Responding to a Request for Proposal (RFP) from a Prospective Client

Dr. Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov

Small businesses often receive a Request for Proposal or “RFP” from large clients inviting them to submit a bid to work on a certain project or provide services.  There are a number of online resources providing tips to prepare a well-written RFP response.  From a legal standpoint, here are two important issues to think about in your RFP response

1.  Disclaimer.  Many RFPs state that the responding business is bound by all the information provided in the RFP response.  Keep in mind that throughout the negotiation process, you may receive additional details from the prospective client that can affect the information/pricing provided in your response.  Disclaimer language such as the paragraph below should be included in you RFP response to protect your business:

The information and pricing data submitted by YOUR BUSINESS in response to the PROSPECTIVE CLIENT’S RFP is non-binding and for evaluation purposes only and is subject to adjustment or modification by YOUR BUSINESS after its review, consideration, and negotiation of the terms and conditions of a definitive final contract.

2. Confidentiality.  Remember to safeguard the information you are sharing about your business and its capabilities as well as the price quotes in an RFP response.  Make sure your RFP response includes Confidentiality language such as:

All data and information contained herein and provided by YOUR BUSINESS in response to a PROSPECTIVE CLIENT’S RFP is considered confidential and proprietary.  The data and information contained herein may not be reproduced, published or distributed to, or for, any third parties without the express prior written consent of YOUR BUSINESS.

Most importantly, distinguish yourself from the competition but do not promise more than you can deliver in an RFP response.

Image by Flickr user dbking (Creative Commons)

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