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How to Write an RFP


Author: MTM RFP Coordinator, Caleb Yen

When it comes to writing RFP’s, never forget the essentials.  

An RFP is a Request for Proposal- a document organizations send out to prospective bidders to acquire goods or services. Before beginning a significant project of any kind, it is essential to create one of these. A typical RFP consists of project information, a scope of work, pricing details, and lots of questions.
Although necessary, writing an RFP is tough. There is a ton of information to share, but it is important to not overwhelm your bidders. It’s fairly difficult to create a document that’s simultaneously both incredibly informative and simple to navigate, especially when countless other departments are sending email after email packed with information they feel needs to be included. Here are a few best practices to help clear your head and look at the basics.

RFP Best Practices to follow

1. Plan Ahead & Research

Before even putting pen to paper or finger to key, first, figure out what you’re trying to accomplish. Do some research. Talk with different department heads at your company or begin with a quick google search.

Determine your scope of work. Get a solid idea of what your options are. Pick one, and tell bidders exactly what you’re thinking of. State your expectations, and let bidders know about anything that could disqualify them.

Don’t overstress it. You’re probably not an expert, and there might be unforeseen hurdles with your scope of work. That’s okay. That’s what this entire RFP process is for- a way for you to get feedback on your project from multiple bidders. But these bidders have to have a framework to work from. Just let them know that alternate suggestions are acceptable.

2. What to include in an RFP

A successful RFP is a simple RFP. Don’t make your bidders dig or guess to determine what you want. Start off with a detailed table of contents and a short introductory section about your company, then get into what you want and need from bidders.  Include a section detailing your current situation and a section packed with clear and concise information concerning how you want the proposal to be sent. How many copies? Physical or digital? Email or upload?

Then include questions you want to be answered. Finish up with any forms you need to be filled out and any legal information you need to include.

Pro Tip: It’s also helpful to create a checklist of items that must be included with the final submission. That way you don’t have to worry about forgotten documents or missed information.

3. Common RFP Mistakes

Once you have the framework of your RFP constructed, you need to sprinkle it with details. Little things that, if neglected, can completely stall the RFP process for your bidders. For instance:

  • State if you want shipping to be included in the price or not. Include budgets or comparable items. Where do you want products shipped? A bidder cannot provide accurate, comparable pricing without this.
  • Include a project reference number. This ensures that you will get the correct proposals.
  • Clearly, state what your disqualifiers are. Bidders don’t want to read through an entire RFP response only to find out they don’t meet one of your base qualifications.
  • Tell bidders about your company or customer demographics. Are they mostly male? Female? How about age? Let bidders know about any interests particular to the end user as well.
  • Make sure all bidders understand the elements that will be included in your decision. Don’t ask many questions that don’t pertain to illuminating these specific elements.

So what’s the key to a successful RFP? Keep it simple. You don’t want to spend valuable time explaining vague phrasing or minuscule details. Focus on best practices and avoid packing the RFP with extraneous information.

Have any questions about RFP best practices?

If you have any questions about this blog or want to know how to get an RFP response, MTM would be happy to help. With over 44 years of experience in the employee recognition industry, we’ve answered more than our fair share of RFPs. We’ve also written countless RFPs of our own. Check us out at and fill out our handy online contact form or call us by phone at (877) 686-7464.

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