Lesson 7: How to Respond to an RFP
Part 3: How?
How do I get a proposal across the finish line?
The answers to “what” and “who” cover most of the project overview and process. The “how” involves proposal delivery.
How = where + when + to whom
The RFP will almost always outline how the client expects the proposal to be delivered; however, if the RFP is unclear about delivery requirements, be sure to clarify this during the Q&A period. Where and when the proposal is going to be submitted depends on delivery type: hard copy or electronic.
If your proposal is a hard copy submission, you will need to schedule extra time into your project plan to allow for production and possible shipping delays. This can be time consuming and includes printing, binding, and reviewing each copy to ensure your proposal is compliant with the following:
- Number of copies (and/or original signatures)
- Formatting (single-sided vs. double-sided, font, pagination, etc.)
- Binding (3-ring binder, binder combs, staples, binder clips)
- Additional media (CDs, USB drives)
- Packaging (specific labels or other markings, boxes vs. envelopes)
If your proposal is an electronic submission, it’s still important to schedule time to thoroughly review each document and to be familiar with the delivery platform in advance (especially when using a client’s online portal). Technology is amazing when it works, but we’ve all experienced the panic that can ensue when it does not. Consider what your team can do to mitigate risk by establishing a realistic timeline that allows for potential setbacks.
And always check the weather! Both hard copy and electronic submissions can be impacted by power outages, road closures, and heavy storms.
Lastly, make sure your cover page, cover letter and packaging are consistently addressed to the correct recipient. Incorporating “how” your proposal will be delivered into the project plan is just as important as choosing “who” and “what” to include when responding to an RFP.