RFP Response Guide

Business Consulting
RFP Response Guide
Article by Zarah Ariola
Last Updated: November 08, 2023

By creating an impactful proposal that showcases your company's value and the work you could do for your clients, you are already making the client's life easier. This supports your ultimate goal of outsourcing a project.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to write the perfect RFP response that will help you secure more clients.

What Is an RFP Response?

An RFP response is a service vendor’s answer to the questions the prospective buyer – a company looking to procure services or solutions – has posed in the RFP document.

A compelling answer and a set of arguments in the RFP response are necessary to persuade the procuring company that a vendor has the means and knowledge to fill in the gap and provide the required services. After evaluating all accepted RFP proposals, procurement can then decide on the selected service provider.

An RFP response is a standard part of replying to:

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

Five Steps on How To Write an RFP Response

Follow these steps to draft a winning RFP proposal response:

Step #1: Read the RFP Thoroughly

The first step when writing an RFP response is to read the RFP thoroughly and make sure you understand all the requirements. Take note of any specific instructions, deadlines, and evaluation criteria listed in the RFP.

This ensures that your response addresses all the client's needs and is compliant with their guidelines. Moreover, it also helps you determine if your company has the necessary expertise, resources, and capabilities to deliver the solution requested in the RFP.

Step #2: Analyze the Opportunity

After you have read through the RFP document and identified the project requirements, analyze the opportunity to develop an effective response strategy. Start by researching background information about the client and project. This can include anything from understanding their industry, current goals and objectives, customer base, or specific needs that need to be addressed.

Review any related documents such as case studies or reports that may provide further insight into how your organization could best meet their needs. After gathering this data, create a comprehensive report which outlines all your findings and use this as a basis for developing your response strategy.

Step #3: Brainstorm Solutions

Consider alternate approaches when crafting a response strategy to give yourself more options during negotiation stages if necessary. Brainstorm potential solutions that would address each requirement outlined in the RFP document. This is your chance to start thinking outside of the box and get creative.

Your goal is to think through as many ideas as possible to develop a comprehensive plan that meets all the RFP document’s criteria. Consider both practical and innovative approaches when brainstorming solutions and make sure they align with what you believe would benefit your organization, but also what could best satisfy the client’s requirements.

Step #4: Structure the Response

This step involves organizing your content under key headings that reflect the requirements listed in the RFP document. The order of these sections should correspond with how they appear in the original document so that each section is easily identifiable, and readers can quickly access any data. Make sure to include all essential information requests such as budgeting, timeline, or project milestones within each heading for easy reference during the review stages.

Ensure your proposal is visually appealing by using graphics or tables where appropriate. This will help draw attention to important points while also making it easier for reviewers to understand complex topics quickly without having to read through large chunks of text.

Be mindful of grammar and spelling errors which can give off an unprofessional impression and ultimately reflect badly on your organization’s capabilities. Moreover, all components should be consistent, including fonts, colors, and layout, to maintain a professional appearance.

Step #5: Finalize the Response

Review your response for any errors or inconsistencies that may need to be addressed before submission. Begin by re-reading each section and double-checking for typos, grammatical mistakes, or any other issues that could lead to a negative impression.

Try including callbacks throughout the entire document which reference relevant parts of the RFP document. This will help demonstrate that you understand their needs and can provide an ideal solution in accordance with what was outlined in the original request.

Once all necessary revisions have been made, consider having someone else who wasn’t involved in developing your proposal review it one final time. It’s always a good idea to hear an unbiased opinion on how well it meets all criteria listed within the RFP document. This will also give them an opportunity to point out any areas where you can make further improvements.

Get connected with the right agency for your project.

Understanding the RFP Response Process

Now that we have gone through the essentials, let’s address the finer points of writing an RFP response. In order to understand how to create the best response to an RFP, you need to first understand the entire RFP process.

Before you even get involved, a company creates a request for proposal outlining the project, budget, objectives and the information they would like to see in responses, then sends it out to various vendors and contractors.

Agencies interested in working on the project will then create a personalized proposal, specific to the potential client, project and requested information and submit that response by the due date.

Companies will then review the proposals, narrow down the candidates, shortlist the best proposals, and begin engaging with possible agencies to see if they will be a strong fit for the project at hand. This is also the time when the shortlisted responders can ask additional questions to hone their proposed strategy further.

If you've made it to this stage, be mindful of the questions you ask your prospective clients, as this is still a crucial aspect of the selection process. Just like any job interview, companies will judge you based on your questions — and you don’t want to come to the table unprepared. If you ask the right questions, you can further demonstrate your skills and professional perception.

Prepare like you would for a standard job interview. Outline several specific and general questions that the company will use to get a better understanding of who you are and what you’re capable of. These will also help you better understand the scope of the project and what the clients are looking for.

After discussing the project and proposal, the shortlisted candidate will likely be asked to check their proposal and send a final version, upon which the company will select the bidder that they think is the best fit.

How Long Does The RFP Proposal Selection Take?

The selection process can take anywhere from days or weeks to months. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set amount of time for companies to choose a final proposal, so waiting for the results can be a tedious task.

It’s safe to say that a smaller, agile business with a problem that needs a fast solution will be quicker to select an RFP winner.

However, large corporations and enterprises are much harder to pin down because there are usually a lot of people who have to come to a mutual decision. Then, each decision needs to be checked off by several professionals at a variety of levels.

Most requests for proposals will include general due dates for submissions and that may also include dates by which the client will reach out to continue the conversation if they so choose. This information can help give you a general timeline.

How Can You Start Receiving Requests For Proposals?

There are several ways to land RFPs.

The first step (and the most convenient one) is to already be shortlisted so that companies sending RFPs can find you. However, this is often contingent on already-existing brand identity and great reputation, which many new agencies may not have just yet.

You can also find B2B Marketplaces like DesignRush and join their lists. For instance, companies listed at the top of our category rankings receive over 30 requests for proposals each month from various businesses with budgets ranging from $25k to over $250k.

Finally, you can start receiving RFPs by networking and meeting new potential clients. The more businesses know your name, skill set and your availability for new work, the more likely they will be to send an RFP your way.

Ten Key Elements of an RFP Response

To be effective, an RFP response should include:

  1. Cover Page
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Executive Summary
  4. Agency Overview
  5. Client Overview
  6. Project Ideas
  7. Case Studies
  8. Timelines & Milestones
  9. Project Price
  10. Appendix

1. Cover Page

Your request-for-proposal response should begin with a well-designed cover page. We’re visual creatures, after all. Plus, companies will be inundated with these responses, and you want yours to stand out.

Include their logo, as well as your own, to initiate the idea that this response is specifically crafted for them. Utilize a pleasing design, layout, and color scheme to appeal to the company and separate yourself from the competition.

Finally, ensure the information is relevant and that you refer to the company correctly. Take note of unique capitalization or spacing in creative company names.

2. Table of Contents

A clear table of contents makes it easier for companies to review specific parts of your proposal, like experience, tactics, and price.

They won’t have to scroll through all the document pages to find what they're looking for. By eliminating this pain point, you'll make their overall experience with your agency a pleasant one, creating a great emotional association with you and making your proposal stand out in their minds.

3. Executive Summary

This is the place for you to sum up the client’s requirements. Using short, precise answers will really show that you fully understand what they need and can offer it to them without wasting too much time.

Remember, the executive summary is a quick reminder about the project parameters, not the RFP regurgitated. Demonstrate that you understand exactly what the company wants in a proposal and a project.

Feel free to touch on the client's brand identity or include their logo again for an additional layer of detail.

4. Agency Overview

Take three or four slides to talk about your agency. This will allow the potential client to get a better idea of your team, expertise, and company culture without dominating the proposal. Within your agency overview, you can also discuss why you will be a strong fit. Make sure you don’t miss out on the following points:

  • Talk about who you are
  • Mention what makes you different
  • Provide insights and examples of your work, including awards, portfolio links, and more
  • Outline the team structure
  • Highlight your agency's area of expertise that aligns with their specific needs

5. Client Overview

You should include a client overview section to prove you understand their business model and can identify their pains and weaknesses that could use improvement. However, a potential client is already very familiar with their company, so don't just reiterate their “About Us” page.

The slide(s) should contain:

  • The client’s business model analysis
  • The client’s target audience
  • Their key differences in the market and their unique selling proposition

6. Project Ideas

The most important part of the proposal is the specific strategy you have in mind to solve the client's problem. Prospective clients are looking for actionable creative campaign ideas rooted in research. Don't just put together some basic research or simple definitions and call it a strategy, as they can find that information themselves.

Businesses searching for an agency partner want the how. How will you increase traffic, encourage consumers to convert, or create a smoother eCommerce platform? Design mock creatives, provide real ideas, and prove that you can do more than utilize analytics and research databases.

In fact, clients will base most of their hiring decision on the ideas you can come up with. Your strategies will set you up for success, but your ingenuity has the power to wow clients and set you a league above your competitors.

7. Case Studies

Case studies show how you solve problems and surpass challenges and are an effective way to showcase your skill and expertise. Data doesn’t lie, and with carefully prepared case studies, you can show how you’ve helped transform other businesses and strategies in the past.

If you’re a B2C business, then you should create a brand that will play on customers’ experiences and emotions. But, B2B business models revolve around results, and there’s no better way to display them than a case study. In both cases, make sure you provide all the details, including the creatives you used and the tactics employed.

8. Timelines & Milestones

The better you segment your activities and explain your journey towards reaching the client goal, the more successful your RFP proposal response will be. Make sure to formulate these with precision, because you don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver.

Add a clear timeline: what will the deliverable consist of, and when will you submit it? Clients that send out RFPs understand that some tasks take time, but they'll also award the project to an agency that has the tools, resources, and manpower available to finish it in a timely manner.

Be realistic about your capabilities. The more you leave to the imagination, the more questions a company may have and the harder it will be to land the project and hit your deadlines and markers if you do.

9. Project Price

Determining your projected fees may be the most difficult part of your proposal. Agencies must determine a price that will make it worth their while to take on a project without nickel-and-diming a client and must consider a lot of different costs that can add up.

However, you also need to price yourself competitively. Companies almost never disclose their total departmental budget, and you can easily quote something that is well above their means. Conversely, agencies can easily quote too low.

Pay special attention to developing your cost. Calculate it well and fairly. Don’t sell yourself short but don’t overshoot it. You have to be critical and deliberate to ensure you provide a figure in their sweet spot.

10. Appendix

The appendix is the perfect place to offer further explanations of various terms and processes. Tie up loose ends, provide further context and clarity, define any terms you used throughout the proposal, and close your proposal on a powerful and impactful note.

How To Improve Your RFP Response

The most effective RFP responses open opportunities for future collaboration and empower you to define the project's tiniest details. Here are some ways you can draft a winning RFP proposal response.

  • Don’t give out all the details: Although you are trying to gain a client and you naturally want to impress them, you shouldn't give them all the answers enough for them to do it all themselves. Show results backed by case studies and craft example campaigns and creatives, but feel free to hold a few details to yourself.
  • Answer questions and provide insights: The best way to surpass the competition is to provide answers to questions the client didn’t even know they had. This builds your authority and shows that you’re truly grasping all aspects of their organization, business objectives and the bigger picture.
  • Identify possible problems and create contingency plans: Make sure to pay extra attention to the delivery issues, unrealistic expectations and items that will require additional outsourcing. Cross-reference the client’s information in their RFP. If you find inconsistencies or unclear assignments, add them to the list of questions that you will submit during the RFP Q&A.
  • Create a template: You need to create a well-written and researched template that will let you automate the RFP response process. You don’t need to write new responses all over again for the parts that don’t change, but you need to make sure there is room for growth and flexibility.

Benefits of Writing a Good Response to RFP

Outside of potentially getting an influx of work, there’s a lot you can gain from stellar RFP response writing skills.

  1. Future Employment Potential
  2. Improved Negotiation Skills
  3. Creating a Streamlined Process
  4. Continued Experience & Continued Learning
  5. Curating Your Offer

1. Future Employment Potential

Apart from landing the client for a project in the short term, if all goes well, one RFP win can bring you a lot of work in the future. Companies will often test contractors by offering them smaller jobs at first in order to cut possible losses if they aren’t happy with the results.

Therefore, securing a project and executing it well is a great way to secure repeat business and maybe even a life-long client. Think of it this way — it’s way easier to expand an existing contract than to go through the process of sending out new proposals and reviewing additional bids.

A great RFP gets your foot in the door and opens up a world of possibilities going forward.

2. Improved Negotiation Skills

Negotiation skills are one of the most valuable skill sets to have when discussing a potential business relationship. And the more you do it, the better you’ll become.

There’s no better way to learn more about how clients think in a specific niche or industry than by going through a couple of RFP negotiations. Even if you aren’t successful at first, you’re gathering knowledge and experience for later.

3. Creating a Streamlined Process

Crafting a couple of responses will make the process easier over time. For example, your first RFP response might take you days, but the fifth will just take a portion of your time.

Although you can’t really streamline the research and information exploration you’re conducting, you’ll know where to look next time.

4. Continued Experience & Continued Learning

You can’t win every RFP, but you can learn from each one. You can even ask the companies for their honest feedback so that you can work on your response going forward.

Then, slowly but surely, you’ll learn to recognize what’s important to potential clients and what to focus on when crafting your next RFP response.

5. Curating Your Offer

As you complete RFP responses, you'll discover how to present your value in the best possible way.

Perhaps you have to change your overall offer and make it more appealing to clients. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your business model, just your presentation.

Once you get into the swing of things, you’ll learn to craft proposals that will demonstrate your skills and knowledge, which is an important step to winning a bid.

Nine RFP Response Best Practices

Keep these practices top of mind when writing an RFP response:

  1. Add Some Pricing Wiggle Room
  2. Don’t Give Clients All the Details
  3. Answer Questions & Provide Insights
  4. Identify Possible Problems
  5. Create a Template
  6. Don’t Make Small Errors
  7. Don’t Insult the Client
  8. Don’t Generalize
  9. Keep the Conversation Going

1. Add Some Pricing Wiggle Room

instead of quoting your best and lowest price, leave some room for negotiation. It’s better to let them think they can get you to give in a bit than to be uncompromising.

2. Don’t Give Clients All the Details

You’re landing a client (or not) based solely on your strategic plan and price. You want to impress them, but you don’t want to give them all the answers so that they can do it all themselves.

Show results backed by case studies and craft example campaigns and creatives, but feel free to hold a few details to yourself.

3. Answer Questions & Provide Insights

The best way to surpass the competition is to provide answers to the client for the questions they didn’t even know they had. This builds your authority and shows that you’re truly grasping all aspects of their organization, business objectives, and the bigger picture.

4. Identify Possible Problems

Make sure to pay extra attention to delivery issues, unrealistic expectations, and items that will require additional outsourcing.

Cross-reference the client’s information in their RFP. If you find inconsistencies or unclear assignments, add them to the list of questions that you will submit during the RFP Q&A.

5. Create a Template

You need to create a well-written and researched template that will let you automate the RFP response process. You don’t need to write new responses all over again for the parts that don’t change, but you need to make sure there is room for growth and flexibility.

6. Don’t Make Small Errors

Take your time to craft just the right proposal response. Don’t rush it. Each RFP response should be personalized and custom-tailored to land business.

Pay attention to details. Use the right name, keep capitalization consistent, ensure there are no spelling or grammar mistakes, and format the document correctly. Essentially, just take the time to make sure everything looks great so that you don’t give off a disheveled professional work ethic.

7. Don’t Insult the Client

Clients sending RFPs are professionals, so try not to insult their intelligence. You don’t need to explain the basic terms and items, as it will look unprofessional on your part if you do. If you want to add explanations or definitions, don't waste time on the actual slides. Simply add that information to the appendix instead.

8. Don’t Generalize

Make sure your answers are poignant, concise, and essential. Aim for short, simple, and sweet copy. Don’t bore potential clients before you can intrigue them.

Every agency will try to sway a client’s attention by claiming they’re the best for the job, but it's your job to prove that you're the best. Knowledge, expertise, and a clear action plan are the only things that separate you from your competitors.

9. Keep the Conversation Going

Ensure you decide on a point person who will handle sending the proposal and facilitate any further communication, calls, and meetings. This will minimize confusion and ensure your proposal doesn’t get lost in transit.

How To Formulate Different Responses for Different Proposals

Depending on the type of project, you can formulate your response accordingly. For instance:


When you’re offering your digital marketing services to a client, focus on hard data from your previous campaigns. What exactly did you do for your clients, and how did you achieve those results?

In-depth case studies can easily be created, especially with access to social media campaign results, Google Analytics, and other tools. Use these to your advantage.

Web Design

Focus on your portfolio. If you’re prompted to send an RFP proposal response for a web design job, it’s best to let the links and pictures do the talking — especially if you have examples of the solutions you created for previous clients that are in the same objective or industry as the RFP sender.

When you send a web design RFP response, make sure you clearly show that you understand the client’s needs first and foremost. Web design RFP responses are amongst the hardest ones to land because clients often aren’t sure what they want.

Content Creation

It’s easy to draft an RFP response for content strategizing and writing jobs. You don’t really need visual examples, although as we already stated, people are visual and will respond well to good aesthetics.

Ultimately, your writing style and ability to adapt it to your client’s needs will be the determining factor in securing a project like this. Good content has to convey a client’s exact sentiment and brand message. With a well-written and customized RFP, you’re already well on your way to showcasing your skills.

SEO & Website Optimization

This is also an area that depends heavily on concrete results. SEO and website optimization are very data-driven. Showcase that information, what you can do for the client, and how you plan to execute your tactics.

Many clients don’t really understand how SEO optimization works from a technical standpoint, so it’s important to display tactics and ideas that will bring them success in a way that’s easy for them to absorb. Have some fun, but make sure you’re providing valuable insights.

Top Agencies That Can Provide a Positive RFP Response

Some of the best business consulting agencies that are sure to respond positively to RFP are:

  1. Daniel James Consulting
  2. Digitalis Medical
  3. Anderson Collaborative
  4. ZalaTech
  5. NewAgeSMB
  6. DDS Web Solutions
  7. Big Red Jelly
  8. Enkonix

1. Daniel James Consulting

  • Location: 2125 Albany Post Road, Montrose, New York 10548, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $125/hr
  • Expertise: Branding, Logo Design, SEO, PPC...

Daniel James Consulting provides extensive business consulting services and interconnected deliverables tailor-made to individual needs, goals, companies and industries, coupled with their extensive knowledge of digital technologies and successful implantation of brand development and marketing elements.

The award-winning agency with a client retention of over seven years has serviced over 200 companies. They tailor customized packages for any business or present an a la carte solutions menu developed to decrease turnaround time while increasing deliverables with measurable goals.

2. Digitalis Medical

  • Location: 10869 N Scottsdale Rd, Suite 103-573, Scottsdale, Arizona 85254, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: Healthcare Website Design, SEO, Healthcare SEO...

Digitalis brings consistent website traffic to healthcare facilities to increase revenue and save money on advertising. Through the Digitalis Growth System, clients experience more online visibility, more new patients and greater trust from patients.

The company has been recognized as Best SEO Web Design Agency in Arizona 2019 - Media Innovator Awards by CV Magazine.

3. Anderson Collaborative

  • Location: 4000 Ponce de Leon Blvd Suite 470, Miami, Florida 33146, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: Influencer Marketing, Digital Marketing, Graphic Design, Website Development...

Anderson Collaborative has led high-level marketing strategy for hundreds of businesses both small and large. The employees, specialists, contractors, and partners work together to ensure that they are delivering their company promise and trusted results to clients spanning across countless industries.

Anderson Collaborative takes pride in its "dream-big" team solving the marketing problems of today with the strategies of tomorrow. Their uniquely comprehensive approach to digital strategy is helping clients across the United States find success in their marketing and promotional efforts.

4. ZalaTech

  • Location: Tropical Mall, Airport Street, Addis Ababa, 2310, Ethiopia
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: Web Design, Software Development

ZalaTech has introduced all its website, ERP and SaaS services to be in tune with the latest updates and development in the world of technology, together with meeting the expectations of our prestigious Ethiopian and foreign customers.

They offer a wide range of IT solutions like ERP, software, and website services that help organizations improve their operational efficiency while keeping their budget in place. Their products are tried and tested, now with budget-friendly ERP and software options. 

Clients include World Bank, Ethiojobs, Boortmalt, and GIZ.

5. NewAgeSMB

  • Location: 4390 US-1, Suite 110, Princeton, New Jersey 08540, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $25
  • Expertise: Website Development, Software Development, Mobile App Development, Web Design

NewAgeSMB, a division of NewAgeSys, Inc. was established in 1994. They are based in New Jersey and specialize in mobile app development and consulting, helping clients maximize the reach and effectiveness of their business.

They are a full-stack iOS, Android, and web development company with more than 28 years of expertise in mobile app development. Their team is composed of highly energetic mobile strategists, UI/UX designers, and app developers with a client base spread across the US.

6. DDS Web Solutions

  • Location: Sierra College Blvd, Roseville, Sacramento, California 95661, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $50
  • Expertise: Branding, Reputation Management, Website Development, Digital Strategy...

DDS Web Solutions is a full-service marketing agency specializing in the dental industry. In addition to a website that converts more visitors into patients, they manage clients' social media, run targeted online advertisements, create beautiful print marketing pieces, and much more.

They tailor dental marketing services to each practice and evaluate performance based on patient experiences and marketing innovation.

7. Big Red Jelly

  • Location: 2545 N Canyon Rd Suite 210, Provo, Utah 84604, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $125
  • Expertise: Small Business Website Design, Responsive Website Design, Shopify, WordPress Website Design...

Big Red Jelly provides digital solutions for businesses looking to expand and upgrade their online image and presence. Digital is what Big Red Jelly does best. This agency is the most efficient option, saving you time and money.

Big Red Jelly creates digital foundations that are built on marketing fundamentals, not individual tactics. They work with you to understand your business and audience and then customize a solution that best fits your needs. The blend of creativity and measurable results differentiate Big Red Jelly from other agencies.

8. Enkonix

  • Location: E-15, 1st Floor, Yadupati Bastion, Opposite Asopa Hospital, Ajmer Road Jaipur
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire.
  • Expertise: Web Development, Fantasy Sports Development, eCommerce Development, Classified Website Development, Mobile App Development, Doctor Appointment App Development, and Taxi App Development

Enkonix is a consulting organization that connects strategy, design, and engineering services into a seamless workflow devised to support clients every step of the way. The team is passionate about creating valuable products and helping other businesses climb the ladder of technological development.

They have designed and built a diverse range of high-quality products from scratch. Their specialists have expertise in a wide variety of spheres including e-learning, healthcare, eCommerce, advertising, augmented reality, finance, sharing economy, and many more.

RFP Response Takeaways

If you put in the necessary time, research, and effort into drawing an effective RFP response, it can provide major gains for you and your company. To write the most effective proposal, read the request for proposal carefully, then set up a dazzling and intricate response that will stand out from the competitors.

RFP Response FAQs

1. What does a good RFP response look like?

A good RFP response should be well-structured, comprehensive, and demonstrate how your company can meet the client's requirements.

2. What should you not do when responding to an RFP?

When responding to an RFP, don’t ignore or miss any requirements. Try not to submit a generic response or make unrealistic promises. Don’t be vague and unclear as this may confuse and mislead the client.


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