When talking about Bid proposal cover letters, a good first impression can open paths you even didn’t imagine existed; therefore, trying to avoid boring proposal cover letters or ordinary copy-and-paste proposal cover letters can really make the difference. Leaving a first good impression is imperative in our personal life, and should be especially in a business as well, the business proposal included. If you are sending your response to the RFP (request for proposal), then you’d probably like to find a way to stand out from the others.
There is no better way to write a response to an RFP than to use a bid proposal cover letter as your entrance ticket. The response to an RFP is your sales pitch - your chance to “sell” your organization to the prospective client by creating a well-thought-out, detailed, and concise cover letter.
The focus of this letter should be the issuer of the RFP itself - keep him on your mind at all times, and try to explain how you are the one who will meet their needs in the exact way they want them to be met.
The main goal for the RFP cover letter is to grab the reader’s attention. After all, there will be many proposal cover letters sent, so you need to give yours a unique note that will increase your chances of winning in the bidding process and grab the attention of the proposal evaluators.
Although it sounds straightforward, the practice has shown that many companies actually struggle with cover letters. So, to help you not become one of them, here we bring you some tips on how you should write an RFP cover letter.
Keep the Standards High
If you participate in many RFP bidding processes and are busy writing dozens of proposals, you can very easily lose track of your standards. In addition, as already said, it is essential to keep the cover letter as personalized as possible, which usually means that writing one would be very time-consuming.
However, you can easily fall into the trap of creating a proposal template and a cover letter, changing just a few details, and then sending it to the issuer. This is a big no-no for writing proposals and cover letters, and you should avoid doing such things.
Information about your organization, like the name, email address, company description, etc. (all the general data), should be kept short and should be taking too much of a prospective customer’s attention. Remember that the cover letter is all about the potential client, so you should avoid talking about your company here.
If you are worried and you think that you should present your company in the cover letter so that the client can get to know you better, don’t be desperate straight away since you will have plenty of space in the proposal to do that later.
A part of the RFP proposal is the executive summary, where the top management from your company should share their mission and vision, the roots of the company, the plans for the next few years, etc. There is no point in talking about all that in the cover letter.
If you are bidding for many similar RFPs, then there is a point in creating a template that can be easily customized. However, make sure that you always have in the back of your mind that you need to keep each cover letter customer-oriented, so make sure that you proofread everything before sending it.
Sending a cover letter with some information regarding a previous client would be highly unprofessional, and if there is a risk of you doing such a thing, then it’s better not to create a template.
It is always best to craft the cover letter according to the specifics of the project and the specifics of the client. That is the only way you can ensure high standards are being met.
Know Who You’re Talking To
The key to success with the cover letter is personalization. This is why you should put effort into finding out who is the actual person who will read the proposals, and thus the cover letter. Thus, a good starting point for the cover letter would be to address it to that person.
This is a small detail that can take you a long way because it shows that you did go a little extra in the process of drafting your response to the RFP and that you do have great attention to detail.
Addressing the letter to an actual person is always your go-to, while generic “to whomever it concerns” may sound too cold, and the person reading it may feel unattached to your proposal.
There are several ways to find the person who will be responsible for reading the RFPs (requests for proposals). First, if that information is not available in the RFP itself, try to find it online.
Many companies that issue RFPs actually have a procurement department. One person from there would usually be in charge of that first, initial revision of the arrived proposals, verifying proposal compliance, and often you can see on the company’s website which that person is.
If such information is not available, you can always take the long shot and contact the issuer directly, looking for key contacts in charge of the bid. This can also show that you are very interested in working with them and only give you some bonus points. That little effort you put into finding out who is the person in charge can set you a deal with a potential long-term partner.
A name on the cover letter gives your response a personal touch and raises the chances that someone will pay close attention to your cover letter. It also shows that you are a keen person who puts in the effort to find crucial information about the project.
It shows you are interested in developing a closer professional relationship, and for sure, it will make you stand out from all other companies who had their cover letters genetically addressed.
Grab the Attention
Did you know that the majority of companies will only read the cover letters and, based on that, decide whether the response is appealing or not? Because of this, you must be able to write an excellent cover letter.
Most of the companies will also start their RFP cover letter by thanking the client for the chance to bid, and so on. This can sound very boring, and if that is the first thought the reader gets from reading just the first sentence, there are small chances they will be interested in reading any further.
Seasoned proposal professionals suggest that for creating the perfect proposal format, the trick is to think of an attention grabber for the beginning of the letter - something that will intrigue the reader and want him to read more and more. Writing the whole letter in this tone would actually be excellent advice to follow.
Maybe you can try to start the letter by mentioning something from the client’s history. This will show them that you have done your research and have put effort into finding out more about them as your potential client.
Don’t forget that you are talking to a real person, so make sure that your cover letter shows some empathy and emotions. Too technical or generic letters can make you sound like a robot, which is not the impression you would want to leave.
Be Attentive to Details
Every prospective client is looking for some specific skills their business requires. Since every RFP is different, they will have different requirements and requests listed that the potential vendor has to fulfill. These biggest differentiators are the key differentiators you should focus on.
In your cover letter, you can actually talk about those specifics to show how you pay attention to the client's needs and understand their needs. In addition, adding references that match the requesting organization’s unique characteristics will probably give your organization bonus points with the reviewing panel.
For example, if the project involves underprivileged people in the community, include client testimonials or your organization’s experience in handling the progress in a similar environment. Don’t get too carried away in explaining the details, project timelines, or other specifics; only refer to them. Later on, you can explain every specific, but here you don’t want to talk a lot about yourself.
Also, make sure to mention how your company has the necessary experience and expertise to deal with all those details, tasks, and requirements and how you can help them achieve their goal. The thing here is that you need to keep this statement client-oriented and not put too much stress on your organization.
The way to put the potential client in the center of attention is to explain how you plan to solve their issue and how they will benefit from it (with a small catch - you need to convince them that only you can create that value for them, not the other vendors).
Adjust Your Tone
The introduction should set a tone for the whole RFP cover letter. The letter's tone needs to be adjusted to the client, just like everything else in the proposal. If you are responding to a very casual IT company, then be casual as well. On the other hand, keep your tone very strict and professional if you are responding to a proposal issued by a government institution.
Using humor in the cover letter is not good or bad by default. As already said, it depends on who you are talking to. If the tone is set to be more casual, you can even add some images or other visual elements to be a part of your cover letter.
Here is where you need to keep in mind the company culture that you nurture. If you have a policy where all conversations should be professionally made, writing a casual cover letter would not align with that philosophy. This is why you need to balance adjusting your tone to the client and keeping your own spirit.
One thing to pay attention to is how many people are working on the cover letter. If there is more than one person included, always make sure to check whether their tones and writing styles match so that you can have one comprehensive cover letter in the end.
Finish In a Style
At the end of your cover letter, you should follow all the formalities like thanking the panel for their time and the job opportunity (remember how we mentioned at the beginning of this article that you shouldn’t place that in the introduction).
Also, make sure to appoint the person in charge from your side, so if the potential client has any questions, they know who their reference point is. Finally, make sure to mention that you are available for any discussion and alteration of the proposal (if possible and if needed).
You can also say something about how happy you are to provide more details or additional information if something was left unpurpose (however, make sure that the proposal is complete and this situation doesn’t happen).
The cover letter needs to have an ending because you will have a short conclusion of everything aforementioned. However, you will also set the ground for further steps and actions that need to be taken. This way, you are creating an engaging cover letter, and you are also urging the customer to take the next step.
To conclude everything aforementioned, the RFP response needs to be crafted perfectly. The first step in that time-consuming proposal process is creating a good, high-quality RFP cover letter.
As a brief conclusion, few main points to follow are:
Keep it personal - always make the proposal customer-centered - Remember that you need to talk about them, not about you.
Keep the standards up - make sure that you are providing the best quality letter you can
Be interesting - try to think of a hook that will grab their attention and make you stand out from the crowd
Be attentive to details - remember what the client requested in the RFP, and stick to that
Adjust your tone - based on the client you are writing to
Write a conclusion - to finish the letter and set ground for further actions that need to be taken
Of course, if you feel like something specific that you should mention in your RFP cover letter that is not mentioned in this article, feel free to go for it! After all, the best cover letters are the most personalized ones, so make sure you put that personal touch on everyone you write.
Be sure to write the impeccable RFP cover letter by asking us to support you in the overall bidding process. Reach out to us today and book your free consultation session with our experts, ready to help you and answer every question.