You’ve received or stumbled upon an interesting looking RFP. Now the question is whether or not to respond. As a vendor, responding to an RFP involves a significant investment of time and resources. Figuring out when and where to invest these resources is paramount to running a successful business. It can be hard to know when to take the plunge.
The single best thing you can do to help navigate these decision points is to establish clear criteria about when and if to respond. By establishing these criteria up front, you will save time and effort where it’s not well spent, while zeroing in on the best opportunities for your particular niche. Although it’s tempting to respond to every RFP you see, you may want to take a pass on those that are simply not the right fit for your product or service.
Here are some criteria to consider:
- Is this RFP from an existing customer? What was it like working with them in the past, or what experiences have you had working with similar organizations?
- Is this the right industry for you? Does it align with your existing experience or future goals?
- Do you understand the scope of what the issuer is looking for? If not, are there opportunities to ask questions before responding?
- Do you have the skills and experience to deliver what the issuer needs?
- Does the stated timeline work for you? This includes the timeline of responding to the RFP before the stated deadline.
- Have you provided products or services to a similar company in the past? Can you provide references?
- Do you believe your price will be in the realm of what the issuer is expecting?
- Are there obvious sources of competition you should be aware of? Look out for references to specific features you or a competitor are known for.
- What is the cost in time and money of responding to the RFP versus the potential payoff of a contract? Is this a good investment of resources for you right now?
- Can you win the contract?
In reviewing RFPs and considering whether to respond, you may also want to consider the following potential red flag: Did you know the RFP was coming, or did you stumble upon it? It is usually the case that at least one potential supplier has received the RFP directly, with warning. If this is not you, be aware of the competition and factor this into your decision about whether or not to respond.
We hope this guide helps get you started. The exact criteria you choose will of course depend on your organization and its goals. Popcorn RFP is purpose-built software designed to support organizations throughout the RFP life-cycle and save time and money for vendors in creating and submitting responses. If you are working with an organization that needs to issue an RFx, we hope you’ll recommend Popcorn RFP!