Win the Chance to Bid

Tips and techniques for successful RFP responses

By Kevin P. Young, Principal Market Intelligence Analyst

How can you improve the odds of your RFP being seriously considered? There are five general rules that will help keep you from making the most common mistakes that disqualify many RFPs.

The last thing a government contractor wants is to have their bid rejected because they did not correctly complete the government’s Request for Proposals (RFPs). However, rejections for incorrect RFP response are actually a common occurrence. With so many companies competing for federal business, RFPs are often rejected for non-conformity and sloppiness.

Five Steps to Better RFPs

1. Start the RFP process with a manageable and measurable project plan and compliance matrix.

2. Emphasize “high-impact intangibles” such as “win” themes, value propositions, and unique differentiators.

For example:

  • For on-site or virtual staffing: 24-/48-/72-hour response model
  • For account/delivery/PMO directors: Project Management Institute (PMI), Project Management Professional (PMP)®, or Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification(s)
  • For all delivery personnel: Government Market Master™ or comparable certification
  • Superior Service Guarantee for service level quality, timetables, and budgets
  • Customer Value Index(CVI) Survey, Process and Methodology for Satisfaction, Loyalty, and Advocacy
  • Language matters: “All work will be completed in the spirit of the U.S. Department of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA) standards. All key processes will be documented, measured, and repeated.”
  • Language matters … part two: “Whenever feasible, we will leverage (state/city)-based staff members for the (client) account, ensuring this contract will benefit our state residents and our local businesses.”

3. Always schedule “Color Team” reviews with enough time to correct any outstanding issues.

4. Have your best editor complete final reviews to ensure no one, including partners and subcontractors, omitted any important points. This will also ensure clarity and accuracy of your final document.

5. Build in a final weekend for last-minute actions. So, work backward from any posted deadline.

Remember that more than one federal government examiner will review, evaluate, and score your RFP response — most likely by sections. Keep each section tight, with every requirement addressed and all questions answered succinctly, including the cover letter, executive summary, and key personnel resume sections. Ensure your differentiators are addressed in all sections so that your company earns its full scores per area.

Don’t let your eagerness to submit a proposal cause you to miss or leave out important details. As NFL Hall of Fame Coach Vince Lombardi said, “Leave it all on the field.” This article was adapted from a commentary originally published in Washington Technology…

Want to keep on top of federal procurement regulations. Subscribe to immixGroup’s Government Sales Insider blog now!

Kevin P. Young is Principal Market Intelligence Analyst for immixGroup, the public sector business of Arrow Electronics, delivering mission-driven results through innovative technology solutions for public sector IT. Visit for more information.

About Kevin P. Young
Kevin P. Young is a 34-year veteran of the Federal Government Industry, serving in executive, professional, management consulting, speaking / training, and adjunct professor roles. He is recipient of the IBM Excellence Award, IBM Marketing Award, and – as a site team – Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, sponsored by U.S. Department of Commerce. He currently serves as Senior Market Intelligence Analyst for Arrow Electronics / immixGroup.

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