How to create a stand-out RFP response (examples & tools)

The Dock Team
May 8, 2023
February 13, 2024

When responding to a request for proposal, if you don’t stand out, you don’t win. But this doesn't mean you have to sacrifice efficiency for personalization. 

Your end goal should be to sway the prospect in your favor with persuasive and engaging proposals. But you should also leverage templates and tools that allow you to do this at scale.

Read on as we explore tips and tools that will streamline your process and increase your chances of closing the deal. 

The 6 elements of an effective RFP response 

An RFP response is a written sales proposal that answers how a company can meet the requirements outlined in a request for proposal (RFP) from a potential client. 

It typically includes a detailed description of the company's proposed solution, approach, capabilities, experience, and pricing. 

The purpose of an RFP response is to demonstrate to the client that the company has thoroughly understood their needs and can deliver a solution that meets or exceeds their expectations. 

Because every RFP response will compete with another company’s proposal, writing a winning proposal is all about standing out.

Stand-out RFP responses should be personalized to the prospective client and project but should always include a few key elements—plus any additional information the client has asked you to provide).

Here are the six elements to include in your RFP response, along with RFP response examples you can use to draft a winning proposal.

1. Cover letter

Begin your RFP response with a concise and well-designed introduction that informs the prospect how your solution solves their problem. Use language that puts the focus on the potential client and highlights your company’s interest in working with them.

Ideally, your cover letter should mention the following:

  • who you’re as a company
  • what you can offer the client; and
  • how your offering meets their needs better than your rivals

This creates a human connection that tells the prospect you understand their project requirements and shows enthusiasm about helping them reach their goals. 

Example RFP cover letter

We appreciate the opportunity to respond to your Request for Proposal (RFP) for [Project Description]. Our team at [Your Company Name] is excited about the possibility of working with [Client Company Name] and we believe that our qualifications make us the ideal partner for your project.

Our proposal includes [Brief Overview of the Key Features of Your Proposal, such as Methodology, Scope of work, Timelines, and Deliverables]. We have a wealth of experience in similar projects, as demonstrated by [Examples of Successful Projects].

At [Your Company Name], we're committed to excellence, delivering results that exceed our client's expectations. We understand that effective communication and collaboration are critical to achieving project success, and are dedicated to working closely with you to ensure that we deliver a solution that's tailored to your needs.

We're confident that our proposal showcases our commitment to providing the highest level of service and value to your company. Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to discussing our proposal with you in further detail.

2. Executive summary

The executive or problem summary is a high-level overview summarizing the most crucial parts of your proposal. It proves your company is qualified (and the best option) to meet their needs. 

Focus on the prospect’s unique “asks.” For example, if the prospect wants a solution with flexible pricing, mention you have both annual and monthly plans—or that you offer a generous free trial. 

To effectively address your customers’ biggest concerns in the summary, you need accurate information that helps you speak directly to the customer. 

Consider the following questions to start:

  • Why did the prospect issue the RFP?
  • Was it because their last supplier failed to deliver? 
  • Are they simply looking to add more suppliers to accommodate their business’s growing needs?

Think of the executive summary as your elevator pitch that should hook the prospect and makes them go, “Okay, this company knows what we want.“ Keep it within one page and use bullets to help the prospect absorb information faster.

Example RFP executive summary

As a top player in the [Client's Industry] offering [Client's Main Service], you're well aware of the difficulties your customers face during this time of year. At [Your Company Name], we recognize the importance of delivering exceptional results at an average cost of $[Total Sum Amount] to support your mission of [Client's Mission Statement].

As these challenges become increasingly common, we believe that providing customers with a solution that's driven by the latest knowledge and expertise in [Your Industry] is more important than ever. 

Our goal is to help [Client Company Name] by:

• [Client-focused benefit #1]
• [Client-focused benefit #2]
• [Client-focused benefit #3]

3. Deliverables and implementation plan

This is the meaty part of your RFP response.

Go into detail about your implementation plan and/or the deliverables you plan to produce for the prospect. 

Also, mention the team members the client will work with and the things you’ll need from them (for example, training timelines, user roles, and process documentation) to ensure a successful engagement.

Dig deeper into how you’re going to meet the prospect’s needs, but also be crystal clear about the requirements you cannot fulfill. Transparency goes a long way.

RFP deliverables example

As outlined in the executive summary, our proposed deliverables, order of operations, division of labor, and projected completion dates aim to provide benefits to [Client Company Name]. These operations are expected to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction throughout our [length of project or proposed contract] partnership. 

Note that the following items are not included in the deliverables presented below:

• [Product/service not included]
• [Product/service not included]
• [Product/service not included]

Please refer to the table below for a breakdown of our proposed deliverables, team members assigned to each, start dates, and deadlines:

4. Pricing and contract terms

Create a pricing table breaking down the price by deliverable and included add-ons and services if any. Mention the service name, included deliverables, and the total cost for each.

Give the prospect a solid plan for what's to be done and how much it’ll cost them. Additionally, justify the cost by explaining what they get for each item on the list and how it’ll contribute to their business’s ROI. For example: 

  • total money saved
  • percentage of sales/leads increased
  • inefficiencies eliminated/efficiency gained

This is super important: provide accurate and transparent pricing quotes. Use clear language to avoid any confusion. Not only will this build trust, but also make the prospect more likely to consider your company for future requirements.


[Your Company Name] is incredibly excited to work with you to help [Client's Company Name] in addressing [Client Challenges Mentioned in Executive Summary]. 

Here's a brief overview of the services included in this partnership:

Dock's Pricing Quotes let you embed interactive pricing tables and order forms into your RFP proposal.

5. Additional product information

This part of your RFP response serves as a library to give the prospect any information they may need to determine your solution’s suitability for their needs. You can also include demo recordings, meeting recordings, and mutual action plans.

However, don't just send additional product information as email attachments or links on the side of your proposal.

It's possible the prospect may miss it. For example, if you send an RFP proposal and a demo link in the email, the buying team may never see that demo link. Luckily, you can use Dock to embed content within the RFP response itself. This ensures anyone who sees the proposal sees the additional information as well.

At Dock, we share our ROI breakdown and cost savings case study in every sales workspace.

6. Social proof

The purpose of responding to an RFP is to win the deal, so you should include anything that strengthens your case and makes you stand out from the other responses. 

Highlight references from companies you‘ve worked with in the past or continue working with professionally. Add testimonials or case studies that give the prospect more insight into your experience and see measurable results you achieved for clients. 

You can also include awards and certifications your company has won to gain a competitive edge.

Embedding case studies and videos in your RFP response adds immediate social proof

RFP response best practices and tips to improve win rates

Your RFP response should show and convince the prospect you’re absolutely the best choice for them. 

Here are a few best practices and tips you can apply when responding:

1. Qualify every RFP opportunity

Many organizations make the mistake of wasting time and resources writing proposals for opportunities they don’t qualify for. Don’t be like them—have the confidence to walk away from deals you're unlikely to win. 

Qualify each opportunity by identifying whether you have a strong buyer champion who can convince the client from the inside. 

This person is someone from the client’s team who stands to benefit from the arrangement (for example, learns a new skill or gets a promotion) and is influential enough to sway the purchasing decisions in your favor.

Here are a few more questions to qualify opportunities:

  • Is the prospect serious about the opportunity, or are they using the RFP for benchmarking or other reasons?
  • Does the opportunity align with your long-term business goals?
  • Do you have a genuine shot at winning the deal?
  • Does your team have the capacity to take on the project?

There’s no shame in focusing on safer bets. Dedicate your time to opportunities you know a lot about and feel confident about winning. 

Tip: If you’re looking for a great sales qualification framework, check out the Sandler Selling System or MEDDIC sales methodology.

2. Identify key decision-makers and stakeholders

To win traditional enterprise deals, your RFP response has to do more than just impress the main point of contact. It'll need to win over the entire organization, including the COO, CFO, IT heads, and other decision-makers who have a stake in your solution.

Here’s the main challenge: your buyer may not always make the stakeholders obvious.

To overcome this obstacle, get the organizational chart of your enterprise buyer for account mapping. Identify all potential influencers, blockers, and champions, and then build a strategic plan for how you’re going to multithread into their organization

Work with your champion to do thorough research on each stakeholder.

  • Who are they?
  • What are their values?
  • What are the KPIs for their role?

This will allow you to present your product or service in a way that makes sense to each stakeholder. 

Once you better understand the stakeholders and decision-makers, put the requirements outlined in the RFP into context. Make sure your response directly engages with the specifications and addresses each one of them with a concise, clear answer.

3. Avoid sending static PDFs 

Attaching static PDFs to your RFP response does nothing to make you stand out. Not only are they hard to edit or update once published (creating more work for you down the line), but it’s likely the RFP issuer may not read them at all.

Even the World Bank acknowledges that nearly one-third of its downloadable PDFs have never been downloaded. Yes, not even once. As the data marketing experts at Pricenomics conclude, “the lesson we should all probably be learning from the World Bank’s overly honest look at itself is that PDFs are terrible.“

So what should you do instead? 

Instead of using a static PDF, create a dynamic workspace or digital sales room to share relevant proposal content and deliverables and provide a more interactive and unique experience to the RFP issuer. 

Check out Dock's digital sales rooms

A cloud-based solution like Dock, for example, lets you:

  • Share and embed different types of media content to effectively communicate your product’s value to the client
  • Better collaborate with the client and champion, where you can update your workspace with new information instead of sending tons of email attachments and risking overwhelming them
  • Track engagement insights to guide your follow-up and drive customer success

All data is centralized in one place, so the client won’t have to waste time searching for different files and links. They can access anything from a single link removing any unnecessary friction and earning you brownie points.

4. Leverage templates and synced sections

If you’re replying to multiple RFPs that require similar answers, start from a template rather than starting from scratch every time.

With Dock, you can create a repeatable RFP response template that's easily customizable and shareable. In your template, include embedded content, mutual action plans, and quotes and order forms

You can use a Dock template to:

  • Personalize your response to reflect the client’s identity and needs
  • Detail the value your product can provide the client 
  • Keep team members in the loop
  • Track detailed engagement metrics to forecast interest 

💡Dock tip: You can use synced sections to scale your RFP responses. When you make a change to a synced section, it will update across all your RFP responses. For instance, you can always include your three latest case studies in a specific customer segment. You can use them to provide customers with accurate and relevant information to improve your chances of securing the deal. 

5. Personalize your RFP response 

While templates are handy, you can’t rely on completely templated RFP responses—personalization is still necessary to win.

Tailor your response based on the insights you learned about the decision-makers and stakeholders’ requirements, pain points, and values during research. This will immediately differentiate you from the competitors.

Be sure to provide specific answers and deliverables, as the client wants more than just a vague timeline. For example, go into detail about what the onboarding process and expected time-to-value look like. 

Here are a few additional ways to personalize your RFP response at scale:

  • Leverage variables in your template (e.g. the company name)
  • Create templated RFP responses for each customer segment (e.g. a template for selling to an HR team vs. a marketing team)
  • Personalize the content to the customer segment (e.g. case studies/testimonials from other customers in their niche)

💡Personalization tip: Dock's dynamic variables let you pre-populate your RFP responses with the account name, contact details, and more:

6. Involve SMEs and sales engineers

If you’re selling to bigger companies, you have to assure them your solution fits right in with their processes—or they won’t buy from you. 

Luckily, your sales engineer can use their expertise to better understand the client's specific challenges and propose solutions that best fit their needs. Use them to make customization recommendations, outline implementation plans, and provide detailed estimates.

Also, involve ‌subject matter experts (SMEs) early in the drafting process so that they have enough time to fact-check answers and provide technical feedback on how to move forward. Other team members can also assist with the research and requests to help the experts contribute to the scope of the project. 

7. Get ahead of security reviews with security profiles

Your prospective client may ask you to complete a security assessment as a part of your RFP response. You can contact your security team to answer specific technical questions and find security documents, but if they’re too slow to respond, you may end up losing the business opportunity. 

That’s where security profiles come into the picture. 

With Dock's pre-made security profiles, you can stay ahead of security reviews and avoid compliance obstacles. By uploading security documentation and FAQs to a secure space, your security admins can easily provide the necessary information to the sales team, who can then incorporate it into their RFP responses.

Check out Dock's security profiles

This way, your client will have all the information they need about your organization’s security posture, along with other deliverables like demo videos and pricing lists, without the need for any back and forth. 

8. Send regular follow-ups

After sending your final proposal, it’s important to follow up and ensure your proposal is getting the attention it deserves. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your proposal will stand out on its own, or that the client will take initiative to reach out to you. 

Rather take the time to follow up and engage with the client. 

One way to do this is to include a link to your RFP in your follow-up email. This serves as a reminder to the client, making it easier for them to review your proposal again and explore more about your company and its offerings.

When following up, be sure to personalize your message and provide additional information that may be relevant to the client. 

Our Dock experts always share a success story or case study when sending follow-ups to demonstrate our experience and expertise in a similar project or industry. This has nearly always gotten us a response from prospects.

RFP response software and tools

Here are the best RFP software and tools you can use to create and manage RFP documents and streamline proposal processes, increasing your chances of winning new business:


Dock's collaborative workspace offers a dynamic and effective alternative to static RFP submissions, increasing your chances of winning new business. 

With our content management/company templates or customizable RFP response template, you can save time and improve efficiency when responding at scale. Powerful analytics and insights allow you to track client engagement with your RFP, including who has accessed your workspace and which content they interact with the most. 

This enables you to tailor your follow-up and adjust your proposal to better meet your client's needs.

Dock also offers robust security features, including security profiles with clickwrap NDAs and access restrictions based on specific email domains. This ensures that only authorized individuals can view your proposal, making it ideal for organizations that handle sensitive or confidential information.

In addition to these features, Dock provides tools to improve collaboration and build scalable sales processes, enhancing the customer experience beyond the initial proposal. 


RFPIO is a feature-packed RFP automation system with high-quality import and export functionality, project management solutions, and a dynamic repository. It makes a great choice for companies that send out RFP responses in large volumes and would benefit from a highly automated system with numerous customizations and options for custom quotes. 

The tool offers an "at-scale" solution with various moving parts that streamline the entire process, making it more efficient and time-saving. But it won't give you Dock's personalized and content-heavy approach, so RFPIO may not be the best option if your priority is personalization.


Loopio is another proposal management tool that centralizes and automates your RFP responses.

A Smart Library provides your team members with the information they need to improve response quality, while the collaborative project workspace makes it easy to tap into your colleagues' expertise and add more depth to your responses.

A host of intelligent automation tools eliminate tedious tasks and maximize time. If you're looking for more hands-on help with your proposal tool, you'll find Loopio a good choice. But since it's a relatively new tech, it does have glitches and bugs.

Close more deals with with Dock 

Dock helps prospects understand the value of your business. 

In addition to being a workspace to sell effectively, it also creates a dynamic environment where you can discuss and collaborate with the client, giving you unprecedented access to their thinking process. You can truly own and design your brand’s client experiences to make maximum impact.

To learn more about how Dock simplifies RFP responses, try Dock for free today.

The Dock Team