RFP Responses: Yes or No to a Letter of Introduction
On a regular basis, our RFP Response team gets asked: “should we or shouldn’t we include a Letter of Introduction with our RFP submission – even if it isn’t requested by the RFP issuer?”
We answer this question with a resounding “Yes, yes you should include a letter of introduction”.
One of the RFP best practices that we exhort for RFP responders is to always include a Letter of Introduction (LoI) – whether the issuer asks for one or not.
This conclusion is based on direct feedback we’ve received from RFP issuers. Many of them have told us that each evaluator on a procurement team will receive a copy of the Letter of Introduction if a company bidding on the RFP response provides one with their proposal submission.
“Really?”, we asked issuers, “then why don’t you request it in the RFP?” They said that “overall, we assume every company that sends out any kind of proposal (formal or unsolicited) will be accompanied by a letter of introduction – that’s just business protocol”.
They also told us that the only time they absolutely don’t want to receive a separate Letter of Introduction is when the introductory requirements are included as a mandatory requirement.
What Happens to Your RFP Response Once You Hit the Submit Button
Once the RFP submission deadline closes, all of the RFPs submitted are sent to the procurement teams’ lead evaluator. He/she has numerous people assigned to their evaluation team.
The team lead will separate the RFP responses submitted into specific sections. Each member of the issuer’s evaluation team receives one or more section to review and grade – based on the RFPs criteria. And, at this step, each individual also receives a copy of your letter of introduction.
Understanding this, makes including a letter of introduction much more relevant.
It means that every member on the RFP evaluation team will read your Letter of Introduction prior to even opening up your company’s RFP proposal (or the competitions) for review. This gives your company a tremendous advantage:
It allows your Letter of Introduction do some very important and vital up-front work for you
Some of your RFP competitors might not even provide a LoI
Getting the evaluators to say “wow” even before they review your full RFP response is a great opportunity. Especially, if one of your goals is to gain the evaluators trust early in the RFP process (which it should be).
Your Letter of Introduction can help by clearly articulating:
Your company fully understands the issuers organization’s needs (as related to the RFP)
You clearly state the reason “why” you are competing for the contract
We suggest viewing the Letter of Introduction as wrapping your RFP proposal up with a great big bow on it. Real people will be reading it – it should be meaningful and true. No marketing fluff or unsubstantiated statements needed.
What to Include in Your RFP Response Letter of Introduction
The LoI should introduce your company in the most professional manner possible
It should be written on company letterhead, maximum one-page in length and hand signed by the highest authority within your organization (or hand-signed by the Team Lead responsible for implementing the contract when awarded)
List the title, email and telephone contact information of whoever is signing the letter
Make the LoI personal. Address it to the procurement manager responsible for releasing the RFP
Include details of the registered RFP number and the issuing organizations name
Include a summary statement (maximum one paragraph) about what makes your company better and meaningfully different from the competition – related to this particular RFP
Provide a short ‘company story’ that is both compelling and worth remembering. This should be the “why” someone would want to do business with you.
Include a statement about ‘keeping the proprietary information contained in your RFP proposal confidential’.
What Not to Include in the RFP Letter of Introduction
Also, avoid typo’s and grammatical errors. Your letter of introduction is making a first impression. Make sure it is perfect.
RFP Letter of Introduction Summary
Providing a letter of introduction is an RFP response best practice. Everyone on the evaluation team will get a copy. For some, this may be their first introduction to your organization. By making it perfect, relevant and customer focused the letter of introduction represents an immediate opportunity to ensure your RFP response stands out from the competition.
Edward Watson is based in Calgary, Alberta. Ed loves complex documentation, and is equally comfortable writing RFI/RFP/RFQ responses to developing thousand-page project execution plans to creating user manuals and even writing poetry!