Best Practices When Responding to RFPs (Wrong Answers Only)

Let’s have some fun! I saw someone using this wrong-answers-only approach a while back and it was as fun as it was insightful. So, let’s apply it to RFPs and proposal writing. 

What are the best practices when responding to RFPs, wrong answers only?

  1. Maximize synergy by using popular buzzwords in every sentence. Target the low-hanging fruit, but then pivot for a deep dive into your core competencies. Leverage your unparalleled role as a paradigm-shifting thought leader; your customers expect nothing less. We’ll circle back and unpack this more in another article.
  2. Copy and paste your customer’s logo onto the title page of your proposal. Buyers LOVE IT when you use their trademarked property without their permission.
  3. Make lots of extraordinary claims; the more the better. But DO NOT waste time with proof, that just adds unnecessary wordiness.
  4. While we’re on the subject of extraordinary, be sure to highlight your company-wide commitment to consistently exceed customer expectations and consistently achieve 110% customer satisfaction. These kinds of extraordinary assurances make ordinary buyers feel all warm and fuzzy.
  5. They sent you an RFP because they want to know about you, so tell them! Everything! More is better, leave nothing out.
  6. While we’re talking about you, don’t be shy. In fact, you should begin every proposal with a six-page executive summary that talks all about you, your history since you were founded in the 1850’s, and all the awards you’ve won. Be very careful not to dilute your narrative by focusing too much on them and what they want. That’s a mistake only rookies make.
  7. An RFP is just a questionnaire. It’s perfectly acceptable to copy and paste answers from other proposals that were written in pursuit of other projects. Don’t worry, everybody does it.
  8. You can’t win if you don’t bid, right? It doesn’t matter if you don’t know them, never talked with them, are oblivious about their history or internal challenges, and have no idea who the incumbent vendor is. The more RFPs you reply to, the better your chances of winning.
  9. Just plug in some answers. We’ll be good.
  10. Responding to RFPs is so easy anybody can do it.

Have I left anything out?

David Seibert is president of The Seibert Group, a consulting and training organization for businesses that respond to RFPs from other businesses and from SLED (state/local government and education) agencies.


The Seibert Group provides a range of services:

·         Online proposal training

·         Onsite proposal training

·         Proposal and business development consulting services   


David authored Proposal Best Practices and The Sales Manager’s Guide to RFPs, he publishes Dave’s Blog about proposal and business development topics, and he is a regular speaker at numerous webinars, seminars, and conventions.


You can contact Dave at [email protected]. You can also follow Dave on LinkedIn.


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