After weeks of hard work, the response deadline is nearing and it will be time to submit the proposal you and your RFP team have been working on. You’ve included all the details, double-checked the numbers, and personalized your proposal. Before you submit your proposal, ask yourself: did I write a personalized proposal cover letter?
What Is a Proposal Cover Letter?
A proposal cover letter is a one-page letter that is addressed to your prospective bid requester. It contains high-level information about your proposal. Cover letters are sometimes called RFP response cover letters, RFP cover pages, or bid proposal cover letters. The cover letter is an important aspect of your RFP. Personalizing it gives you the chance to introduce your business, your solutions, and show in a glance how your business is best suited to the RFP you’re responding to.
To save time, it might be tempting to use a standardized or generic cover letter; however, by doing so, you are losing an opportunity to make your proposal stand out from the crowd. Think about it this way: if most proposals are submitted with a generic letter, your personalized proposal letter makes your proposal even more memorable. It shows that your team has gone the extra mile and is completely up for the task at hand.
What to Include in an RFP Cover Letter?
Since a cover letter is only one page long, it’s important to include key details that are impactful and memorable in a concise manner. Not sure where to start? Consider including these key components:
- Introduce your company to the decision-makers and anyone else who might review your RFP
- Provide a brief overview of the company’s needs
- Clearly state why your business is uniquely qualified to win the RFP opportunity
- Express your vision for the future partnership
- Briefly explain how you can help the business reach its goals
- Be conversational, genuine, and confident
Even though personalization is important and helps you stand out, there are key components you may want to standardize as part of an RFP cover letter template. Make sure not to leave out:
- Addressees (and make sure everything is spelled correctly!)
- Brief greeting and introduction to your company
- Summary of RFP needs
- Your company’s broad qualifications
- Thank you and closing
5 Tips for Personalizing an RFP Cover Letter
Address the Right People
When submitting an RFP letter, make sure it is addressed to the right people. Although it might seem obvious, note that several people might read it. Before you hit submit, do some online research (or go old school and pick up the phone) to find out who will be reviewing your RFP throughout the process. You might be surprised to learn that your RFP will be reviewed by more people than you expected.
To make each proposal stand out, submit a cover letter addressed to each individual participant. For example, if you are submitting to eight committee members, each member will receive a cover letter that addresses them by their name, rather than a generic ‘To whom it may concern’ or ‘Dear committee member’. The easiest way to do this is with variable data printing (VDP). VDP is printing that customizes each printed document by designating text and graphics that are specific to each recipient. Variable data printing allows you to personalize text fields and images without placing multiple orders just to get specialized versions of the same document.
Introduction and Greeting
Consider avoiding standard introductions or greetings and instead use an introduction that is specific to the company and the people who will read your letter. This demonstrates that you have done your homework and that it isn’t just another generic RFP response. It might be a small gesture, but it will showcase that you’ve personalized your proposal to the client.
Catch Their Eye with Design
RFPs usually call for specific and strict specifications, and varying from them in your response can sometimes cost you your bid. But an RFP cover letter has less strict requirements and offers a space for using enticing, tasteful design to help make your proposal more noticeable. Consider adding your company’s logo or even including your selling committee members’ pictures on the letter. Small design nods can really make an impression and add that personalized touch.
Address the Client’s Situation and Challenges
You have the entire proposal to explain how your company and its products are best suited to meet the client’s needs. Yet providing a succinct and digestible version of how you understand their unique challenges showcases that you have a clear understanding of their needs, and are able to address and solve them.
Provide Your Solution
After you discuss their unique challenges, don’t forget to briefly explain how you are going to solve them. Even if your solution is complex or requires a deeper understanding of technology, providing a simplified version of how your solution addresses their needs shows that you truly understand their RFP and are ready to help.
Highlighting your solution in a variety of ways can ultimately help clients remember your proposal more clearly than the rest of the competition. In Mimeo’s Talk of the Trade podcast, Eve Upton, a psychology enthusiast and bid winning consultant at BidCraft, explained it this way: “If there are certain words and phrases you want that reader to remember and associate with your quality, whatever it is, then use them frequently, put them in bold, use alliteration, do whatever you can to make that stick in their head.” Beginning to tap that psychological tip in the RFP cover letter can ultimately strengthen how your proposal lands.
Adding that personalized touch to your cover letter is an easy and impactful way to make your proposal stand out. To learn more about RFP best practices or how to personalize your entire RFP, check out our blog about increasing your win rates with personalization.