Creating a Winning RFP

Feb 07,2023

Understanding the basics of RFPs and uncovering valuable insights based on our brand’s experience.

What is an RFP?

An RFP (request for proposal) is a document issued by companies to solicit bids from vendors or service providers for a specific project. The project requirements, including scope and budget, are outlined, and vendors are invited to present a proposal for the work. The company can then review and compare the bids to determine the best fit for the project. RFPs are helpful when a company has a large or complex project that requires outsourcing, as it allows them to evaluate potential vendors efficiently and make an informed decision.


RFPs provide insight into different strategies by giving you a preview of vendors’ unique action plans in their bids. This information is available before committing to a vendor. Note that RFPs should not be confused with RFQs (requests for quotation), which solicit price quotes from vendors to compare based on price only. RFPs include price quotes and other details such as completion timeline and deliverable schedule, while RFQs only provide the quote. An RFP is typically more appropriate than an RFQ in determining the right vendor for your company as it gives more information than just the quote.

Pro tip- UMI uses an RFQ to consult vendors to lock down the most competitive pricing.

Marketing RFPs

An RFP in marketing is used to outsource activities that can help increase a brand’s reach. This can include full-service communications and marketing plans for small startups or specific services such as SEO and social media for larger businesses. Marketing agencies should also keep an eye out for RFPs in their area related to the services they offer.

How an RFP Works

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process begins with a company drafting an RFP outlining its needs and requirements. Potential contractors and vendors receive this document, review it, and submit their top bid for the job. Proposals typically include an action plan, timeline, background information, and estimated cost for the project. In some cases, bidders may suggest changes to the RFP, which the company can choose to incorporate or not before evaluating the submitted bids. The next step will be to learn how to create a comprehensive RFP.

A Successful RFP Process

Before drafting an RFP (request for proposal), it’s important to review the scope of the project and assess your needs. Take the time to define your goals and scope of work and identify potential roadblocks against your project timeline. Use this opportunity to research competitors and industry standards to evaluate your current position. Additionally, it’s important to include technical specifications in the RFP. This allows qualified vendors to determine if they can meet your requirements and protects your business if they fail to deliver on their initial agreement.

Once the RFP is ready, publish it on your website, with professional groups, or with the local chamber of commerce. After receiving proposals, evaluate and compare them to narrow down to a top selection of vendors to evaluate further and determine the best fit for the job. Request a final offer from your top vendors during negotiation to confirm their suitability for the job.

Why use a Request for Proposal?

Many companies, whether big or small, typically have limited resources and may not have the necessary expertise to undertake a new project. In such situations, using an RFP (Request for Proposal) can provide a streamlined way for the business to acquire the expertise required to complete the project.

Things to Keep in Mind when Creating an RFP:

  • Asking only “yes” or “no” questions: A good RFP should be specific and require thoughtful answers to find the right vendor.
  • Creating questions that require vendors to explain their thought process when solving a problem, such as “Can you provide an example of how you have handled a similar problem for another company? What challenges did you face, and how would you approach it differently this time?”

The Request for Proposal (RFP) offers several benefits, including the ability to choose the best option for the best price by evaluating expertise and performance. It also allows for customization and increased innovation by leaving implementation to the appropriate parties. However, the RFP process can be lengthy and tedious, with time-consuming evaluations and negotiations. Despite this, the process ultimately leads to cost savings and innovation.

How to Write an RFP

  • Begin with a brief introduction to the project and its objectives, so vendors can determine if it aligns with their capabilities.
  • Provide a brief overview of your company and its target market to give vendors context on who they will be working with.
  • Clearly outline the goals of the project and what you consider a “win” to ensure all parties are on the same page.
  • Include a detailed project scope to prevent surprises and ensure vendors clearly understand the work required.
  • Specify a target deliverable schedule, even if deadlines aren’t tight, to help vendors gauge their resources and bandwidth for the project.
  • To assist vendors in understanding the project’s challenges, be open about technical difficulties or obstacles, such as custom coding or resource limitations.
  • Include budget constraints to eliminate surprises and ensure vendors know the project’s financial limitations.
  • Explain what you’re looking for in potential vendors, such as time, solution, budget, etc.

Fun Facts about the RFPs – by Loopio

The Advertising, Media & Telecom industry generates the largest revenue from RFPs, accounting for 46%, followed by the Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Construction & Retail industry, which accounts for 40%.

The most closely monitored RFP metrics are the number of successful bids (57%) and the number of proposals submitted (48%). Next, overall revenue and progress rates are of high concern.

Most organizations (44%) involve a team of 6-10 contributors in creating RFPs. The next largest group (25%) involves five or fewer contributors, while 20% involves 11-15 people. Only a small percentage (10%) involve 15 or more people in the RFP process.

An increased number of RFPs were submitted via an online portal, rising from 41% last year to 43%. Notably, top-performing teams submitted even more, at 49% through an online portal, suggesting that utilizing online portals for bid submissions may provide a competitive advantage.

Notably, proposals led by sales were more susceptible to being lost because of missed deadlines, with 15% of such proposals being lost in this manner. On the other hand, proposals led by an RFP manager had a 0% loss rate due to missed deadlines.

In 2022, 57% of organizations plan to submit more RFPs than in the previous year, an increase of 10% from the previous year’s predictions of 47%. This is likely due to a resurgence of business activity following the economic downturn of 2020.

Larger brands are more likely to be successful in the RFP process; learn why here.

Now what?

Creating an RFP (request for proposal) doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right approach and tools, you can easily create an RFP that effectively communicates your project’s specifics, goals, and scope to potential vendors.

Gather your team and discuss the project’s details, objectives, and timeline to get started. Also, consider the budget for the project. With this information, you can use a template to organize your thoughts and create an effective RFP quickly and efficiently. Following these simple steps, you’ll have a professional RFP to help you find the right vendor for your project.

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