How to Write an RFP for Consulting Services: 7 Tips

By MBO Partners | September 8, 2022

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consultants working at desk

Outline project, budget and scope of work so that both parties understand the project criteria.

Define the project’s goals and metrics to set clear project boundaries.

Affirm clear deliverables with submission requirements.

Most firms working with consultants, contractors, freelancers and other 1099s will use an RFP (Request for Proposal) to set the tone and guidelines for what is expected to complete an assignment. Clients are more comfortable with engaging a contractor when they outline and understand what needs to be delivered by the consultant. Moreover, consultants will understand what is expected of their deliverables.

When writing and RFP for consulting services, follow these seven tips:

1. Provide Background Information

Before you define what your consultant will be doing, set the stage for them first. Give them information about who they are working for. Set your consultants up for success by providing context. You should outline details about who you are as a company and how you define success.  

Example: Meows-a-Lot, Inc. is a video software company specializing in creating cat videos for aspiring cat influencers. 

2. Outline the Project

Giving your consultants the project’s overall needs sets expectations for both parties. This brief introduction is crucial because it sets up what is needed and why these services are crucial to the company’s success.  

Example: Meows-a-Lot, Inc. seeks a consultant to help optimize their cat video content to increase engagement. 

3. Describe Your Scope of Work

Describe your scope of work in as much detail as possible so that your consultants are aware of how much time they will be investing into this project. Define what is expected of them, so there is no room for error. The more detailed you are at this stage, the better you will see your consultant’s work concerning your expectations.  

Example: The scope of work includes creating an engagement campaign to support Meows-a-Lot, Inc.’s successful video content. 

4. Define Goals, Metrics and Current Roadblocks

After you provide your consultants with context and outline the project, it’s time to set goals. It’s essential to set goals before a project before any agreement is made because it sets everyone up for success. Knowing a project’s goals before, during and after a project keeps everyone on track for a successful project.  

Example Project Goals: 

  • Increase Engagement 
  • Complete Engagement Campaign  
  • Submit Engagement Report 

Goals should be paired with relevant metrics that will define how success is measured. Without metrics, goals can be defined by the consultant instead of the company. 

Example Project Metrics: 

  • Engagement is defined by views, comments and likes 
  • Success is defined by a 5% increase in all engagement metrics  

Telling your consultants what roadblocks there are to the company’s current strategies helps provide relevant context to your consultant’s project. This practice aids in telling the whole story of why an outside consultant is needed on the project.  

Example Project Roadblock: Meows-a-Lot, Inc. used to have an average of 2,000 views per video in 2020. After a 2021 video algorithm change, the company has seen a -2% dip in video views.   

5. Define Your Budget

After you have set goals and outlined how much work is expected of your consultant, define how much this work will cost the company. A well-defined budget will help the consultant decide whether to take the project and fit nicely into a company’s overall budget. 

Example: Meows-a-Lot, Inc. has a budget of $10,000 to increase video awareness, engagement and reach this year. Since the company wants to focus on engagement this year, it will allocate $5,000 for this project. 

6. Include Submission Requirements

This is a more detailed outline of what is required of the consultant. Written documentation of what is expected from the consultant helps define boundaries so that the consultant understands the deliverables expected by the company.  

Example Submission Requirements: 

  • One-page campaign description: how will you deliver results? 
  • Campaign execution: what did you do?  
  • Campaign report: how did the campaign perform?  

7. Review and Send

Always proofread your RFPs before you send them out to consultants. This helps protect your company’s reputation in the freelance marketplace and promotes other consultants’ desire to work with your company. Make sure to look over your RFP and have a second set of eyes on it before you send it to potential consultants.  

When you follow these simple steps, you set your company and consultant up for campaign success. This outline will protect your company’s reputation and help current and future consultants’ projects. Perfecting this process might take trial and error; however, great consultants find great companies using well-thought-out RFPs. 

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