Because RFPs (request for proposal) are a great way to gain new customers, businesses need to know how to respond to them effectively. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Unless potential clients are beating down the door to buy your products, (which is unlikely unless you happen to be named Salesforce), your company needs to know how to present its products and services convincingly. The RFP is your chance to convince potential clients that they should buy your services or products–not just the first time, but every time.
1. Know Your Client
You need to know who you’re talking to. Know the client’s history, their last quarter’s performance, how they got started and what got to them to where they are now. Knowing more about the company will enable you to offer valuable solutions that are well-suited to the client’s current needs, while also anticipating future requests.
2. Keep It Simple
Rather than overwhelming a potential client with numbers, stats and data, focus on what your products and services can do for them. Have an easy way to explain costs, contracts and timelines to the potential client. Few businesses want to buy a product or service they don’t fully understand, and nobody will agree to a service if they don’t have a clear idea of what it will cost them over time.
3. Tell a Story
Humans love stories. It’s easy to include a previous success story when responding to an RFP. Try to include a story that the potential client will relate to, like a brief narrative about how a current client in the same industry expanded and flourished because of your services. As much as efficiency and professionalism are expected and appreciated, it’s nice to know that there are humans behind the communications between customer and vendor.
Remember that your response to an RFP is your company’s first chance to make a good and lasting impression on potential clients. Just consider what you would want to receive, if the roles were reversed. By keeping these three tips in mind–know your client, keep it simple, and tell a story–responding to RFPs can be more personal and more specific to a potential client’s needs, which will result in better business for everyone involved.
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