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A request for proposal often goes by a simpler acronym called an RFP. If an organization has a problem or an upcoming project, but do not have the required resources, they seek the support of an external vendor. In order to find the vendor(s), they “float” an RFP. Vendors who can perform the required skills or provide the right products respond to the RFP with a business proposal.
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Releasing or floating an RFP is one of the most common ways to find external partners or resources for government and commercial organizations. The process is often mandatory for government.
Usually, other documents precede the RFP, including the RFQ and RFI. An RFQ is a request for a quotation, and an RFI is a request for information. An RFQ requests the price of a specific set of products or services and an RFI generally requests answers to a questionnaire.
The RFP is way more detailed with customer requirements that include problem statements, technical requirements, managerial requirements, project oversight details, and other information for prospective bidders to read. It is crucial to read the RFP carefully before responding with a bid to ensure all requirements are thoroughly understood. Leverage an RFP software to help you reduce time.
Proposal teams will sometimes submit one proposal after another to magically win a bid. Yet, that strategy seldom works and wastes time. Never respond to a bid without clearly understanding the customer or reading the RFP or doing your due diligence to qualify the opportunity.
The negative effects are momentous. If you win a bid that you cannot perform, your organization may be sued in a court of law. Moreover, it would not just cause financial stress to your organization, but it will reduce your company’s reputation.
Simply research and understand the customer, the RFP, the customer’s industry, your competition, and the requirements before submitting a proposal to avoid a grand scale catastrophe.
It is better to debate a question without settling it than to settle a question without debating it- Joseph Joubert
Ask the Customer
During the RFP response process, customers will allow you to ask questions about the RFP over email, telephone, or during a bidder’s conference. Be sure to review Q&A requirements because most RFPs require a specific format and schedule for asking questions to maintain fairness.
If you need clarity on anything in the RFP, never hesitate to ask or perform a search in your proposal management software. Designate a single point-of-contact, preferably the account or sales manager to ask or send questions on behalf of your company.
Responding to an RFP is a long and tedious task. Here are recommendations for responding to an RFP:
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