Avoid These Pitfalls When Responding to an RFP By Melissa Swartz

Many organizations use a Request for Proposal (RFP) process for procuring goods and services. As an independent consultant, I have written many RFPs and evaluated even more responses (see "Do You Really Need an RFP? Because It's Really a Pain..."). The process offers a mechanism for providing large amounts of information that, when done properly, helps the buyers to evaluate and compare options. It is, in effect, a job interview.

Responding to an RFP can require a significant amount of effort from a vendor; sadly, we see proposals in response to RFPs that guarantee immediate elimination from consideration. Here are some of the biggest mistakes to avoid when responding to an RFP:

1. Disclaimers stating that the information and/or pricing contained in the response is not binding. Organizations issue RFPs, in part, so that they can separate the hype from the reality in terms of capabilities and pricing. If your proposal does not contain accurate information that your company is willing to stand behind (without disclaimers), then it's of no use to the purchasing organization.

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