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A blueprint for proposal writing that explains how to approach writing proposal paragraphs

How to write responses to RFP requirements

Here is some guidance that can help you when you sit down to write the proposal. While we've broken it down so that someone could follow it sentence by sentence, the goal is really just to enable people to write better proposals by giving them something to check their paragraphs against. If you are stuck regarding how to approach proposal writing, this can help.

See also:
Great Proposals

A structured approach to writing introduction paragraphs

When you sit down to write, before you start summarizing ask yourself, “What makes my offering different, and how is that better?” Then drop the summary and focus on making your introduction about how your differentiation will produce better results for the customer. Compose your paragraph like this:

  • The point you want to make set up as something the customer will get
  • This should be followed by points about your differentiators, set up as things that will make what the customer gets better
  • An optional competitive ghost, saying what bad things might result if things aren’t done this way and intentionally targeting competitors who don’t meet your standards

If possible, organize what follows your introduction around your differentiators. If what follows must follow an RFP-mandated outline, then map your differentiators to that outline and differentiate how you comply with the RFP requirements.

Keep in mind that what the customer gets should address all of their concerns, from how to complete their evaluation, will they actually get what you’ve promised, and how will it impact their future, to the unwritten requirements that didn’t make it into the RFP. Also keep in mind that strengths, while good to have, are not differentiators

Writing responses to RFP requirements

When you sit down to write, before addressing the RFP requirements ask yourself, “What point do I need to make here?” Then ask yourself, “What does the customer need to see here to perform their evaluation?” Also ask yourself, “What might the customer be concerned about?” Then address the RFP requirements in a way that is easy to evaluate and achieves compliance, while making your points and addressing the customer’s concerns. Try this model for paragraph construction:

  • An insightful point you want to make about why your approach matters and what it will achieve.
  • This should be followed by sentences that show insight into achieving the goal of the requirements, using the RFP’s key words, and addressing the customer’s potential concerns in a way that turns them into advantages of your approach. Each of these sentences should have two parts:
  1. What you will do or deliver
  2. Why you will do it that way
  • Make sure that you follow the RFP instructions and optimize what you say to achieve the highest score against the evaluation criteria while responding to the requirements.
  • Note that why you do things is sometimes more important than what you will do.

Use lots of tables, text boxes, and graphics

Wherever possible create tables, use text boxes, and incorporate graphics. Use them to reduce the writing while improving communications. Try to move all details into table, lists into text boxes, and procedures, relationships, and metaphors into graphics. This will enable you to focus the text on telling your story about how your differentiators will produce better outcomes.

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