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8 Ways to Level-Up Your RFP Responses In a Difficult Market

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We asked the proposal community to share their ideas and tips for handling RFPs during an economic slowdown—and were overwhelmed by the response. Hundreds of proposal managers shared insights. So, we’ve started a series of articles for RFP teams to share knowledge from industry pros on tackling challenges together.

Today’s topic: What can teams do to create winning RFP responses during a downturn?

According to 8 experts, here’s how to create a successful RFP response (and edge out the competition).

For more original research highlighting how 300+ RFP responders are coping with RFP management and remote work in today’s climate, check out our recent report: How Proposal Teams are Managing RFPs During COVID-19.

Successful RFP Responses Start With Personalization

It should come as no surprise that a customized response gives proposal teams a winning edge. Check out five expert-recommended tactics for winning RFP responses with the power of personalization.

1. Personalize Proposals With Specific Visuals For Each Client

“We try our best to include proposal cover photos that are personalized to each client. Especially in this time, we've heard feedback that it makes clients feel special since we haven't just sent them a standardized response.”

-Jenny Citron, Bid Development Specialist, Simpleview

2. A Cover Letter Is a Simple, Yet Powerful Tool

“In your next proposal, include a powerful letter of introduction (whether it's requested or not). The letter should be meaningful, authentic, and relevant to that particular RFP. And, you should aim to make it resonate with each member on the evaluation team. Try including points which appeal to finance, procurement and end-users too.”

-Karen McElroy, CEO, Boardroom Metrics Inc.

3. Be Flexible to Prospect Needs

“This crisis has taught us accessibility, flexibility, and security are more critical than ever. Providing services in the same way you always have won’t be sufficient.

This is a great time to show prospects how your organization quickly adapted to the most recent economic and healthcare crises. For RFPs, you must determine what has changed (processes, procedures, communications, customer service, hours, staffing, services), how those changes will be pulled through or implemented long term and how you write to them. Your responses will need to incorporate what has changed, why it changed, how long the changes will last, and if there are any timelines to returning to previous business acumen. ”

-Lisa Longley, Vice President, Weber Associates

4. Position Your Product As Solution for Pain Points

“We have started to put more of a personal touch on our responses by referring to each customer by name and calling out their current issues or headaches. Then, we identify how our product alleviates those pain points.”

-Stephen Remmert, Senior Sales Analyst, SailPoint Technologies

5. Understand New Problems Your Customers Are Facing

“You can't sell a product that doesn't meet client needs. Make sure you understand the new problems that your clients are facing, so you can propose alternate use cases for your product or service. Spend more time talking to your clients to identify the unique pain points that have emerged during the COVID-19 crisis.”

-Kathryn Bennett, Proposal Manager, Dude Solutions

For further insights on navigating successful RFP responses in the wake of COVID-19, watch Loopio’s on-demand webinar, Managing RFPs In Uncertain Times.

Update Your RFP Response Messaging to Differentiate Yourself from the Competition  

Adapt. Prepare. And keep things simple. With the right messaging, your winning RFP responses will stand out in a sea of standardized submissions. Here's how you should update your RFP messaging to suit today’s climate.

6. Use Customer Success Stories to Grow Your Business

“Nothing brings your solution to life more than the words from your current customers. Collect testimonials and success stories that bring your client collaboration to life during this time, and share those as part of your next RFP submission.”

-Lisa Longley, Vice President, Weber Associates

7. Be Prepared For The Unknown Future

“There is a lot of uncertainty in today's business environment. The more you can incorporate how you will help the company see around the corner and proactively prepare them for the unknown, the better.”

-Matthew Prinn, Principal, RFP Advisory Group

8. Highlight the Simplicity of Your Product

“Emphasizing how your solution can help prospects get through difficulties is key. It also helps to highlight how you can be accommodating in any situation, such as how you can work without person-to-person contact and provide support quickly and easily.”

-Gina Kutsch, Director, Proposal Development, OnSolve

Adapting Your RFP Response Strategy In Today’s Climate

Shifting your RFP’s messaging isn’t the only thing you can do to drive value right now. Many RFP managers are facing a dip in proposal submissions—meaning it may be time to take a more proactive approach to your response strategy.

“Why not coach salespeople to think about renewal proposals? Are there any contracts that come up for renewal later in 2020?” says Jon Williams, Managing Director, Strategic Proposals. “Is there potential to send the clients a great document now, explaining the benefits of renewing the contract to avoid competitive tender?"

To learn more about how to shift your response strategy, join our community roundtable discussion.

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