Strategies to successful RFP kick off calls

Implementing a structured plan in your kick off calls will keep everyone focused, and bring more valuable discussions.

Strategies to successful RFP kick off calls

A new RFP has landed on your desk. After some deliberation with your business development team on whether or not to bid, it’s a go! Depending on your sector or industry, RFP kick off calls may take a different structure, from the people involved, to the time spent discussing strategy, but there are always several key items that should be completed on the preliminary RFP call.

  1. Read the RFP. Be sure to read the entire RFP front to back prior to the call, familiarize yourself with the client’s needs, objectives, any challenges they’re facing, the existing service or product, and last but certainly not least, the key dates – everything from the questions deadline, to final submission. The business development team should also do this prior to the call!
  2. Discuss win themes. Ask the business development team to identify the key win themes. If they’ve done their homework on the client, this should be easy. What is the essence of your value proposition compared to your competition? Why is your product or service superior? How can this be expressed in the proposal? All of these important questions (and more!) are imperative to the writing process, as it helps the writer understand, and articulate it in the response.
  3. Determine clarification questions. In collaboration with the business development team, determine if there are any questions for clarification that need to go back to the prospect. It’s always better to ask than to assume! Collect these questions, and fire them away.
  4. Identify sections that require support. The writer should identify any sections the business development team is responsible for completing. Typically, this includes pricing, client references, and any questions the writer cannot respond to…but depending on your product or service, as well as your internal RFP process, there may be more, or less. To ensure these sections are completed, the writer should request an internal deadline for completion. It’s also a good idea to follow-up during this process!
  5. Establish availability. Confirm your business development team’s availability over the course of the proposal timeline. We as writers know that sales people are doing more than just assisting with proposals! They are prospecting new clients, keeping in touch with existing ones, attending conferences, and much more than what we are privy to. Also be aware of any planned vacations, or other potential absences. This helps the writer, as well as the sales people, anticipate availability and timelines for proposal completion.
  6. Conclude and confirm next steps. Wrap up your meeting by summarizing next steps – what are they? People like to know what to anticipate, and this helps secure trust and validity within the entire team working on the response. Some of these steps may include:
  • Who will submit questions for clarification to the client?
  • When will the first draft be distributed for review?
  • Who will provide revisions to the writer, and the turnaround time for this?
  • Date of the next meeting (if applicable)?

By implementing these steps, the RFP process begins with enthusiasm and positivity, helps the writer and business development team manage each other’s expectations, and brings you one step closer to sealing your next most coveted client!