Effective RFP Response
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An RFP response can be a challenging task, but a worthwhile investment of time
Request for Proposals (RFPs) are an important part of a law practice’s business and formulating the response to one requires information that is thoughtful, well-researched, and timely. RFPs are very specific in outlining what services are required and what the client’s needs are, requiring an individual approach to each request received.
Your firm is often required to provide a range of information, including documentation and examples of experience, as well as responses to specific questions tailored to that project. The client wants specific information in simple terms – gone are the days of copying and pasting from one response to another. The various moving parts of putting together a winning RFP make them a time-consuming and challenging aspect of the business, but if done correctly, the results make the effort worthwhile.
The right response to RFPs
Take a close look: The first step of the process is to evaluate the RFP critically. Gauge the appropriateness before deciding to respond – don’t automatically reply to each request. In order to make it worth the cost of your time, you must be selective about which RFPs you respond to, which requires more than a cursory glance.
Check to see what the issuer needs, determine their intent, and assess what their priority is; are they primarily concerned with consolidation, service, pricing, or counsel change? Also, research the buyer’s trend in procurement to make sure they aren’t issuing RFPs without granting new rewards.
Assemble the right team: Involve your marketing and business development professionals as part of your proposal team. Having a highly effective team has a huge impact on your overall success; include a proposal writer, business development, strategy and pricing personnel, and the lead attorney. If it’s a labor-intensive RFP, you might want to have more than one attorney involved.
If you are the lead for the response, you will be responsible for key decisions and should be listed as the person who will do the work if the RFP requests that information. Make sure everyone involved understands their role and are prepared to contribute.
Check for conflicts: This may seem obvious, but the timing of this step is crucial. Assess the potential of any conflicts before letting the issuer know you intend to respond or accepting. You wouldn’t want to invest the time and concern for a job you cannot do.
Decide to respond: Once you’ve evaluated your team and the response, you need to determine if you’re going to pass on the RFP or submit a formal response. Start with the following:
- Research if you’ve done business with this issue in the past, or if you currently have a business relationship.
- Find out if you have professional relationships with specific people who work within the organization.
- Confirm that you are experienced and knowledgeable in the required services issued in the request.
The RFP is most likely a good prospect if all the above can be answered in the affirmative. If you’re missing an element, re-evaluate your strength in one of the other two before proceeding.
Attorney involvement: Although the proposal writer, marketing and business development team members can help with details such as formatting, verbiage, and research, the attorney needs to be hands-on when it comes to strategy and insight in a way that demonstrates expertise and experience. Read and respond carefully.
State your offerings: Following directions, including well-researched information, and defining your strategy are the foundational steps of an effective RFP response. Make sure you clearly state what service you’re offering, how you will deliver that, why your firm best benefits the client, evidence of past success, and an estimate of cost. Covering all those bases will help you stand out as the optimal choice.
Reviewing RFP submissions can be as cumbersome as preparing them; poorly prepared responses stand out as taking up valuable time and are quickly cast aside. Ultimately, that’s a waste of time and energy for both sides involved.
Create a well-structured and clearly-defined RFP response process, pay close attention to the buyer’s needs, and collaborate with your team members based on their innate talents to produce a response that puts you in a league of your own, while helping you win more RFPs and guaranteeing a better return on your investment of time.
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