You’ve received a request for proposal (RFP) from a potential new client. Congratulations! It’s always exciting when someone wants to work with you. But things aren’t quite set into stone yet. In order to secure a contract template after you submit your statement of work template, you need to figure out how to respond to an RFP.
It’s important to write a compelling response that convinces your client you’re the best consultant for their project. If you’ve never received an RFP before or have never successfully landed a contract from your response, you’re probably wondering just how to respond to the RFP to land the job.
Here’s everything you need to know about writing a great RFP response, including a sample RFP response letter that you can start from when writing your own.
Requests for proposals (or RFPs) are especially common for freelancers working in the B2B space or the public sector. For example, an architect request for proposal usually tells you everything you need to know about your potential client’s needs: details of the building project, estimated budget and timeframe, questions they need answering, and more.
So, what is an RFP response? Think of your RFP response letter as a type of freelance proposal. Each freelancer or consultant who is interested in working on the project will typically send one, outlining how they plan to tackle the project and answering all of the client’s questions.
As you can see, RFPs are a great way to find more, better freelance clients; but, you can’t write an RFP response if you’re not actually receiving RFPs in the first place! So, how can you make sure you’re being sent RFPs from companies that you want to work with?
There are two main ways that you can make sure you’re receiving RFPs. The first is to reach out to big players in your industry, or any company that you’d really love to work with, and simply ask to be included on their RFP distribution list. Be sure to come prepared with relevant work examples and a strong elevator pitch if you want to be taken seriously.
The second method is to identify third-party RFP management companies in your industry. Big and medium-sized clients, in particular, will often outsource their RFP requests to these companies, so get in touch and find out how you can get on their contact list.
Now that you know what an RFP response is and how to make sure you’re in the right position to submit one, you’re probably wondering exactly how to write an RFP response. Much like any freelance proposal, your RFP response needs to be convincing, help you stand out from your competitors, and clearly answer all of your client’s questions.
Bonsai was specifically created to help freelancers like you run their business with more ease, with tools that help you generate RFPs (or proposals) and send invoices in the click of a button. Sign up for a free trial today and see how much time it can save you when writing your next RFP response.
Read on for our tips to follow when figuring out how to respond to an RFP in the right way.
It’s normal to get excited when you receive an RFP, but bear in mind that responding may not actually be worth the time and effort involved. Carefully evaluate the opportunity before starting your response. John Boyens of the Forbes Council recommends only responding to an RFP if you have an at least 50% chance of winning the business.
When evaluating an RFP opportunity, look for common red flags or things that might work against you, like:
It’s important to spend time carefully reading the RFP so that you have a clear understanding of what your potential client needs. If you skim read, you might miss important details or questions.
Review each of the RFP’s components one by one and write down each question being asked to make sure you answer them all. A good practice is to create a checklist for yourself when going through the RFP so that you know exactly what to include in your proposal.
Every RFP response will be a little bit different, but it’s important to cover the basics in your RFP response letter. A good response always includes the following things:
Take a look at Hubspot’s excellent proposal formula for more tips on how to include these crucial details in your cover letter, executive summary and more.
While you should always be transparent in your pricing, especially in your freelance invoices, when submitting your RFP response it’s best to group things together as much as you can. Giving a lot of detail in your pricing breakdown opens you up to scrutiny and gives the client more points to negotiate on.
Don’t break everything down line by line. For example, if you’re applying for a design project, you’ll likely want to break down how much time and cost will be spent on the logo versus the website design. However, you don’t need to tell them how much each website page will cost, or how much time it takes to create a color palette.
Also, be sure to never quote your lowest price, and don’t rely on your pricing to differentiate you from other applicants. Your RFP response should show a good mix of a reasonable price and proven skill. If you’ve already quoted your lowest price and your client comes back with a counteroffer, you won’t be able to accept it. So, always give yourself some room in your pricing.
Keep in mind that this client may have never come across your work before, so they need proof that you can actually do the things you say you can do. Dedicate a section of your RFP response to a success story you’re particularly proud of. Just be sure that it’s relevant to the project at hand.
Social proof can be the only thing standing between you and your next freelance contract, so find out how to ask for testimonials from your previous clients and get in the habit of including them in your RFP responses and other proposals.
Now that you know how to respond to an RFP, it’s time to get prepared. RFPs are notorious for having tight deadlines, and you sometimes only have a matter of days to pull together a convincing RFP response letter. Plus the average company spends a whopping 20-40 hours on a single RFP response! To make it easier, we suggest having a template on file that you can personalize to each project.
Be sure to strike a balance, as you don’t want your client to think that you’re reusing the same information for each RFP response. Your template should only include 70-80% of the information, while the additional 20-30% should be unique to each RFP and project.
You can even create and save your template in Bonsai’s freelance proposal tool for easy access. Check out our free trial and you can see just how easy it can be to do your day-to-day freelance admin in the click of a button.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?