When it comes to the buying process, responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) is a standard step. As we’ve previously discussed, you can always discover new opportunities on how to significantly improve the quality of your content, and also your conversion rates, and an RFP cover letter is one. (Read more about the proven RFP response formula that can help you get a higher close rate.)
According to a study conducted by The Content Marketing Institute, more than 90% of successful marketers working with B2B companies put a lot of accent on prioritizing their audience’s informational needs, instead of focusing on developing a promotional message.
And this is exactly where best practices for improving your RFP response process come in.
A winning RFP response includes a cover letter, as well as an executive summary. Both these sections offer an excellent opportunity to develop new content, focused solely on your prospect’s needs.
So what is an RFP cover letter after all?
Simply put, it’s a section that, in most cases, comes before the executive summary, where you position your RFP response.
No longer than a page, the RFP cover letter can be considered the intro of your response. Here you can present a few details about yourself, as well as the reason why your company is the best candidate.
Even though an issuer doesn’t include a specific section for a cover letter, it’s considered by many, including us, a must-have for any RFP response. Therefore, there are a few best practices you should take into consideration when developing a winning RFP cover letter.
How to write a winning RFP cover letter
1. Make sure it’s addressed to the right people
Ask yourself a few questions in the first place: who is going to go through your proposal? Do you know these people?
One of the most important things you should do before starting to write a great RFP cover letter is getting in touch with the contact. This way you can find out the names of those who will weigh in on the final decision.
By correctly and specifically addressing the letter to key contacts, you can instantly make a connection, therefore improving the chances of having your letter read. And that’s not all since you will also place emphasis on the idea that you are not just a good fit, but you have also done your ‘homework’ and strive to become a strategic partner.
2. Stay human
We know, this sounds a bit different, but just think about this from the recipient’s point of view.
After receiving dozens of proposals from several vendors, a lot of them offering similar services, sifting through RFP responses might seem a bit dry. After all, we’re talking about a process that can be repetitive and daunting.
The idea is to put together a letter using a humble tone and, at the same time, make it memorable. Show that your RFP cover letter is far from being just your average copy-and-paste model you found on the Internet. Instead, you actually did your research and are aware of the business’ goals.
3. Don’t forget about proper formatting
Writing huge chunks of texts is one of the most common mistakes people make when writing any kind of content. And it ends up looking horrible and making it very difficult to read. But you want to avoid this at all costs, especially when it comes to an RFP cover letter.
A great letter is visually appealing, from the very first moment, while not too dense. Don’t forget that you’re trying to make a great impression here.
Stick to one page, make good use of the space you have and write it with the three sections in mind: introduction, body, and conclusion. If you keep the reader engaged, your chances to make them read everything will increase significantly.
4. End it with a forward-looking call-to-action
Sure, the beginning of the RFP cover letter is very important but you also need to pay some attention to the way you’re ending it.
Our recommendation is to express your willingness to discuss any aspect mentioned in the proposal in greater detail. Also, consider including additional references, as these could help the reader in the decision-making process.
To wrap it up, we all must agree that an RFP cover letter is, unfortunately, an often overlooked sales tool. Even though it’s a great way of getting your message across directly to those who decide if your proposal wins or not, at no costs.
It takes little time to write it and offers a way of standing out from your competitors, so why not make sure you’re writing one that’s hard to ignore?
If you’re interested in discovering more RFP best practices, check out our guide on how to respond faster to an RFP.