RFP Response (Part 2) - Creating a Winning Proposal


After a careful assessment of the RFP ­– the fit, your chances of winning, and skillset requirements – you decide to respond. The next step is creating a winning proposal that demonstrates your organization’s ability to meet the RFP requirements.

This decision model guides organizations through the following steps:

  1. Understand why your team thinks you should respond to the RFP
  2. Determine which past engagements best demonstrate your capabilities
  3. Assess the degree to which each requirement in the RFP can be met
  4. Identify what further information is needed from the buyer
  5. Identify and select the most creative approach to respond to the requirements


This model is intended for sales managers, project managers, proposal managers, and capture managers of organizations responding to RFPs.


Many organizations fear responding to RFPs because of low success rates and high amount of effort required. The common RFP win rate for most of the organizations is less than 5% (Shankar, 2017), which can be partly attributed to poorly-written proposals. When there is a good fit between the RFP and your organization and you have the competitive capabilities to win the project, a concise, tailored, and realistic response will land you that bid (“5 Tips”, n.d.).

An effective RFP response demonstrates precision, knowledge, and expertise of the subject, while convincing the buyer of your credentials that make you the best-suited company for the project (Rodriguez, n.d.). Before you start creating your proposal, it is important to understand why your team thinks you should respond to the RFP. This lays the foundation to your approach to the RFP requirements and helps you evaluate your RFP response process once you have a decision from the buyer.

Understanding the requirements and seeking timely clarification from the buyer are key to assessing how well your offering can meet their needs. Identifying past engagements where you worked on projects with similar scope and complexity add credibility to your proposal. Creating a long-term solution that provides value to the buyer paves way for a long-term partnership.


Why should you respond to this RFP?

  1. NOODLE: What are the clear and specific reasons you should respond to this RFP? Think about the benefits to your organization, your team, and individual team members.
  2. COMBINE to eliminate similar and duplicate ideas.
  3. DISCUSS RESULTS and review alignment.

Similar Past Engagements:

  1. NOODLE: Which of your similar past engagements would the buyer be most interested in?
  2. COMBINE to eliminate similar and duplicate ideas.
  3. VOTE for each engagement that you agree should be showcased in your proposal.
  4. DISCUSS RESULTS and review alignment.

How well can you meet the RFP requirements?

     1. RATE how well you can meet each RFP requirement.

  • 0 = We cannot meet this requirement
  • 1 = We can only meet this requirement with exceptions
  • 2 = We will be able to meet this requirement in the future
  • 3 = We already meet this requirement
  • 4 = We exceed this requirement

     2. DISCUSS RESULTS and re view alignment.

What further information do you need from the buyer?

     1. NOODLE/TAG: Identify any further information you need from the buyer. Categorize using the following tags:


       2. COMBINE to eliminate similar and duplicate ideas.
       3. FOLLOW UP with the buyer to seek information/clarification

Creative Approaches to the Requirements:

  1. NOODLE: What creative approaches demonstrate your ability to fulfill the requirement?
  2. COMBINE to eliminate similar and duplicate ideas.
  3. VOTE for the approach you think is the most creative.
  4. DISCUSS RESULTS and review alignment.


  • A list of follow-up questions to attain further information and clarification from the buyer
  • A list of similar past engagements that demonstrate your expertise
  • Creative approaches to the requirements that make your proposal stand out
  • Clear and aligned understanding of why you are responding to this RFP
  • Shared understanding of how well you meet each of the requirements


This exercise will enable:

Quality  Create quality responses by fully understanding the requirements and identifying creative approaches to fulfil them.

Efficiency – Identify additional information you require from the buyer early in your response process, to avoid surprises in the future.

Engagement – Enable the relevant, and necessary stakeholders to aid in developing a winning proposal with their expertise.

Agility  Quickly identify which requirements can be met in the future (with a product upgrade or new feature release) to develop a realistic solution timeline.


5 Tips for effectively responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs). (n.d.). Loopio. https://www.loopio.com/blog/5-tips-effectively-responding-rfps

Rodriguez, J. (n.d.). How to answer a Request for Proposal (RFP) effectively. The Balance. https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-answer-a-request-for-proposal-rfp-effectively-844918

Shankar, G. (2016, October 28). 3 key metrics that will help you rock your RFP process. RFPIO. https://www.rfpio.com/blog/rfp-process-metrics/