Every business wants to maximise its Request For Proposal (RFP) win rate – and there’s an easy way to start – Work on fewer, better-qualified RFPs.
Then, assuming you measure Win-Rate as:
(Number of pre-qualified RFPs Won)/(Number of pre-qualified RFPs worked on)
by working on fewer, higher-quality RFPs, win rates will increase. You also need to consider Average Order Values (no point in winning a lot of deals that are too small!) – have a look at one of our other blogs on increasing AoV here.
What Is An RFP Response?
On a very basic level, a request for proposal (RFP) response is a supplier’s answers to the specific set of questions that a company’s procurement team has included within their RFP.
During a complex purchasing process with many suppliers competing for business, businesses will often demand succinct answers to the questions they’ve posed. Due to this, suppliers must recognise the importance of providing considered and realistic answers to these questions.
How to qualify RFPs and improve your win-rate
The best and quickest way of improving your RFP win rate is to refrain from bidding on opportunities that your business can’t realistically win. Companies can often assume that they have an increased chance of winning business, by responding to every single RFP they receive. It might seem obvious, but suppliers can waste countless days/weeks every year writing proposals which never pay off, and were never going to.
As a starting point, you need to use an RFP Qualification tool to objectively score yourself about “is this one we can realistically win”? Try using our FREE CALCULATOR: The RFP Qualification Scorecard
The scorecard questionnaire will take you about 2 minutes, and will enable you to objectively answer questions like:
- Can you meet the budget holder as part of the process?
- Who’s the competition?
- Do you have deep domain expertise in solving this kind of problem?
- Is there a budget you can work within?
- Do you have a sales coach inside the client?
Once you’ve got your score, you can then decide on next steps BEFORE committing days/weeks to fill it in.
So now you’ve decided to bid – how do you maximise your win rate?
Understand The Prospect’s Priorities
Steer your proposal in the direction of your customer’s specific needs. Instead of trying to sell the features and benefits of your products or services, use the available time you have to zero in on the problems that your customer has. Providing details of how you can solve the priority problems that customers are facing, and drive benefits, is the starting point.
Whenever I’ve been on the receiving end of an RFP response, I’ve looked for 3 key things:
- Have they answered the exam question?
- Have they provided evidence to support their answer?
- Have they added value that I didn’t ask for on top of their response?
Be Persuasive With Your Proposal
- Summarise the potential customer’s specific needs. Tell them where you’ve seen this problem before and what you did about it.
- Focus on what they’ve asked for. Make your response succinct.
- Outline the outcomes that could be possible if your potential customer decides to choose your services. Show them how their life would be made easier if they were to choose your products or services.
- Providing clear evidence and reference points that your business is the best choice.
Differentiate Your Offer And Your Company
No one wins on the “lowest price” alone. Anyone can buy it cheap! Make it clear how you’re able to add value that your competitors can’t. As there’ll be intense competition most of the time, it’s crucial to highlight how your business’ approach is not just different, but adds significantly more value to them and reduces their risks.
Provide case studies
Show your potential client that companies (and people), like them, buy your services and get great results. You need client logos and quotes from senior people. Keep them short, and make sure they illustrate the point that you solved similar problems for other great brands.
Make Your Proposal Easy To Understand
Getting bogged down with complex corporate purchasing decisions can already be a stressful and time-consuming task. ensuring that your potential customer’s buying journey remains smooth and unproblematic will help to make your proposal seem much more attractive. Don’t overcomplicate your proposals by using terms or sentences which are unnecessary or too complex. Removing jargon and unnecessary acronyms will ensure that your potential customers will be able to clearly understand your proposition without having to spend time interpreting your answers.
A really useful tip is to make sure that your proposal is easy to skim read, which will allow potential customers to gain insight into your offering, without taking too much time out of their day. Make sure that you highlight the most important elements of your proposal and try to avoid drawing attention to every single element of your proposal. be succinct, add bullet points and draw attention to necessary elements.
Get an independent reviewer
For bigger opportunities, get someone independent to “mark your homework” before you submit it. We do this a lot for clients, and it makes a material difference to their win rates.
It’s vital to ensure that your proposal is free from mistakes. Remember, it doesn’t matter how impressive or persuasive your proposal is if it has multiple spelling and grammar errors.
Ensure that your proposal is proofread by other employees within your business so that a fresh pair of eyes can spot any potential errors. Remember, these proposals are an incredibly important way of showcasing your brand. Submitting this to potential customers with errors, or in an unprofessional way, is harmful to your business. Take time and care to ensure that this is the best representation of what your company can provide.
Did you know that RFPs can represent 33% of revenues? They are an essential part of many businesses’ sales growth plans, but they often take days/weeks to complete. So knowing how to streamline your RFP process is instrumental in driving growth.
This article contains 7 tips on improving your RFP win rate. But if you aren’t sure where to start in writing your RFP, you can begin by using our FREE CALCULATOR: The RFP Qualification Scorecard.