A Sample RFP Response Format (w/ Commentary)

sample RFP template


A little while back we posted an article about writing a reply to an RFP (Request for Proposal), which provided a basic outline for responding to potential clients.  Since then, we have received a lot of questions from the MRH community asking for details on formats to use as well as what sort of sections and content to include.  So, we wanted to give you more detail on how to draft a basic business proposal.  A similar flow and template can be used if you’re replying to a Request for Quote (RFQ), or even a Request for Information (RFI).

In the below sections, we will walk through a sample format and some key sections that you might want to include in your RFP response.

[Cover Page]

A clean and simple Cover Page is always a good way to give your proposal a professional image and first impression to the customer.

1. Table of Contents

Depending on the length of your proposal, you may want to include a Table of Contents to help the reviewer navigate and find particular information of interest.

2. Introduction

A general introduction is always a good idea. Briefly state the purpose of the document, as well as its contents. Summarize what the reader will see on the following pages.

3. Relevant Documents

A simple list of the relevant documents and revision levels on which your proposal is based can help ‘time stamp’ your proposal.  (Example: “RFP-1392-A RFP for Smith Company IT Support Contract, Revision A”).  Also include any industry documents that may be referenced elsewhere in your business proposal.

Get Our MRH ProGuide!

Developing an RFP and RFQ Response

This MRH ProGuide contains everything you need to know to help you develop solid responses to your customers’ RFPs and RFQs. This ProGuide is packed with tips on everything from formatting your document, to setting a capture strategy, to evaluating your competition.  It also includes a sample outline for your RFP Response as well as a printable checklist to help you review your RFP Response before submitting it to your client.

Length: 35 Pages (Color)
Format: PDF 
File Size: 501Kb
Price: $24.99
Download Link Made Available After Checkout
Buy Now
Get the RFP Response ProGuide Table of Contents:
RFP Response Contents
RFP Response Contents
Version: 1
176.1 KiB


4. Company Overview

A brief overview of your company helps your potential customer understand more about your firm, and compare it to other businesses making proposals.  This section should be short, but leave the reader with enough information to understand the size of your company, your markets, and types of other clients.

4a. Corporate Resume, Experience, Capabilities

Briefly mentioning your company’s experience and capabilities, particularly with relevant or similar projects, can strengthen your proposal’s position.  It should also help demonstrate that you have the ability to do the project at hand.

4b. Accreditations, Certifications, Memberships

Depending on your industry, a brief mentioning of your certifications can give your proposal added credibility and merit.


MRH Poll: Please Answer This Question in Support of our Management Research!

(Results Will Display After You Answer)


What was your biggest fear when you became a leader of people?
  • Delivering performance feedback to employees
  • Not being accepted by the team
  • Feeling like you needed to be the expert
  • Dealing with performance issues
  • Increasing workload and hours
  • Other

5. Organization and Execution

Consider including a section in your proposal that discusses how you will go about performing the work, the plan for internal oversight, your company’s project management processes, etc.

5a. Notional Organizational Chart

A notional organizational chart of the expected project team included in your proposal helps illustrate you have the proper staffing and understand the project’s scope.

5b. Biographies of Key Players on Team

A brief biography of the expected project team can strengthen your proposal by advertising the experience, education and qualifications of your staff.  Include a brief description of each team member’s experience, years in the industry, and educational achievements.

6. Approach

One of the main parts of your proposal in response to an RFP should be a section discussing your approach.  In this section, you should tell your potential client or customer how you will go about performing the work requested and achieving the final deliverables that are required.

RELATED: 7 Capture Strategies To Help You Win

6a. Project Management

Under you Approach section, detail out your Project Management plan, and how you will go about organizing and managing the effort.  Include any special processes or frameworks you use to run programs in your business.

6b. Communication

A section that touches on communication may be useful if the project is expected to go on for a while, and should you need recurring meetings with the customer.  Here, you might want to identify any standard communication plans you would offer, such as a weekly progress report, a periodic conference call, or on-site visits to your customer.

6c. Software Used

Depending on your field, you may want to consider including a section that identifies any special tools, or brand name software you use.  In some fields, this information may be of interest to the potential client.

6d. Assumptions

Including a list of the assumptions you’ve made as part of the basis for your proposal is always recommended.  Doing so documents the foundation for your proposal and committed work.  At some point, if there is an issue and the customer changes the rules during the project, the assumptions you state here can help you manage scope change in the future.  Keep it to the important stuff, no need to go over the top with every detail.

6e.  Compliance

As part of your approach section, consider including a segment on compliance.  In other words, how will you ensure what your customer is asking for in the RFP or RFQ will actually be delivered?

Get Management Tips from MRH By Email!

* indicates required

7. Deliverables

If the RFP that you’re responding to includes any stated deliverables, be sure to list them to show you acknowledge what is required as a final output.  Even if there are no specific deliverables listed or stated, it is good practice to identify artifacts that you will ultimately provide.  Examples include things like documents, reports, software or other digital information.

8. Schedule

Include a notional project or performance schedule in any response to an RFP.  Include an expected start date, or date when the contract is assumed to be awarded.  Bear in mind that some customers will have specific requirements and needs around schedule that you should factor into the schedule and planning you do.

9. Recommendations

In some situations, you might want to include recommendations to your potential client.  Based on the information provided in the original Request, including some initial suggestions or ideas for improvements can give you a leg up against the competition and showcase the value you can add to the client’s needs.

10. Service

If appropriate for your business, put a section in your RFP response that talks about what you will do after the work is done.  Will you provide support, service, or training? Is there a warranty period or something else that adds value to the customer?

11. Pricing

Money talks.  Your RFP response should include the pricing somehow.  In some cases, you may want to send a separate commercial letter that outlines the money aspects of the project.  Or, you may wish to include it in the RFP response itself.  The pricing information you supply should include a breakdown of payments and milestones, if appropriate, and your general payment terms.


The Key Takeaway…

The above paragraphs simply provide some ideas and suggestions for sections of our RFP response.  Regardless, you should keep your proposal to-the-point and relevant.  Minimize “fluff” and “filler information” that does not add value or strengthen your RFP response.  Everything in your proposal should have a purpose.  Modify, add and expand on sections as appropriate for your industry.  Ultimately, a clean, professional looking document that looks well-prepared will give the reader a good impression about your company and confidence that you can do the job.


Looking for More on Business Development?  You Might Like…

Writing a Winning Response to an RFP

What Your Customers REALLY Want

How to Manage Customers that Misbehave and Break Agreements







  • Thank you for this. It really lays out the RFP clearly.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Lee, glad we could help. Do let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!

      Tim G.
      The Manager’s Resource Handbook

      • Nav

        what should be the RFP response format if we are asking vendors/bidders about MHE(Material handling equipment) Forklifts etc

        • Hi Naveen,
          Thanks for the question! As far as the format, there’s really nothing different format-wise that I can recommend. I’m not in your industry, but I would suggest you curtail the input you request from suppliers as necessary. Meaning, if you’re seeking to purchase Forklifts, etc, there’s probably an aspect of warranty, inspection or service after purchase that you’d want to include. Additionally, with expensive equipment like this, you’ll likely want to ask the suppliers about things like their plan to provide spare parts, and maybe user training.

          I hope this helps,
          Tim G.
          The Manager’s Resource Handbook

  • Erin

    Is a response to an RFQ different from that of an RFP? I’m preparing to respond to RFQ that requests a quote for furnishing, delivery, and installation of a product. Should I treat this response like I would an RFP? Or should the response be less detailed since they are just requested a quote?

    Also, what is the best way to go about effectively addressing each section where they mention bid qualifications?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Erin,
      Great question! It really depends on the nature of your business. An RFQ is typically more aligned to a simple pricing quotation. For example, a hotel may issue an RFQ to purchase 100 televisions to upgrade their room facilities. By contrast, an RFP is often geared towards developing or doing something for your customer – they often have a layer of service to them. An example of this might be something like: your business issues an RFP to several construction companies to remodel your office space. That said, the terms are often used interchangeably from my experience, but a good rule of thumb is to make your response equal in length and nature to the request (If you receive a 1 page request, a short reply may be ok; if you get a long request with specifics and details, you should respond with a document that mirrors the request)

      From your description, it sounds like the request is more than just a simple pricing exercise as my television example would be, and you should treat it as an RFP. Even if there’s not much too the work your company would perform, including a document with a few pages describing what you would do for the price you seek, can help give you an edge.

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘bid qualifications’ but if it’s what I’m thinking, often times, companies want to know that you 1. have the experience and ability to do the work sought, and 2. have done it before. It’s really a risk assessment for them. Even if you don’t have the EXACT experience for a given section, try and identify something that is relevant in terms of the equipment, the scale of the project, etc. Also consider any certifications or special credentials your firm may have.

      I hope this helps!

      Tim G.
      The Manager’s Resource Handbook

      • Thank you so much for your response! This was quite helpful, and more than I expected. That’s exactly the route I’m taking with this upcoming RFQ. I figured it would be more attractive for the buyer, and I want this document to give the buyer the convenience of just enough information within the response package without drowning out the original request (often times, procurement officers don’t want to have to go out of their way to research the company and dig for more, so why not make their lives a little bit more easier?).

        Thank you, once again for your help!

        Big Shine Energy

  • Bobby

    Hello Tim,

    We are in Information Technology/Software Industry, We recently have a RFP to response to and we really need you help to put together a professional response for RFP.



    One (1) original (hard copy) and one (1) Copy for Qualifying and Functionality Evaluations – (clearly marked as original and copies)

    Can you please explain what the above really mean, Need your help with table of content possble sample of the Response to RFP with the Prices part.

    Hope to get your response on this, as am busy on the response currently.


    • Hi Bobby,

      I think the ‘Official Forms’ remark is important. The RFP should identify those forms, so be sure to use them. Sometimes, if those forms are not filled out, your bid will be disqualified automatically.

      Regarding the two copies, one is the original, meaning it has an actual signature on it. It sounds like the second can be a photocopy, and is intended for evaluation by others in the organization, who will review what you propose. Contact the client if you can to get clarification if needed.

      In terms of format, if the RFP or the Forms they mention do not have a specific format request, default to using a mirror image of the RFP document itself. In other words, address each section in the order of the RFP so they can clearly see you have fulfilled all requirement.

      If you want to talk specifics on pricing, email us at info@managersresourcehandbook.com and we can try to assist.

      Best of luck!
      Tim G.
      The Managers Resource Handbook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *