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The RFP proposal writer: Role, skills and resources

The RFP proposal writer: Role, skills and resources

Proposal writers play an essential role in winning RFPs and driving revenue. Explore everything you need to know about this profession including key skills, responsibilities and resources for professional development.

Category: Author: Cory Edwards

Cory Edwards is a Senior Professional Services Consultant at Responsive. She excels at building meaningful relationships, empowering customers with technology and knowledge, and taking on challenging tasks with confidence. Cory helps customers achieve their goals through empathy, creative problem-solving and collaboration.
The RFP proposal writer: Role, skills and resources

The RFP proposal writer: Role, skills and resources

There’s an art to creating proposals that are fact-filled, persuasive and memorable. It takes a combination of creativity, attention to detail, sales savvy and marketing know-how. Consequently, an effective RFP proposal writer embodies all of these attributes and leverages them to help their business win RFP opportunities.

The RFP proposal writer role provides a unique opportunity to connect with customers and directly influence business growth. It’s a challenging, exciting and rewarding position ⁠— do you have what it takes to be successful?

In this blog, we’ll explore the role of a proposal writer in detail. First, we’ll define the position and how it fits into the proposal team. Next, we’ll focus specifically on the responsibilities and skills required. Finally, you’ll discover recommended resources for proposal writers.

The proposal writer role

What is a proposal writer?

A proposal writer, sometimes called a bid writer, is the person responsible for creating complete and compelling responses to the questions posed in a request for proposal (RFP). Their goal is to help the organization articulate their value and win new business. The title of proposal writer may refer to any position focused on creating persuasive documents including grant, research or project proposals. However, this blog and the advice included focuses on professionals who write in response to RFPs.

Role in the proposal team

Within the proposal team, the RFP response writer reports to and works closely with the proposal coordinator or manager responsible for proposal project management. In large organizations, a single proposal writer may work on multiple RFPs and projects simultaneously. On the other hand, in other organizations, one employee may serve as both the proposal manager and the proposal writer.

Key responsibilities of an RFP proposal writer

From one business to another, the responsibilities of the proposal writer vary. Ideally, the proposal writer dedicates themselves fully to the composition of proposal content. However, they may perform other duties as a part of the proposal team. 

Proposal writer responsibilities

  • Read incoming requests for proposals 
  • Participate in kick-off meetings, strategy sessions and proposal project planning
  • Review and customize RFP responses from the proposal content library
  • Collaborate with subject matter experts (SMEs) and proposal contributors to articulate complex facets of products and services
  • Review and edit RFP responses created by SMEs and stakeholders from various internal teams
  • Ensure responses follow brand style and tone guidelines as well as coach SMEs as needed
  • Verify that responses address key customer hot buttons and win themes
  • Write or review additional RFP response documents and attachments including RFP cover letters and executive summaries
  • Incorporate feedback from proposal review sessions
  • Assist with proposal knowledge management and retention of content for future use

The most important proposal writer skills


The whole purpose of the RFP process is to communicate. Accordingly, it should be no surprise that clear communication is the first skill on our list of must-haves.

RFP proposal writers excel at expressing complex ideas and concepts in a way that is approachable and easy to understand. Indeed, they must produce written work that is articulate and free of typos. In addition to being a master of the written word, you must also be able to effectively communicate and collaborate verbally with colleagues.


As a proposal writer, you’ll work closely with colleagues from all areas of your business. While every person you work with will deliver value to the process, they may not be able to instinctually express differentiators and value. Luckily, that’s where you come in. As you connect with contributors, it’s important to collaborate by listening, brainstorming, clarifying and interviewing them.

From executives and department heads to specialists and consultants, you’ll spend time working closely with a variety of roles. Together, you’ll work from one question to the next to identify key elements to include in your answers. Then, you’ll write to show the prospective customer exactly why your company is their best choice. 

Time management

Successful proposal writers are experts at project management and prioritization. Moreover, they may work on several proposals or projects concurrently with overlapping deadlines. Consequently, the ability to adhere to a strict proposal timeline and avoid delays is highly prized. In any case, the fast-paced work is rewarding and those who are highly motivated and organized tend to thrive.

Attention to detail

It’s not uncommon for RFPs to include dozens of complex requirements. Consequently, the corresponding proposal may span a hundred or more pages. Accordingly, proposal writers need to be tenacious, thorough and meticulous.

In addition to ensuring the proposal response meets the RFP requirements, proposal writers must check each response for a number of things. For example, they must write and review for accuracy, grammar, readability, style, terminology and more. 

An aptitude for technology

As with most modern careers, technology is now a significant part of the day-to-day operations of many proposal teams. Indeed, professionals with technology experience are in demand. More specifically, those with proposal software experience are particularly sought after. Designed specifically to improve efficiency in the RFP response process, these solutions are widely used by leading proposal teams.

The best RFP software solutions centralize the entire process. Specifically, they enable proposal project management, content knowledge management and data collection.

Resources for proposal writers

While the proposal process can be complex, fortunately, there are lots of RFP response tools that lighten the load. From collaboration and proposal management to persuasive writing and grammar, there’s a software, tool or resource to help you hone your skills.

To connect and learn: Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP)

If you’re looking to deepen your proposal process knowledge or network with peers, look no further than the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP). With APMP, you’ll find education, commiseration and collaboration in one place.

To sharpen your persuasive writing skills: Chip & Dan Heath – Made to Stick

While this book isn’t specifically for proposal writers, the skills it teaches are incredibly valuable to the RFP response process. It focuses on reviewing your writing for six key elements — simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion and stories.

To check proposals for readability and grammar: Hemingway Editor

Using the Hemingway App is incredibly easy. To analyze your proposal responses, simply copy and paste them into the app and work through the text. Then, the app helpfully highlights sections that need attention. For example, you can quickly review your work for difficult to read sentences, passive voice, simplicity and overuse of adverbs.

To expand your expertise: LinkedIn Learning

Looking to expand your skill set? Start with the courses on LinkedIn Learning. It seems that there’s a course for every aspect of the proposal process in addition to topics that will expand your expertise. Make professional development a priority and expand your horizons into sales, marketing and business development courses as well.


Ultimately, proposal writers use the RFP response as a canvas to paint an appealing picture for potential customers. How will everyone benefit? What will a partnership with the business look like? How do the mission, vision and values of the two companies align? Without a doubt, much of persuasion is about getting the proposal evaluator to imagine themselves as your customer and compel them to take the next step.

Not only is the proposal writer a key element of business growth, but they also enjoy close relationships with key contacts throughout the business. Consequently, this exposure and insight continually improve their understanding of the business while providing visibility to the value of their work. All of these elements make this role ideal for someone who is creative, empathetic and ambitious.

How profiles can enhance and accelerate the sales process

How profiles can enhance and accelerate the sales process

What’s the most tedious part of responding to RFPs, RFIs and RFQs? The repetition. Like a kid during a road trip asking “Are we there yet?” every five minutes, most questions in RFPs and other requests have been asked before. Many times. The answer is almost always the same, and the repetition can wear you down.

But what if you didn’t have to respond to the same standard questions over and over? Or, at the very least, were able to do it a lot less? If you could proactively provide answers to the most common RFP questions before they’re even asked, what would happen? Ideally, you’d receive shorter RFPs that only ask new questions that are unique to the prospect’s needs. The proactive approach would also make you the vendor that sets the stage for the deal, leaving your competitors to play catch up. And, in the best case scenario, you’d be able to avoid a formal, competitive RFP altogether.

InfoSec professionals began adopting profiles as an efficient means of sharing information several years ago. Today, sharing a profile, instead of completing a questionnaire, is the prevailing means of providing sensitive (though repetitive) IT security information to prospects, customers, and business partners. If your IT team can use an information profile to avoid answering the same security and risk questions over and over — why not apply the same principle to RFPs, bids and proposals?

In this blog, we’ll explore how bid and proposal professionals can leverage profiles to reduce repetitive work and win more business. First, we’ll start with some basics about what an information profile is and the potential benefits of using one. Next, we’ll explore what this idea looks like in practice and provide examples of the kinds of information you might share with a prospective or current customer using a profile. Finally, we’ll share how the Responsive platform’s new product, Profile Center, makes it easy — plus offer tips to try it out for yourself.

Profile basics and background

What is an information profile?

First thing’s first: What is a profile? When we use the term profile, we’re referring to a collection of information assembled to address the needs of a specific audience. The information within a profile addresses a particular topic and is factual, thorough but standardized. Common profile contents include precompleted questionnaires, fact sheets, policy documents, certificates, and other credentials. The objective is to provide a body of information that enables your prospects, customers, and business partners to browse the profile you’ve shared and self-serve the information they require.

How are profiles used?

As mentioned in the introduction, InfoSec (information security) teams pioneered the use of security profiles to share detailed, sensitive information with trusted external parties. They regularly use security profiles to deliver vendor risk assessments, preempt SIG (standardized information gathering) questionnaire requests and share security certifications. A profile might include complex information about a company’s data storage policies, employee training, security certifications, hardware policies and so on.  

In this case, the information in the profile likely doesn’t change significantly from day to day or depending on who’s asking. Regardless, this information is specialized and isn’t public so it’s routinely requested by customers, partners and others. Luckily, profiles are ready to go whenever they’re needed.

It is common for teams to maintain multiple profiles—each focused on a distinct product line, system, or policy area. Organizing information into multiple profiles helps ensure the information shared is focused on the needs of the viewer, and ensures sensitive information is shared on a need-to-know basis.  

Why use a profile instead of a PDF or Word document?

Unlike a PDF or Word document that is out of your hands once sent, an information profile offers more control. Profiles are shared by invitation only, ensuring only your intended recipient can view the information. Access to the profile is provided using an email address and delivered in a secure portal. Additionally, the sender can adjust user permissions, revoke access if needed, revise and reshare information, and see if the profile has been viewed or downloaded for additional insight.

Using profiles to win business

When viewed at a high level, the sales cycle is one big exchange of information. You’re asking questions and building a picture of the opportunity. What does the prospect need? How can you help? Who else are they considering? Will the engagement be mutually beneficial? The buyer is likewise trying to gather information, but they may not know what they should be asking. 

Here’s your chance to use a profile to assist, educate and influence the deal. Collaborate with your sales, marketing, bid and proposal teams to create a general profile that offers detailed answers to the 25 (or so) most commonly asked RFP questions. Add more information that speaks to the customer’s specific needs using your RFP content library. Then, invite them to the profile.

This approach has a number of advantages.

1. Create a sense of transparency, exclusivity and trust

As a bid and proposal professional, your instinct is to heavily customize anything you send to connect with the customer and sell them the exact solution they need. And, when you’re answering a competitive RFP, that tailoring is essential to success. 

However, when you provide a profile, you’re likely earlier in the sales cycle. At this point, you’re acting as an expert consultant. By inviting a prospect to view a profile, you create a sense of transparency, exclusivity and trust. 

Transparency – Because the profile contains general information and very little customization, you create the perception that you’re not winding up for a hard sell, you’re simply seeking to educate. You’re there to assist them in their journey and help them find the right solution. 

Exclusivity – Information contained in your profile isn’t publicly available to just anyone. Logging in to a secure portal makes the prospect feel like they’re being let into a high-value secret.

Trust – While most of the information in your profile likely isn’t sensitive and echoes dozens of past RFP responses, you don’t share it freely for obvious reasons. As you advise and consult with the prospect, you’re building trust. It’s a two-way street that a profile reinforces.

2. Skip the RFP altogether

When a prospect expresses a desire to tap into your organization’s expertise, sales teams often jump at the chance to help write an RFP. Naturally, you ask questions that play to your strengths. But you’re still going head to head with your competitors. 

Instead, consider offering access to a profile that has common questions AND your answers in one neat package. Offering a profile proactively delivers the standardized information the prospect needs to gain buy-in from their business without unintentionally seeding the idea that they should compare vendors. 

Additionally, a profile may enable you to provide the prospect with everything they need to move forward to the next steps. The goal is to give them confidence that they can (and should) skip the hassle, extra time and expense of issuing an RFP.

3. Influence unavoidable RFPs

Admittedly, sending a proactive profile isn’t going to help you to avoid every RFP. But, it can still be a valuable tool for positioning your organization to win. Buyers and procurement teams often draw RFP inspiration from independent research and industry analysts but there’s nothing quite like a real-life example. Build your information profile using common questions from past RFPs as well as those that best highlight your strengths. 

When you share the information as a way to help your prospect, you’ll accomplish two things. First, you’ll influence the questions of the RFP and have a head start on your response. And second, the buyer may subconsciously set a higher bar for competitors based upon your answers.

Additional profile use cases and examples

Profiles are helpful in a variety of applications across your entire business. Essentially, any information that you’d like to securely deliver to an external party can be provided via a profile. For example, you could create profiles to share:

  • Proactive sales information (as described above)
  • Boilerplate company information
  • Financial history and insurance details
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) policies
  • Data security policies and certifications
  • Supplier diversity certifications
  • Due diligence information
  • Vendor security information
  • Privacy policies
  • SOC certifications
  • ESG policies
  • Terms and conditions

An inside look at the Responsive Profile Center

Creating and sending secure profiles is quick and easy with our strategic response management platform. The Responsive Profile Center enables your team to build and send profiles leveraging your Responsive content. Because Responsive serves as a single source of truth, your customer receives consistent, current and approved content across profiles and RFP responses. 

Information Profile Center RFPIO Screen Shot

Want to see Profile Center for yourself? Request a demo here.

How it works

  1. Create a profile to share, selecting completed questionnaires from your response projects and relevant documents from your content library.
  2. Enter email addresses for recipients and set access level.
  3. Recipients receive an invitation to view the profile.
  4. Recipients view the profile after verifying their identity with a one-time passcode sent to their email. 
  5. Track recipients’ engagement with the profile content through real-time analytics.
  6. Revoke or revise access when the engagement changes or concludes.

Key benefits

  • Secure access – Share profiles with confidence and confidentiality, protecting access with one time password (OTP) verification and real-time control. 
  • Current and complete content – Use the Responsive AI-enabled content library as a single source of truth for accurate and effective response content..
  • View or download control – Specify how recipients can interact with your information, maintaining complete control over your profiles.
  • User activity tracking – See how many times profiles have been viewed or downloaded, learning how they’re being used.
  • Review profile history – See activity logs and an audit trail for changes and updates made by your team to every profile.
  • Revoke access at any time – Resend, revoke or delete your profiles as needed based on your sales process, time limits and so on.
  • Dashboard for profile data visualization – Glance at a dashboard to see real-time analytics on interactions with shared content.

Final thoughts

Building prefilled questionnaires and document collections from your Responsive response content — profiles — have a wide range of benefits. From easily sharing information with customers and business partners in a secure environment to improving customer relationships and closing new business as quickly as possible, Profile Center helps you take your bid and proposal process to the next level. Using profiles empower you to be more proactive, helpful and aligned with your prospects and others.

See Profile Center in action

If you would like to explore more about how you can use profiles to win more business and accelerate deal time frames, request a Responsive demo. Or, if you’re an Responsive customer, see it in action with your account manager.

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