Whether you’re working for a small agency or a serious marketing firm, you’re probably eventually going to wish to fill out a Request for Proposal, or RFP.
Your organization can’t do every little thing internally, and when your corporation needs to buy a services or products from elsewhere, you would possibly have to shop around. An RFP lets you collect offers from various vendors and choose the seller that best meets your criteria, each with regard to skill and budget.
Any time you outsource work to a supplier, there’s a possible for issues akin to miscommunication across the scope of the work and the compensation. What a very good RFP does is eliminate gray areas in order that each parties understand what must be delivered, when, and for a way much.
Here, we’ve provided an RFP template you’ll be able to follow for initial structure, in addition to a sample RFP for further inspiration. Nevertheless it isn’t one-size-fits-all — you’ll have to tailor your RFP to best articulate your organization’s needs.
Not that you just’ve seen the template, how do you really write an RFP? We’ve got you covered.
How you can Write an RFP
- Define your project, scope, and budget.
- Provide background and introductory information.
- Describe the services you’re on the lookout for.
- Explain any challenges or barriers to success for the project.
- Detail your selection criteria.
- Specify your project’s timeline.
- Proofread your RFP and go live.
1. Define your project, scope, and budget.
Before issuing your RFP, take the time to define the project you’re looking to finish, its scope, and the way much you’ll be able to afford to spend. This information provides the framework in your RFP and helps be sure that it strikes a balance between too general and overly detailed. Not only that, but it should help potential vendors understand your priorities and tailor their proposals accordingly.
On this step, try to supply a transparent and concise description. Avoid using overly technical language or industry jargon that may very well be confusing to potential vendors. The difference is subtle, but could make a world of a difference in helping you receive better-fit proposals. Here’s an example:
- Good: “Our company is looking for a CRM system that integrates with our existing marketing automation software and provides real-time reporting. The answer needs to be easy to make use of and scalable to accommodate our growing customer base. Our budget for this project is $50,000.”
- Not-so-good: “Our company desires to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system that integrates with our existing marketing automation software and provides real-time reporting capabilities for our sales team to grasp customer data more quickly and efficiently. The answer needs to be scalable and versatile to accommodate our growing customer base, and it needs to be easy to make use of for non-technical team members.”
You’ll be able to see how the great version provides a transparent and concise description of the services needed, budget, and key requirements, while avoiding overly technical language and jargon that may very well be confusing. This makes it easier for vendors to grasp what’s required and craft a proposal that meets your needs.
2. Provide background and introductory information.
With budget and scope in hand, you’ll be able to start crafting your RFP. While it’s tempting to dive right into the main points, it’s a very good idea to supply some background and introductory data about your organization. This helps set the stage for potential partners by giving them a way of your current market, business goals, and current challenges.
Listed here are three suggestions for adding background and introductory information to your RFP:
- Provide an organization overview: Start the RFP by providing a high-level overview of your organization, including your history, mission, vision, and current market position. This information helps vendors understand more about your corporation goals and provides context for the project. Vendors can use this information to tailor their proposals to your organization’s values and objectives.
- Highlight current challenges and opportunities: We cover this intimately later, but it surely bears repeating: List the present challenges you’re facing, together with opportunities you’d wish to capitalize on. This information helps vendors understand specific areas of need and supply recent or higher options for you.
- Provide contact information: Make sure to provide an email address and phone number that vendors can use to submit questions on your RFP.
By providing an summary of your organization’s history, highlighting current challenges and opportunities, and providing clear contact information, you may help prospective vendors craft a tailored proposal that aligns along with your organization’s goals.
3. Describe the services you’re on the lookout for.
Now it’s time to get specific concerning the services you’re on the lookout for to assist achieve your goals. For instance, for those who’re constructing an internet site, you would possibly look for a corporation with each front-end and back-end development experience. In case you’re making a mobile app, highlight the necessity for specific skills in that area, akin to expertise in responsive design and constructing applications for multiple mobile platforms.
You’ll be able to take various approaches when describing the services you’re looking for in an RFP, but we at all times recommend incorporating bullet points or breaking up your information in order that it’s easy for vendors to scan. Listed here are two examples.
RFP for Content Marketing Services: Our company is on the lookout for an agency to develop a novel content marketing strategy tailored specifically to our consumer base. The goal of this project is to draw and have interaction recent customers while retaining current ones. Our ideal vendor:
- Has experience in creating content in various formats akin to blog posts, social media, infographics, and videos
- Has experience in website positioning optimization, keyword research, and content distribution
- Can leverage data and analytics to enhance content performance
RFP for Video Production Services: Our brand’s content team is on the lookout for a video production company to provide a series of videos for our YouTube channel. Our goal is to construct brand awareness, drive web traffic, and increase our YouTube marketing ROI. The best vendor:
- Has experience in producing high-quality videos across various formats akin to live-action, animation, screencast, whiteboard, and academic video
- Can provide a highly responsive, collaborative, and transparent communication process
- Has a transparent process from ideation, production, revision, and final delivery
4. Explain any challenges or barriers to success for the project.
Through the bidding process, it’s crucial to be transparent about your project’s potential barriers to success. By doing so, you give potential partners and vendors the chance to supply solutions to those challenges.
Otherwise, partners or vendors may not fully understand the scope of the project and any potential difficulties which will arise. This lack of expertise may lead to delayed timelines, increased costs, or ultimately, project failure.
Moreover, withholding the barriers to success could end in an absence of trust between your organization and the seller team. This may increasingly result in misaligned expectations and misunderstandings. But by being transparent concerning the potential barriers to success, you’ll be able to increase the likelihood of finding the proper vendor and completing the project successfully.
5. Detail your selection criteria.
Next up are the choice criteria. Here, you’ll be able to highlight which skills, services, and market expertise are required for consideration. That is the time to get specific: Clear descriptions of selection criteria will help reduce the danger of sorting through multiple proposals that don’t meet your needs.This can assist you to make an informed decision when choosing the very best vendor for the project.
Specifying the choice criteria early on in the method improves transparency. If vendors don’t meet the factors, they won’t submit a proposal, or they’ll optimize their proposals to satisfy your needs. This eliminates ambiguity, confusion, and frustration on each side, and avoids unnecessary backwards and forwards.
Plus, evaluating vendors against the choice criteria also ensures that the project is awarded based on objective judgment reasonably than on subjective opinion.
Some examples of selection criteria that you would be able to specify in an RFP are:
- Experience: The seller must have extensive experience in delivering projects much like the one described in your RFP.
- Qualifications: The seller should have the ability to reveal their expertise within the relevant technology, software, or methodology required to finish your project.
- Cost: The seller should provide detailed pricing and have the ability to reveal how their proposal matches inside your budget.
- References: The seller should provide references from past clients who’ve used their services for similar projects.
- Methodology: The seller should outline their approach to managing your project, including project management processes, resources management, and project delivery timelines.
- Availability: The seller should provide details of their capability to tackle the project, the provision of their resources, and an expected delivery timeline.
- Team Profiles: The seller should include detailed profiles of the members of the team assigned to deliver the project, highlighting their experience in relevant areas and their qualifications.
- Technical compatibility: The seller should have the ability to make sure compatibility with other technologies or systems utilized by your organization, akin to other software solutions or APIs.
6. Specify your project’s timeline.
It’s also essential to be up-front about your timelines. Give potential partners an end date for RFP submission, a date for final selection, and a transparent start-to-finish project timeline so corporations making a proposal can fine-tune their bid. This will even assist you to narrow down the pool of potential vendors and be sure that the project is accomplished on time.
A timeline advantages everyone throughout the bidding process. With a timeline in place, vendors receive clear guidance on when your project have to be accomplished and may plan their resources accordingly, ensuring timely delivery. The seller may communicate the crucial deadlines to their team, minimizing the danger of delays and ensuring that your project is delivered successfully.
Here’re an example of what a timeline can seem like, but do not forget that it should vary depending in your RFP’s format, in addition to your goal vendors’ industries:
“The marketing department at HubSpot is seeking to hire a digital marketing agency to assist with a recent promoting campaign. Proposals have to be submitted by August 1st and the campaign launch must occur no later than September fifteenth, in time for the back-to-school season.”
7. Proofread your RFP and go live.
Last but never least? Proofread your RFP — then proofread it again. Why? Because even small mistakes could derail project timelines. Consider a zero missing in your budget details, or a miscommunication concerning the dates that proposals are due and selections are made; each could force a restart of your entire RFP process and waste precious time.
Do not forget that your goal is to ask as many proposals as possible, and to make it easy for vendors to reply. An accidental typo, akin to a project name that you just forgot to interchange or incorrect contact information, could make it that much harder to extend your response rate.
When you’re satisfied that every little thing in your RFP is accurate and complete, it’s time to go live. Send out emails and post links in your site to start out the means of finding your best-fit provider. To streamline this process, consider proposal software to publish and manage responses to your RFP.
Now that you just understand the fundamentals of writing an RFP, you’ll be able to construct your personal template after which fill it out so that you would be able to start accepting bids. We’ll use a fictitious company, Caroline’s Web sites, Inc., for example exactly how each section needs to be executed.
Company Name: Caroline’s Web sites, Inc.
Address: 302 Inbound Ave.
City, State, Zip Code: Boston, MA 29814
Procurement Contact Person: Caroline Forsey
Telephone Variety of PCP: 227-124-2481
Email Address of PCP: email@example.com
Fax Number: N/A
Next, we’ll go into each of the weather of the RFP with information using the identical fictitious company.
1. Write your background and introduction.
In your introductory paragraph, you’ll want to incorporate useful background details about your organization — who founded it, what services or products your organization offers, what sets you aside from competitors, and where you’re positioned. If any vendor is serious about working with you, they’ll want this information before moving forward.
Caroline’s Web sites, Inc. is an internet design firm created by Caroline Forsey in 2010. Caroline’s Web sites, Inc. prides itself on a team-oriented, solutions-based approach to website design. We offer our clients with website design services including coding, development, and branding. Our staff is positioned in two offices in Massachusetts.
2. Define your project goals and scope of services.
Next, you’ll want to stipulate the project you wish accomplished, and the goals you expect to perform from the project. It’s essential you get as specific as possible — even outlining individual tasks and criteria involved. You’ll want to incorporate phrases akin to “The award will likely be given to X firm,” with the “X” establishing the way you’ll determine the very best candidate.
Caroline’s Web sites, Inc. is looking for the services of a full-service communications and marketing firm to develop and execute a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that increases our website positioning presence; attracts more social media followers; and effectively completes a lead generation campaign. The award will likely be made to a responsive and responsible firm based on the very best value and skilled capability.
The chosen firm will likely be liable for the event and implementation of a comprehensive and cost-effective marketing plan.
Tasks include but might not be limited to the next criteria:
- Lead generation campaign
- Paid media strategy
- Production of creative material including collateral and unsolicited mail
- Internet marketing campaign
- Website enhancement
- Search engine marketing
- General account management
- Other communications and/or marketing-related assistance as required
3. Detail your anticipated selection schedule.
It’s crucial you include an in depth schedule so vendors know in the event that they can meet your deadlines. You’ll also need to provide vendors a window for after they can ask questions regarding your project.
The Request for Proposal timeline is as follows:
Request for RFP: June 1, 20XX
Deadline for Bidders to Submit Questions: July 5, 20XX
[Company Name] Responds to Bidder Questions: July 20, 20XX
Number of Top Bidders / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: July 31, 20XX
Start of Negotiation: August 5, 20XX
Contract Award / Notification to Unsuccessful Bidders: August 31, 20XX
4. Describe the time and place for the submission of proposals.
Much like paragraph #3, this is essential information you’ll wish to clearly present, so vendors understand how and where to submit themselves for consideration.
The RFP will likely be posted on our website, Carolinewebsites.com, and could be downloaded from there directly as of 10 a.m. on June 1, 20XX.
Respondents to this RFP must submit one original and five copies of their proposal. Responses have to be received no later than July 25, 20XX. Responses needs to be clearly marked “RFP-MarketingServices” and mailed or delivered to the contact person listed above.
5. Clearly define your timeline.
By including a time-frame in your RFP, you’re capable of eliminate any vendor who can’t work inside your time constraints. In case you’re flexible in your time, you’ll be able to write something like, “Our company hopes to complete the project inside six months, but we’re open to negotiation for the proper candidate.”
Caroline’s Web sites, Inc. needs the project accomplished inside 8 months.
6. Specify the important thing elements of a proposal.
In case you don’t outline clearly and specifically what you expect bidders to incorporate of their proposal, you’ll be able to’t necessarily fault them in the event that they don’t include it. It’s critical you outline a checklist so vendors know which elements you’re expecting to receive. It’s also a very good test for who’s able to handling your demands — if a vendor can’t complete all elements of your proposal, you almost certainly can’t trust them to complete your project, either.
A submission must, at a minimum, include the next elements:
- Description of the firm that features a general overview, names and credentials of creative team, variety of full-time employees.
- A one-page narrative outlining the firm’s strengths and distinguishing skills or capabilities as they may relate to Caroline’s Web sites, Inc.
- A representative choice of social media ads, direct response material, collateral, and website development created for current and past clients.
7. Make your evaluation criteria clear.
Outlining your expectations will help eliminate vendors who don’t meet them. For this section, you’ll wish to do some brainstorming along with your team to give you a compulsory list of things you’re feeling are the very best indicators of impressive candidates. Your list could include samples of past work, a proven success record with corporations in similar industries, the expertise and technical skills to satisfy your demands, and a price of services inside your price range.
The successful respondent can have:
- Experience working as a marketing agency for no less than 24 months and possess full-service, in-house capabilities for marketing, creative services, production, media planning and placement, direct response, and research.
- The education, experience, knowledge, skills, and qualifications of the firm and the individuals who will likely be available to supply these services.
- The competitive cost of services.
- The expertise of the firm in working with similar customers.
8. Describe any possible roadblocks.
Here, you’ll want to stipulate any roadblocks, akin to limited resources or a custom website, which may prevent certain vendors from successfully completing the project. This lets you eliminate unsatisfactory bidders, and it should also assist you to determine which vendors have the talents and expertise to tackle those challenges.
Right now, Caroline’s Web sites, Inc. currently has custom coding on our website, of which bidders needs to be aware.
9. State your budget for the project.
Any vendor must understand how much you’re capable of pay them for his or her services before they’ll move forward with their bid.
Caroline’s Web sites, Inc.’s budget for the project is $8,750.00.
These elements were written in a technique to make clear the scope of the project that Caroline’s Web sites, Inc. wants accomplished in order that suppliers know whether or to not make a bid. Defining the project allows the bidder to find out in the event that they’re a very good fit and the way much they’d likely charge. Being as transparent as possible serves to learn (and even protect) each parties in the long term.
Suggestions for Writing an RFP
There are several key actions that you would be able to take to extend the likelihood of a vendor responding to your RFP. At the identical time, certain aspects may cause a vendor to be less more likely to respond.
Listed here are some tricks to assist you to optimize your RFPs to realize a high response rate from vendors.
1. Provide open lines of communication.
In case you establish open communication lines with vendors throughout the bidding process, you’re more more likely to see a better response rate. Why? Providing access to a degree of contact — or establishing a schedule for conference calls or in-person meetings — can show that your organization is invested in the seller response process.
We also recommend purposefully asking your prospective vendors to hunt clarification. Encourage them to ask questions on the RFP and the project itself. The more they understand your needs, the higher their proposals will likely be, and the better it should be so that you can make an informed decision.
2. Don’t skimp on project details, but keep it transient and scannable.
Vendors are less likely to answer RFPs if the project details are insufficient or unclear. In case you don’t provide detailed instructions and requirements in your project, vendors may interpret the project scope otherwise, causing them to submit proposals that don’t specifically address your needs.
Conversely, vendors are more likely to answer RFPs that provide well-defined project goals and timelines, because that enables them to raised evaluate their abilities and supply informed proposals.
That said, you ought to keep your information as scannable as possible. Benefit from formatting options akin to bullet points and headings. A vendor is probably going flipping through many RFPs in a day, so you wish them to get the data they need after a transient scan of your document.
3. Establish a competitive budget and ample deadline.
Vendors usually tend to be excited by responding to your RFP in the event that they feel that their pricing is competitive, and in the event that they feel that your deadline and timeline is affordable for the project’s specifications.
However, vendors could also be hesitant to send you a proposal if there may be a brief deadline, or if the timeline is especially compressed. This might indicate that your organization will not be allowing enough time for vendors to conduct research and submit accurate proposals.
4. Research your goal vendor’s industry and marketplace.
Have you ever ever bought a bit of software that you understand nothing about? Us, either, and we wouldn’t recommend you do the identical when considering submitted proposals to your RFPs.
Researching the seller marketplace beforehand can assist you to develop more realistic budgets, timelines, and goals. You’ll be able to create highly specific selection criteria and higher discover which vendors will probably meet your budget and time constraints.
With insufficient knowledge concerning the market, you could possibly by chance underestimate the resources required in your project, or set unrealistic timelines and expectations. This miscommunication can misguide vendors, leading them to either submit a proposal that will not be a very good fit or entirely opt out of bidding.
RFP vs RFI
A request for information (RFI) is often precedes an RFP. Whereas RFIs are used to pinpoint potential vendors, RFPs help corporations make final decisions.
Because the name makes clear, RFIs are about collecting information. They’re utilized by corporations to get a way of what solutions are available on the market and the way the businesses that provide these solutions could help solve a key problem or complete a key task. RFIs ask corporations to submit data about what they do, what they provide, and the way they may help achieve specific goals.
RFPs, meanwhile, follow RFIs. Using the data obtained from RFIs, corporations construct RFPs that detail exactly what they’re on the lookout for, how much they’re planning to spend, and the way vendors will likely be chosen. In effect, RFIs help narrow the scope of RFPs to assist streamline the choice process.
Value noting? There’s also an alternative choice for those who know exactly what services or products you’re on the lookout for: Request for quote (RFQ). Unlike an RFP, which asks potential partners to submit a proposal based on their expertise and experience, an RFQ is about cost: You’re asking a particular vendor what it will cost to deliver “X” service or solution in “Y” timeframe under “Z” conditions.
Realizing Best Results for Your RFP
Your RFP sets the stage for corporations to bid on projects which can be outside the scope of your internal expertise — but are still critical for your corporation to succeed.
In consequence, it’s price ensuring your RFP is obvious, concise, and captures the important thing details about your needs to assist find the best-fit partner in your project. Unsure where to start out? Grab a replica of HubSpot’s free RFP template, follow the steps above, and get your projects underway.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.