Want to submit even better RFP responses? Involve marketing
Involve marketing for a better RFP response.
The RFP (request for proposal) response. The long detailed document, that if done well, gets you a lot closer to winning an important deal.
Yet many companies scramble at the last minute to turn in a rushed response. That doesn’t even get final proofreading.
We know responding to an RFP is important. We know our responses could be better. But too many of us seem resigned to the current situation. Since with so many people involved in responses, driving better coordination may feel unachievable.
If you’re willing to carve out a little planning time and involve your marketing team, you can submit stellar RFP responses.
To improve RFP responses, follow these 5 steps:
- Involve your marketing team from the beginning.
- Create a Message Map to guide your strategy.
- Agree on a template upfront.
- Use clear, compelling language and visual aids.
- Edit and proofread.
Involve your marketing team
As soon as you receive an RFP and the deadline for response, find out who can be involved from your marketing team. A marketer can help you create an overall theme for your response and ensure that the final submission is free of errors and speaks in a consistent voice.
Your marketing person also can offer advice on when to use graphics to better make your point and help keep the response team on track.
Remember that even though different people at your prospect company may review different parts of your RFP response, you still need to look like one company and ensure that the benefits of your solution are clear and compelling to every reviewer.
Create a Message Map to guide your RFP response strategy
Most RFPs call for detailed responses that are many pages or slides long, including those that contain several sections. Companies often divide sections among different people, resulting in a response that lacks a consistent voice, tone, and message.
To avoid this situation, co-create a Message Map with your core team, including your marketer, before anyone starts working on the RFP response. Agree on the core themes of your response, which need to clearly state the benefits the buyer will gain by choosing your solution.
Ensure that the people responsible for each section of the RFP response are in your Message Map session, so everyone can discuss how they will weave one unified theme into their respective sections.
If you can, create a slide or paragraph with the overall response message that you can include at the beginning of every section.
Agree on a template
I recently helped a client with an important RFP response. They had agreed on a theme for the response, but not everyone followed the template or used the theme the same way.
As a result, the response looked like what it was: a mishmash of slides created by several different people. It was confusing to read and didn’t deliver a consistent message, look, and feel. The company didn’t look nearly as professional as they are.
Agree on a template upfront. Regardless of the application, you will have a much better chance of delivering a consistent experience to your buyers.
Use clear, compelling language in your RFP response
Sometimes we get so caught up in ensuring we answer the specific questions in the RFP that we forget to ensure our response is clear, compelling, and understandable to our audience.
One of the benefits of involving your marketing team in the RFP response process is that they will come to better understand your solutions and services. So, they can review the response to ensure you’re clearly presenting your benefits to your buyers.
Marketers help ensure that the key takeaways are clear and that the details make sense.
Proofread, proofread, proofread
Remember that to look professional, spelling and grammar count. Make sure you leave enough time for a marketer to thoroughly review and polish your entire RFP response. That one move can give you an edge over the competition.
With a little planning and some help from your marketing team, you can elevate the RFP process and consistently submit stellar RFP responses that give you a better shot at winning deals.
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