Expert Advice

10 Tips for Successful Proposals

Finding contracting opportunities is the first step. Whether it is federal, state, or local agency procurement, you will be faced with a decision to participate or not. It’s a common challenge facing small business owners. How do you move quickly and meet deadlines while also dedicating enough time to reviewing your RFP in a timely manner?

It’s a constant balancing act. The success of your business depends on how well you respond to an RFP and win contracts. Here are 10 tips and best practices for ensuring an effective review process for a successful response to an RFP:


1. Read the RFP in its entirety.

2. Check the minimum qualifications or requirements for proposers. Don’t waste your time if you do not meet the minimum qualifications or if you do not meet the requirements of the RFP. Your time is valuable and there will be other opportunities.

3. Pay close attention to the dates and times of deadlines listed in the RFP and/or amendments.  It will be the proposer’s responsibility to retrieve/acknowledge amendments or may be deemed non-responsive.

4. Proposers can submit questions as specified in the RFP.  Do not make any assumptions regarding the solicitation.  If it is unclear, submit a question and make sure you meet the Q&A submittal deadline.  Do not ask questions or discuss the contents of the RFP with anyone other than the RFP’s contact person identified in the RFP.

5. Review Scope of Work and Deliverables. The technical evaluation score is mainly based on your work plan approach, qualifications, and experience in the scope of work. The selection is not based on the lowest cost but rather on the most qualified proposer to deliver the work.

6. Be sure to review the sample contract form and required insurance limits enclosed within the RFP and/or amendments.

7. Recheck your response for accuracy prior to submitting the RFP response.

8. The proposal should be packaged and submitted per the proposal submission requirements, format, and content section of the RFP.  Provide the required number of copies as well as the required CDs or Flash Drives.

9. Be sure to sign and/or initial your response in all required sections and included all the required attachments/forms.   

10. Lastly, emphasis should be concentrated on conformance to the RFP instructions, responsiveness to the requirements, completeness, and clarity, while providing competitive pricing and services.


Submitting quality, competitive bids takes practice; don’t be discouraged if your first tries are unsuccessful. Keep going!

For help interpreting solicitations and for guidance on your proposals, contact your Procurement Specialist or sign up for Norcal PTAC services here.


Written by:

Liz Brazil

Norcal PTAC Procurement Specialist