Writing a great RFx isn’t always enough to ensure you’ll get the quality vendor responses you imagined or as many responses as you need to run a thorough procurement process. No matter how skillfully you’ve worked to develop your document, you may need to do some extra outreach to make sure that it lands with the right vendors and attracts a great response. If you find yourself in the unpleasant situation of having an RFI or RFP without many responses as your response deadline approaches, here are a few tips on how to generate more interest.
- It’s ok to nudge
It’s easy for emails to get lost or to go unacknowledged. If you’ve reached out to a vendor with a link to your RFI or RFP and haven’t heard back, don’t hesitate to follow up with a friendly reminder. Depending on how many responses you’ve already received, you can consider adding a note to the effect that “x number of responses have already come in,” to encourage vendors to get organized and respond.
- Do more than post to a website
Many organizations have a portion of their website where they list all open RFIs and RFPs. In some cases, government agencies or other public entities are required to list their RFPs publicly. While some vendors know to check these websites, others, especially vendors you may not have done business with in the past, may be less familiar with the process and thus miss the postings entirely. Of course, you’ll want to have an equitable notification plan up front so as to ensure a level playing field, but you may want to prepare a list of potential vendors and notify them at the same time as you post on a website.
- Promote your RFx beyond email
You may also need to promote your RFx beyond email. Depending on the product or service you’re looking to buy, it may be easier or harder to find vendor email contacts. If you’re struggling in this department, rely on other channels to reach potential contacts who may be interested in your RFI or RFP. You might consider calling sales phone numbers to get in touch with a representative directly, and identifying and reaching out to relevant contacts via LinkedIn or other social networks.
- Reach out to resellers and distributors
Resellers and distributors can add additional layers of complexity in a purchasing transaction and you may prefer to deal solely with original equipment manufacturers. However, in other cases, they can provide a helpful addition to your list of vendors. Resellers often have a catalog of suppliers and can coordinate one (or multiple) responses to your RFI or RFP.
- You can always extend your deadline or issue a new RFI or RFP
Although it may not be your preference, don’t forget that you can always extend the response deadline for your RFI or RFP. To do so, you’ll need to retract your published RFx. Once you’ve done so, you can select “publish” again and adjust the deadline date for responses. Don’t forget to send a follow up email to anyone you’ve previously contacted with a brief message noting the extended deadline. This is more common in the case of an RFI (as you’re seeking information about a potential purchase) and with an RFP you should ensure you’re following all of your institutional policies.
We hope that helps generate great vendor responses so that you are on your way to a successful new purchase! At Popcorn RFP, our goal is to help you do RFPs faster, smarter, and collaboratively. Send us an email and let us know how we can help with your next RFP project!