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How to Find RFPs Online and Win Them, with Rob Williams

This talk is by Rob Williams, owner of Folyo.me, where he helps freelancers and agencies find and land design project.

If you’d like to get Rob’s slides from this talk, visit www.folyo.me/clientcon.

Video Timestamps

01:48 About Rob’s Background
06:20 What attendees want from ClientCon
08:50 Case study: what it took to win a $10k+ RFP
12:00 What You Should Expect With RFPs
13:20 Case study: what it took to win a $100k+ RFP
36:10 Finding RFPs on LinkedIn
41:45 Finding RFPs on Google
52:15 Finding RFPs on RFPDB
53:50 How to Start Finding RFPs Yourself
55:33 What Goes Into a Good RFP
56:53 RFP Conversation Starters
1:00:20 How to Follow Up
1:02:40 RFP Proposal Template
1:08:24 Tips for Writing Your RFP
1:15:49 Q+A

Case Studies: How to Win RFPs

Client wanted to find a $120/hour, full time contractor and originally planned to hire in a week. 50 people replied to the original RFP, then it took a few weeks for the client to choose a contractor. By then, only one person was in touch with the client, so they won the project.

In another case, Rob had a client who won a $100k+ project. The key thing they did was engage with the client before writing the RFP. It was the biggest project they’d ever won!

When he polled his audience, Rob found that there was a big difference in income between those who remained active by emailing prospects, and those who don’t. Here’s the graph:

What You Should Expect With RFPs

If you want to win more RFPs, you really need the right expectations. That means understanding that it’ll take between 10 and 30 proposals to win a new client. The good news is that’s just one proposal a day. In order to reach that level of volume, you’ll need the infrastructure in place to quickly adapt your proposals to meet the requirements of RFPs that fit well within your niche.

Finding RFPs on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best sources of RFPs for Rob. His approach to finding RFPs on LinkedIn is pretty simple:

  • Search for “rfp” plus your area of focus (i.e. marketing, social media, accounting, whatever it is that you do)
  • Click the “content” modifier after you search
  • Sort by “most recent” instead of “most relevant”

Now you’ll have a list posts people have made to LinkedIn, and sometimes they even include a PDF for the RFP itself right on their LinkedIn post.

Finding RFPs on Google

The next big source of RFPs is Google. Yeah, that’s right, a simple Google search can be a fountain of potential clients for you. The process is very similar to what finding RFPs on LinkedIn:

  • Search for “rfp” plus your area of focus 
  • Add the modifier to “filetype:pdf” to your search to return PDF results
  • Add the time modifier so you search within just the last 30 days

How to Start Finding and Winning RFPs Yourself

If you’d like to add RFPs to your sales and marketing strategy, approach first as a 30-day experiment, then outsource it. 

Over the first 30 days, figure out which sources and searches yield the best results. You should look for the quality of the RFPs, the types of companies that are posting, the timing of the RFP so you have enough time to respond, and the budget. Whatever you look for in terms of fit, pay attention to the sources that yield the best results. 

Once you start finding good RFPs, invite those clients into conversations and, eventually, you’ll begin your sales process. If you don’t yet have a sales process, feel free to use the SDS Method.

RFP Conversation Starters

Before going to the trouble of writing an RFP, invite the client to respond to you. This serves two purposes: 1) it creates some familiarity and exchange between you and a total stranger, and 2) it serves as a filtering mechanism so you can avoid writing proposals for clients who won’t even respond to a quick email. 

Rob included several conversation starters in his talk:

Sending a proposal isn’t enough – you also have to follow up! Rob recommends three or four follow ups, spaced out a week apart. I always find it funny that people go to the trouble of writing a proposal, which usually takes several hours, then don’t follow up, which only takes two minutes. So just follow up, will you?

RFP Proposal Template and Tips

If you’d like a proposal template for your next RFP, make sure to check out Rob’s site. It details the different proposal sections to include, has some copy you can see (or steal), and goes through the reasoning of why each section is so important. 

The article includes tips, like how to make your proposal writing faster. 

Check out Rob’s RFP proposal template now. 

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