Writing RFP/RFI Responses

By January 12, 2009No Comments

In the last few weeks, I’ve consulted with clients on about a dozen RFP and RFI proposals.  The art of business proposal writing is becoming more important even as it becomes more elusive to entrepreneurs and sales teams.  I will write a series of blogs and newsletters on this topic in the coming weeks.  Today’s writing tips are about organizing information within the sections of your proposal:

  • Credentials.  You’re probably including some boilerplate statements about your company as well as some statements specific to this prospect.  Suddenly the presentation is not coherent to the reader.  It has a little history, a little client data, a few key sales points, and several people have added on.  The fix?  Find 3 key points of emphasis about you company and make all of the details subordinate.
  • Lists.   Suppose you have a list of 15 program components–products and/or services that you intend to provide.  Readers cannot process and comprehend that number of unrelated messages.  Even if they try, the effort leaves them tired and confused.  The fix?  Pull out your few key deliverables.  Make all of the subsidiary components either go away or become sub-points.  P.S.  I am in favor of making them go away.
  • Statements.  At the risk of sounding kind of English-professo-rish,  (I come by it naturally!) there is an easy way to make your key statements more memorable.  And that is to make all of the phrases or sentences follow the same language pattern.  Here’s an example:

Suppose you have statements like these:

–All change orders will be processed by us within 48 hours.
–When we host your help desk service, you are guaranteed to have availability 99.9% of the time.
–All of your account team will be assigned to you as a dedicated team.

Here’s the rewrite on an informal, friendly basis:

  • We process change orders within 48 hours
  • We guarantee 99.9% uptime on your hosted help desk service
  • We assign a dedicated account team

Another rewrite, more formal and distant:

  • Change orders processes within 48 hours
  • 99.9% help desk uptime guaranteed
  • Dedicated account team assigned

Either approach will work.  They key is to use the same pattern of words and phrases, which has the effect of clarity and memorability.

Try these rewrite tips, and let me know how they work for you.