my case - but still the point stands. Ahead of time, you want to know what you're into and what will make you happy and fall in love. Now do that for your RFP, because working with an agency ain't that different.
2. Keep it short. Bigger isn't better.
You've probably already sent or seen 10+ page RFP's (and that doesn't even include the actual responses). Let's not make that mistake. Let's instead keep it short and sweet. On a night out, no one likes a long-winded talker who goes on and on and on and on...
Instead, write short, friendly sentences. Example:
Do: Please share a few relevant examples.
Don't: Please share 3 portfolio items (no less than 3) that represent the goals of our current initiative while showcasing the future state of this initiative. (Whaaaa? Yes that's an actual RFP question I've received)
And while we're at it, don't dictate the number of examples you want to see. One agency might have 1 amazing project, but never respond because of the minimum requirements...meanwhile you might get respondents with 3 mediocre examples.
3. Transparency. You want it? Give it.
On a date, you want to know the person across the table in an authentic, honest way. You want to know about who they are and how they line up with your needs, standards, and ideals. You want transparency in the responses you receive. You want the truth and clarity so you can better filter out the best-fit date. Did you know that agencies get dozens of RFPs sent their way as well? Which means they to want to filter out the best-fit RFPs as well. Want transparency? Give it. What does that look like?
- Share a budget ballpark, ideally its realistic:
What's the least you want to spend and what's the most? And most companies don't want to provide a budget because they are concerned all responses will merely respond with the same budget number. However, your estimate is probably wrong in the first place (sorry, not sorry) - which means you're going to want to talk with those that give you a spectrum of budgets. This helps you get proposals from agencies who are legitimately interested. Some agencies won't even respond if there isn't a budget
- Eliminating factors:
Does the agency have to be local? Does the agency have to be minority owned? Is the agency required to have won a specific award? Does the agency need to be a certain size?
- Desired deadlines, not an estimate:
If the project already has deadlines attached to it, make those apparent up front. Don’t tell an agency how long it should take them.
- Input from your technical team:
Agencies need to be aware of any technical details, dependencies, or constraints from the beginning - or let them know you don't have a technical team if that's the case.
- A single voice:
Have one owner who is responsible for the final draft of the RFP document. The RFP document should not read like 13 different people wrote every other sentence.
When going on these big dates with agencies, we hope that by following these steps you get great RFP responses for your next project. If you want to get a great RFP response from us, upload your RFP here: https://www.copiousagency.com/contact