For Better or for Worse? RFP’s

Baskar Sundaram
Baskar Sundaram

In today’s buying market an RFP is integral in the process. An RFP outlines what services are required by the buyer; various sellers are then able to respond on how they will best satisfy those needs. All of this happens on various online platforms. People are trained specifically on how to handle their RFP, when to use one, what they need done, and when they need it done by. This seems fairly straightforward and very effective, yet very mechanical. If everything is laid out in black and white there is no room for discussion or opportunity for the supplier to offer other solutions that may be even better than what is requested. Impersonalizing the process prevents bias when culling the potential sellers, yes, but an RFP is not effective enough to replace a good old fashioned discussion.  Although one seller may seem good on paper, once spoken to, you may find another seller better suits your company’s needs.

When designing an RFP it may be tempting to overload it with any and all information that seems pertinent but, this may be detrimental. Suppliers in high-demand may have enough projects happening to justify not wasting their company resources sifting through endless RFP’s. This leaves less-qualified desperate companies responding.

When posing questions on an RFP it is useless to ask about competitors, or weaknesses as they would never actually name them and risk losing potential business. These types of questions result in “fluff” answers. Rather, one must pose questions that help vet if the supplier is able to satisfy the needs of the business. On the other hand one can also not assume that suppliers are always desperately looking to work for anyone with an opportunity. The buyer should put forth an interesting proposition and maintain an open line of communication. They can make the best RFP’s by having a diverse team who focus on making well-balanced and insightful RFP’s. The RFP should make the supplier want to work with you while also giving you an insight into their capabilities. It should give the supplier some space to present their ideas as well, and their financial positions. This will elicit quality responses from the supplier and give your company the most success.

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