Answering questions issued by prospects is a crucial part of the sales process.
Also known as a request for proposal (RFP) responses, these are a key element that prospects use to decide whether or not you are the right partner for them.
How you deal with RFP responses can mean the difference between landing a deal or losing it to a competitor.
Crafting great RFP responses takes a lot of time and energy, especially if you’re doing it manually. The process can be tedious, repetitive, and time-consuming.
There are several mistakes you could be making in your RFP response process. These can hurt your chances of winning bids and gaining new clients.
In this article, you will learn the top ten challenges companies face during the RFP response preparation process and how to fix them.
1. Ignoring the prospect’s priorities
When positioning your business as the best option for your prospect, you might forget to think about their actual needs. This can lead to an RFP that focuses on what your business does rather than how it can serve the prospect.
To prevent this, read over your RFP and make sure it includes your prospect’s specific wants and needs.
As you create your response, make sure the content centers on the prospect, not your business. Focus on showing the prospect why and how you’re the best bet for the job.
2. Not doing your research
After carefully reading the RFP, research everything you can about the prospect. Make sure you know as much as possible about them, as this will help you craft a well-informed response.
You can’t create a winning RFP response if you know nothing about your prospect. Lack of research will show in your response, and the prospect may decide to drop you.
3. Giving vague or unclear answers
The RFPs you receive will likely come as a list of questions the prospect wants you to answer.
Being vague or unclear in your answers will not make them more curious. Rather, it will turn them off and they’ll stop seeing your business as a potential vendor.
As you create your response, make sure to be detailed and specific.
4. Forgetting the importance of social proof
It’s not enough to simply state that your product or service is the best option out there.
Your prospect will do research on your business. This is why you should take advantage of your response and provide evidence of your success. Offer statistics and testimonials from trusted sources.
At the same time, don’t forget about the first rule. Strike a balance between showing the prospect that you’re a good fit for the job and that you understand their needs.
5. Using overly-technical language
Don’t assume that your prospect is an expert in your product or service. You might think that using technical language demonstrates expertise – in reality, it makes it difficult for your prospect to understand what you’re saying.
Simplifying the language you use will help your prospect understand your offer. This will increase your chances of closing the sale.
6. Making your response too long
Another big mistake is making your RFP too long. Some prospects might include a page limit, but you should still aim to provide only the most relevant information.
Be as concise as possible. This doesn’t mean you should be vague. Rather, you should provide your prospect with only the most relevant information. Anything more than what is necessary can feel like a waste of time for the prospect.
7. Taking too long to submit
Prospects usually give a submission deadline for responses. But this doesn’t mean you should submit it on the very last day. If you take too long to send in your response, you increase the likelihood that your prospect moves on to a competitor.
To minimize this risk, submit your RFP response as quickly as possible by automating your RFP response process. This will cut the repetitive work down, giving you more time to focus on more important aspects of your response.
Survey data also shows that using an RFP tool can help you submit more responses each year.
8. Rushing through the process
Although taking too long to submit is a common mistake, so is rushing through your RFP response. The goal is not to be the first one to submit, but rather to submit a high-quality response as soon as possible.
The moment you receive an RFP, get right to work. Take time to prepare a high-quality response, but keep the submission deadline in mind.
9. Ignoring the design of your response
Your RFP response’s content is more important than the document’s design. However, design is still important to make a good, lasting impression with your prospect. Ignoring the design of your response can hurt your chances of winning a client.
Allocate some time to perfect your response’s design. You don’t need to be a graphic designer or artist to achieve this. Simply remember that your design’s goal is to attract prospects’ attention.
10. Not editing or proofreading
With the long and tedious process of creating an RFP response, you might forget to revise or proofread it before submitting it. This is a small mistake with big implications.
A response with grammatical errors tells prospects that you didn’t care enough to revise it, leaving a negative impression of your business. Run your content through an editing software that you trust to ensure high-quality content.
The process of crafting an RFP response isn't easy, especially for businesses that rely on RFPs for revenue. When working on your RFP response, you need to be fully aware of the mistakes you can make.
- The framework of your response should center around the prospect's priorities, expectations, and needs.
- Do research on the prospective client to write a well-informed response.
- Offer clear and concise answers to each of the prospect's questions.
- Provide evidence of your success with data, testimonials, and statistics.
- Avoid using overly-technical language that might confuse the prospect.
- Be aware of your response’s length and be as concise as possible.
- Don't wait until the last day of submissions to send your response. But don't rush through the response process, either. Find a balance.
- Keep the design of your response in mind, as it creates an impression.
- Revise, edit, and proofread the content before submitting your response.
Simply being aware of these mistakes can help you catch them before you submit your response, decreasing the chances of losing a bid.