3 Do’s and Don’ts for RFP Responses

How to streamline your RFP response process, so that you can respond more efficiently and gain more business.

As a child, did you ever play the game where you guessed how many candies were in a jar? Usually, there were two ways to guess: blindly write down a number that seemed close or make a somewhat educated guess by counting or multiplying. In the end, it was just a guessing game. RFP responses can feel the same.

Nailing down eye-catching RFP responses can be very similar. Only the owner knows the exact answer. There are multiple companies competing. You can’t ask many questions and there is always a deadline. It’s intense. But just like in the candy guessing game, the key isn’t to guess the exact number. The winner is the person who can guess the closest approximate answer. Knowing that relieves a lot of stress.

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In my previous blog, I mentioned how to write effective proposals by understanding client needs, having a quick turnaround time, and using templates. However, RFP responses are a completely different playbook. I’ll explain in a minute. A proposal is not an RFP, and an RFP is not a proposal.

Getting started with RFP’s

First, try to understand why the company put an RFP out there. Look for these things in the RFP:

  • Is there a picture of the anticipated result? Look at it closely, even if it is vague.
  • Does the deadline fit within your team’s schedule?
  • Is there a budget mentioned?
  • Does your team meet the requirements listed?

Over the years we have been effectively responding to RFPs for various issuers and clients. Through the process, we have learned that it is a dance you have to learn, in order to understand the style and match your steps to the variations of each client.

RFP responses can take up lot of your time. So to help you quickly assess and effectively respond to an RFP, I’ve provided some Do’s and Don’ts for the process:


1. Read the RFP Instructions

By reading how the potential client is writing, you can pick up on their tone and style of communicating. For example, do they use bullet points or write lengthy requirements? Be sure to mention how you stand out from the competition both in pricing and quality of work. Remember, this is your job interview. Be sure to provide samples of work that are similar to the project you are trying to get.

Understand what they are looking for in a project partner. Then write, edit, review, and repeat. Read their RFP document. Then write, edit, review, and repeat. You can see why this takes a long time.

2. Answer Questions Directly

If there is a requirement for their project, they want to know whether you can handle it. Make sure your response is legible and understandable to anyone who reads it. If you are not direct, you can forget that RFP. It also won’t cut it for you to write on a high-level that sounds positive, but isn’t specific (see the example below).


3. Make a Checklist

Once you have everything in place, cross reference it against your RFP checklist. Be sure you have all the supporting documents ready. It is very important to read the guidelines and documents closely so that your team thoroughly understands the company’s values and expectations.


1. Don’t Use Templated Answers

Do it because it is relevant, not because it sounds good. Proofread your document rigorously. You are under the microscope here. RFPs can not be reused. Don’t write just to fill space.

2. Don’t Rush

No matter when you send out the response it will be opened along with the others on the due date. Don’t submit your response until you have everything in order. If the RFP desires a printed response, make sure that all the pages are correctly printed, and the text and images are aligned. Do not hurry in sending out a response that is sloppy.

3. Don’t Submit an Incomplete or Out of Order Response

Most RFPs request a desired format. A vendor who doesn’t follow the format is quickly disqualified. Don’t skip on the requirements. Review all the details and answer each one of them in the manner requested. Don’t miss out on any additional documents.


Writing an effective response to RFPs can be really tricky and requires a lot of patience and discernment. The issuers usually don’t have all the requirements sorted out and that’s ok. Remember: The goal is to get as close to the target as possible.

Don’t like writing detailed RFP responses? Rubico offers Proposals as a Service. To learn more, contact us at solutions@RubicoTech.com.

We create complex web and mobile applications. We bring together expert Indian developers – ranked among the top in their field – and India-based, American relationship managers, who provide stateside context for client’s needs and expectations. This combination creates a new kind of contracted development that doesn’t trade quality for cost.