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An RFP Showstopper - Stop assuming! It’s causing you to lose bids!

Updated: Dec 22, 2019

When we respond to RFP’s, we make a lot of incorrect assumptions about the reviewers on the other end. This may not be conscious, because we are so entrenched in our response and our challenges that we never stop to realize that there are real dynamic beings on the other side of the RFP. This is especially true in public sector proposals. Generally, there is more than one person evaluating a proposal, and each one comes with their own level of knowledge, expertise, patience, and interest level.

They come with their own interpretation…

Their own perspective…

Their own needs…

So how do you write an RFP to satisfy all these different people?

Listed below I’ve listed the top assumptions we make and how addressing these assumptions in your proposals will improve your success rate!

1. We assume that all reviewers are at the same knowledge level as we are – you might have one person in the room that is deeply familiar with your industry. Many others on the evaluation committee might have high level knowledge only. Assume that the reviewers don’t know what you know and write in plain language. Don’t confuse them, don’t tech speak, and make it simple for them to understand.

2. We assume that because they wrote the RFP, the sequence will feel logical to them – it’s likely that the people on the evaluation committee didn’t have any involvement in putting together the RFP, so it may be no more logical to them than it is to you. Do what you can to make it flow while adhering to the requirements of the RFP. Including a compliance matrix helps with this as well.

3. We assume that they know the ins and outs of the entire RFP – not all members of the evaluation committee care about the entirety of the RFP. Many of them may have a stake in just a small portion of the RFP. Because of this, they are likely to focus solely on the portion that is relevant to them. Make sure the sections can stand alone and don’t continuously reference other sections.

4. We assume that the information is going to be interesting to all reviewers – think about it, in some instances they are reviewing upwards of ten proposals. That’s a LOT of reading. Even three proposals are quite a bit to review. Keep the reading simple, interesting, and easy to follow and the reviewers will appreciate you!

Write your response with these things in mind, instead of focusing solely on your expertise and delivery.

Lisa Rehurek will be presenting “The Top 10 Keys to Winning the RFP Game” in Tucson on Wednesday, April 24th” To attend this free workshop, sign up here

About Lisa:

Lisa Rehurek is founder of The RFP Success Company. She is also a 7x author, speaker/trainer and podcast host who is passionate about helping organizations do better and win more

business through RFPs. You can learn more about the RFP Success Company at

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