Regardless of the industry, size of business or location, every company has two things in common: they buy and sell. In any given day, your procurement department might issue requests for proposals (RFPs) for substantial purchases, such as software or vital materials needed for the products or services you sell.
At the same time your procurement team is doing their thing, your response team could be gathering subject matter experts, writers and editors to craft an RFP response that ideally results in a sale.
In this blog, we’ll help organizations buy and sell. For procurement teams, we have a comprehensive assortment of RFP examples from nearly every industry. Along with each RFP, you’ll see a short description of why it is unique or noteworthy. Armed with these examples, you’ll be well on your way to creating an excellent RFP for any new procurement project.
For response teams, we compiled a list of RFP best practices, complete with response examples, to help you create the responses the customer is looking for and win more bids. With each example, you’ll see an explanation of why such responses resonate with customers.
Even if your product or organization isn’t an immediate fit, a well-written and considered response could lead to future opportunities.
- Advertising and marketing RFP examples
- Business operations RFP examples
- Construction RFP examples
- Financial RFP examples
- Healthcare RFP examples
- Technology RFP examples
Best practices and examples for writing competitive RFP responses
Advertising and marketing RFP examples
Inside this request for proposal, you’ll find a great example of how to provide plenty of background and project information to guide interested agencies. Issued by the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the RFP seeks an agency of record for a long-term relationship. Accordingly, the document includes links and details about the county’s business plan, target market and team structure.
Most of the RFP examples you’ll see have a very formal tone with lots of official-sounding jargon. Consequently, that’s why this branding RFP example stands out. The Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization, uses approachable, conversational language to convey their goals and values. Not only does this make the RFP stand out from others, but it also gives potential vendors a sense of what it’s like to work with the Children’s Defense Fund.
The town of University Park’s RFP for a communications consultant includes a number of requested services. From creating content to social media management, the town outlines their needs in the document. This sample communications RFP strikes a nice balance between background, participation guidance and questions.
This helpful request for proposal sample comes from Lake Land College. Easy to navigate and read, the RFP clearly outlines the services needed, submission requirements and RFP scoring criteria. Indeed, the document contains a helpful and easy-to-follow grid.
This RFP from the City of Savannah, Georgia, offers a good example of a detailed scope of work, RFP questions tailored to the project, reference requirements and a list of required capabilities. In addition, the RFP makes the evaluation process and timeline clear. The City of Savannah seeks a marketing firm to help recruit qualified police officers. While the beginning of the RFP includes a lot of standard terms and conditions, the rest of the RFP delivers crucial information for interested vendors. This is a great example of how to write a thorough scope of work, customized RFP questions and a capability/need overview.
When you open this RFP from WE ACT for Environmental Justice, you’ll see that they get right down to business without delay. Indeed, this RFP for graphic design research report is very direct — they outline the scope of services on the very first page. Furthermore, this no-nonsense approach translates to their proposal criteria which is only three items. Specifically, the RFP requests that the proposal detail the candidate’s qualifications, examples of their work and proposed fees.
As a counterpoint to the short, project-based RFP example above, this RFP for ongoing design services is considerably longer. At 57 pages, the RFP includes background information, proposal and submission instructions, their RFP timeline and scoring criteria.
In this RFP example, the attention to detail, visual appeal and thoughtful approach convey the high expectations of the organization. In addition, the document itself reflects The Brand USA’s style and values. The subtle but impactful approach will attract the attention of marketing firms with similar high standards.
Generally, RFPs for social media services are either for ongoing management or campaign-specific projects. In this sample social media RFP, Newcap, Inc. seeks a partner for a year-long partnership. Helpfully, the document clearly specifies the company’s goals and the help they need to achieve them. However, the RFP questions are relatively general which may make vendor evaluation difficult.
Business operations RFP examples
When New Jersey City University (NJCU) decided to leverage their data to better understand their big-picture impact, they created this RFP. In the RFP, you’ll find details about the university’s desired outcomes as well as their requirements including a supplier diversity policy. Additionally, this RFP has a thorough list of RFP questions to inspire your own RFP.
Great Rivers Greenway District is a political division in the state of Missouri. As such, they require a wide variety of legal services including legal research, drafting, regulatory advice and litigation. This sample RFP provides a useful list of RFP questions that are unique to legal service procurement. In addition to the standard proposal evaluation process, the organization will invite shortlisted candidates to interviews with RFP presentations.
When you’re looking for an insurance broker, you want to work with someone who can serve all your needs. For the Public Health Institute, that means finding a broker with a wide-range of carrier relationships. For example, they maintain policies that cover crime, inland marine and cyber liability, in addition to more common coverages. In this RFP example, the organization makes their needs clear. Additionally, they share their RFP weighted scoring values to help vendors focus on the most important factors.
Ahead of a potential remodel, Morrow County issued this sample RFP for project management services. Specifically, they issued the RFP to seek help determining the facility needs, potential options and merits of remodeling versus new construction. Not often seen in other RFP examples, this RFP clearly states three pass/fail criteria: on-time submission, proposal completeness and the number of copies included. While these things may seem minor, they communicate to potential vendors the seriousness of the project and the sense that the organization has no time to waste.
Construction RFP examples
The City of Urbana used this sample RFP for architectural services to identify the best firm for three specific projects as well as potential future work. Consequently, you’ll find this detailed RFP helpful whether you need to issue an architecture RFP for a one-time project or for a long-term partnership.
When you face a one-of-a-kind procurement project, specificity is key. Certainly, that’s the case with this sample RFP for the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township in Indianapolis, Indiana. The RFP outlines the goal of ensuring equitable access throughout the school district. It specifies the desired qualifications and experience and offers visual elements to help interested firms develop their proposals.
After operating from a communal office space, the Clean Power Alliance of Southern California was ready to find a new location for their 40 employees. They subsequently issued this real estate RFP, which serves as our next example. The RFP includes a timeline, proposal requirements, evaluation criteria and a detailed scope of services.
While this RFP example is relatively short at only seven pages, it’s packed full of information without being overwhelming. Indeed, on the first page, you’ll find Incourage Community Foundation’s vendor priorities for their Tribune Building remodel. They’re looking for a local company that prioritizes diversity, talent development and sustainability. Additionally, they provide plentiful background information and history about the building and site.
This design-build request for proposal example is from the city of Summit County, Colorado for a public shooting range. The RFP establishes a deliverable timeline and provides a detailed list of evaluation criteria.
The County of Caroline, Virginia created this sample RFP for engineering services to find the right vendor for a three-year contract. Indeed, the document specifies the county’s engineering needs including responsibilities throughout research, planning, design, negotiation and construction phases. Each phase is broken down into bullet points with detailed responsibilities.
Financial RFP examples
Asset management RFP example
Not only is this asset management RFP example from Capital Region Water easy to read, it’s also visually appealing. Indeed, as vendors and service providers become more selective, responding to only RFPs that are the best fit, making your RFP more memorable is an advantage. In addition, the RFP is only nine pages, unusually brief for this kind of RFP.
This banking services RFP from the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence has a wide range of insightful questions and clear vendor qualifications, which includes demonstrating social responsibility.
As you might expect, most financial RFP examples tend to contain a lot of detailed information. Typically, you’ll find lengthy background, qualifications and submission instructions. Indeed, this RFP is no exception. Issued by the Office of the State Treasurer of Delaware, the RFP includes tables to report assets under management and client base numbers. Furthermore, you’ll find lots of interesting questions to help guide your own RFP.
Formatted perfectly and full of insightful questions, this RFP from The Investments & Wealth Institute is one of the best RFP examples out there. Indeed, the document strikes a balance between details and brevity. The questions explore the potential firm’s strength and stability, investment process, service, structure and accessibility, performance reporting and fee structure.
Healthcare RFP examples
Digital transformation is driving rapid change in the healthcare sector. Indeed, one of the most noticeable aspects of this change is the prevalence of electronic medical records. Because these systems are constantly evolving as needs change, hospitals and health systems often need to find support services for their EMR systems. This RFP template from CNY Care Collaborative is a great example because of its detailed and comprehensive guidelines, RFP criteria and background information.
This RFP for health clinic services covers a variety of services required by Deschutes County, Oregon. From employee health clinic marketing to pharmacy operations, you’ll find an extensive list of vendor requirements specific to healthcare services. To standardize pricing proposals, this RFP provides an attached RFP pricing table form for vendors to complete.
Making the right choice in procurement is crucial. Indeed, it’s particularly important in healthcare, where the impact can literally be the difference between life and death. Luckily, there are a lot of health portal RFP samples including this one from the National Learning Consortium. The template allows for in-depth explanations, background, vendor requirements and scope expectations for vendors.
For hospitals, successful strategic planning often requires an outside perspective. Indeed, the goal of this RFP example, from the University of New Mexico Hospital, is to find the right consultant team to evaluate the hospital’s current state, major competitors, new opportunities and potential future trends. The evaluation criteria include an emphasis on the consultancy’s technical approach, management approach, experience and overall cost — a common trio of measures for consultant service RFPs.
Pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) RFP example
This sample RFP from the Employees Retirement System of Texas solicits bids from pharmacy benefits managers. It is notable for the tools it includes to help vying vendors submit proposals that are complete and compliant. For example, the document includes a helpful deliverables checklist, pricing tables, and a fillable RFP response.
Technology RFP examples
As you might expect, this RFP for a legal software solution, from the city of Duluth, Minnesota, is detailed and comprehensive. The document includes additional forms to speed the contracting process. As with many in the government sector, this software RFP requires a paper response in addition to a digital one.
Searching for new help desk software is a challenge. However, this RFP from Pedernales Electric Cooperative, Inc. offers a good starting point. The RFP organizes their needs by must-have and optional functionality. Furthermore, the RFP scoring prioritizes the experience and approach questions.
Like many modern organizations, the National Association of State Workforce Agencies manages a lot of data, including potentially sensitive information. Consequently, this RFP explores the scope as well as the expected deliverables to help them identify the right partner for this project. It’s a great start for anyone looking to engage a third-party for a systems security assessment.
Of all the RFP examples, this one may be the most unusual. Issued by the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation, this RFP seeks to find a partner to develop an augmented reality mobile app. Specifically, the goal is to provide visitors a one-of-a-kind experience while walking through a park filled with trees planted in memory of donors’ loved ones. Because of the unique nature of the need, the RFP includes a general vision of the project, maps of the area and specific functionality required.
From project planning to implementation, this RFP example from Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County seeks a partner to provide the full range of services. The RFP breaks down into two primary projects. Specifically, the RFP identifies the need for a meeting tracking system and a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request system. While the document doesn’t identify specific scoring weights, it does provide very specific directions for vendors as well as a detailed timeline for the project.
Thorough and detailed, this RFP for website design and development from Design Lights Consortium is a great example of how to set your prospective vendors up for success. The project-specific questions in the RFP are direct and will make it easy for the organization to compare the results. In addition, the RFP asks a number of project-specific direct questions that will enable the organization to easily compare their options.
Best practices and examples for writing competitive RFP responses
We probably don’t need to mention that RFP response storytelling is not about making up characters and plotlines. Your job is to use the company’s story to sell a product or service. Write for your audience, not award committees or even yourself.
The following are some of our recommended best practices.
1. Tell your why
As every middle school journalism teacher will tell you, there are six elements to a good story: who, what, where, when, why, and how. It’s the same with RFP response.
“Who,” as we mentioned above, is about your company, not your founder (with an exception we’ll talk about in a moment).
“What” is the product or service. “Where” is less about your location than the product or service (e.g., Where will onboarding take place? Where are your products manufactured?). “When” should outline deliverable dates. “How” is pretty self-explanatory, but what about “why?”
“Why” is an opportunity to genuinely resonate with your audience. Perhaps your company began because your founders were once in the customer’s shoes, or they saw a need that they were in a position to fill.
It might be tempting to include “why” when responding to a question about your company’s founding date or one that asks about product specs, but you’ll run the risk of annoying your customers by using valuable space for what they might see as superfluous information in those contexts. Also, you might have character and space limits.
Unless the RFP offers organic opportunities to present your “why,” save it for the cover letter.
RFP response example:
If, for example, a company wanted to improve efficiency. Here at Responsive, we might say something like:
“We understand your desire to improve efficiencies in your organization. We founded Responsive for that very reason. Our platform helps you take back time to spend with your customers, family, and of course, on yourself.”
2. Show you’re human
Individuals and company decision-makers all want to feel good about their buying decisions. Highlight the good that your company does.
RFP response example:
At Responsive, we’re proud of our workplace ideals and culture. But simply patting ourselves on the back might seem inauthentic. We let our employees speak for themselves. In our RFP responses, we often include something like:
“Responsive is committed to a diverse and inclusive work environment. Our employees voted this year, and we were honored as a Comparably Award winner for Best Outlook, Best CEO for diversity, and Best Leadership team.”
4. Customize answers with specific deliverables
When an RFP asks about deliverables, the customer wants more than just a timeline. They want to know that you understand their needs. If you sell a product, how long will it take for the customer to receive it? If you sell a service, what is the onboarding process? Sure, it’s easy to answer these questions with dates or predicted time from purchase, but remember, you’re telling a story.
RFP response example:
Let’s pivot from Responsive for a moment. Perhaps your company offers SEO services. Rather than simply listing timelines, say something like:
“At ____ SEO Consultants, we value partnership with our clients. First, we’ll meet with your content strategists to help devise a plan to leverage your strengths and highlight your values.
On average, we will deliver a detailed SEO strategy within X months.
By month Y, we will begin weekly strategy meetings with content writers and key stakeholders. Implementation will be ongoing but expect your first results within Z months.”
5. Be succinct and real
Most products or services are relatively dry. If you’re in tech, things can get rather *um* technical. If you sell a product, you might have to explain its manufacturing or logistics.
Odds are, the procurement person looking at your proposal has high-level knowledge of what they are seeking, but their eyes might start getting bleary if you go into too much detail, especially technical detail. Avoid jargon as much as possible.
RFP response example:
If, for example, the RFP asks about your approach to project management. Rather than describing your methodology or Gantt chart, say something like:
“Our project management team is agile. We tailor our proven process to each client’s unique needs with the main steps remaining consistent: build, test, and deploy to deliver value.”
6. Make life easier for the issuer
Reviewing a (long) proposal is a tedious enough process, don’t also make the issuer do extra work digging to find answers. Rather than directing them to an attachment or a URL to find the answer they’re looking for, answer their question within the proposal itself. In addition, you can always provide an attachment to expand on your answer or offer supporting evidence for it.
RFP response example:
“We practice secure application design and coding principles. Engineers are required to undergo security training for security awareness and secure coding.
We use third-party services to perform vulnerability/application security scans annually.
The most recent penetration report is attached to this package.”
7. Elaborate when appropriate
You don’t want to be too wordy or provide unnecessary information, but there are instances where a bit of elaboration is valuable. Sometimes you have to read between the lines to determine what the customer needs. Rather than just providing the most direct answer to the question, try to understand what the buyer is actually trying to learn. If a more detailed response fits better, go for it.
RFP response example:
The customer may want to know how you communicate new features to clients. Sure, you could respond with something like, “Upcoming platform enhancements are communicated to customers via email. You can also access them from the Help Center.”
Yes, that answer is succinct, but does it set you apart from your competitors? Maybe they asked that question because their current vendor doesn’t listen to suggestions or communicate new features. Instead, try something like:
“Our roadmap is heavily influenced by our customers through a feedback/enhancement request feature within the application. Customers can interact with one another’s requests, as well as with the development team. Their comments, voting, and status reports all influence future enhancements.
We then communicate enhancements to our customers via email release announcements. This email will have the major highlights from the release, a document outlining all the release details, and a link to the release details that can be accessed 24/7 in the Help Center.”
8. Say no with style
No one likes to pass up a business opportunity, but there are times when your company won’t be the right fit, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Rather than responding to an RFP and misleading the customer into believing that yours is the right solution, tell them “no” but do it the right way.
A well-composed “no” response might help open doors to future opportunities with the issuer.
RFP response example:
Imagine the customer is looking for a specific integration you don’t currently offer. Instead of a simple “No, we do not integrate with that tool,” say something like:
“Currently, the solution does not integrate with XYZ tool. However, a potential integration is on our 6-12 month product roadmap. We would love the opportunity to partner with you in identifying the best path forward to build an XYZ tool integration.”
Procurement and response professionals are two very distinct sides of the same coin. While that is true, both their jobs require a wealth of company and customer knowledge, ideally contained in one single source.
Request a Responsive demo to explore how you can transform those two disparate teams into integral parts of a sales cycle, ensuring that you have the tools you need to create your products or services, and drive growth and profitability.