Understanding the RFP Process

A Request For Proposal can seem intimidating, but this article will help you understand the RFP process, what it entails, and the different types of RFPs. Here’s an overview of everything you need to know about the RFP process.

What Is an RFP?

An RFP is basically a formalized way of requesting specific kinds of services and products from a group of pre-qualified vendors. A Request for Proposal is a business term that refers to an offer that a prospective client sends out. This can be thought of as a very formal, written way of saying I have money and I need someone with experience in something to do X for me.

An RFP tends to be more efficient than competitive bidding since it allows parties on both sides, supplier, and buyer, to compare notes beforehand. Another benefit is that it eliminates vendors who don’t have what you need.

Types of RFP Requests

There are two types of requests for proposal (RFP) that business owners may receive: solicited and unsolicited. Unsolicited RFPs are sent by a client or potential partner when they have an immediate need and don’t want to wait for a sales rep’s monthly proposal. On the other hand, Solicited proposals come as a response to a specific request.

In either case, it’s important that clients know exactly what they want in their new product or service. It’s also important that sales reps know precisely how they will be evaluated in order to earn the sale. If any details of an order are unclear or if there is confusion about how you will be paid, do not move forward with an agreement. It could lead to costly legal issues later on down the road.

When Do Businesses Use an RFP?

Many organizations use an RFP process when they want to know exactly what a vendor’s going to provide before making a long-term commitment. In addition, businesses use an RFP process so they can compare multiple potential vendors in one go rather than engaging in an informal negotiation with each individual company.

For instance, if you were looking for a new cloud storage provider, you could send an RFP out and receive responses from multiple potential partners. Then, you could review their proposals and decide which partner best fits your needs. Here are three steps of an effective RFP

Important Steps in the RFP Process

Here are the steps of an effective RFP process;

1. Identify key requirements
2. Identify target vendors
3. Add weighting to different factors
4. Solicit bids
5. Evaluate bids/assessments
6. Make recommendations/select supplier
7. Manage communication flow
8. Finalize the contract

Is the RFP Process Necessary and Effective?

In most instances, the RFP process is inclined towards finding a buyback company that offers the best price. However, this process can have adverse consequences if you fail to ask the right questions and when you base your focus on the price.

To put this into perspective, let’s say a school is looking for a buyback company to buy their old computer devices. They start the RFP process and request companies to submit their bids. Intuitively the company that will offer the best prices will win the bid. To trap the school into a deal, the buyback company can increase their grade A prices, knowing very well few devices will fall under that category. As a result, the school will end up getting less than they had predicted.

The best way to avoid such a scenario is to shift from traditional RFP processes to a more question-based process. That way, you’ll have good criteria to evaluate bids. Here are some of the questions to ask a buyback company before partnering with them;

1. Having seen our devices, how will you grade them, and what are your prices for each grade category? This question will enable you to know how much you will likely get by working with a particular buyback partner.

2. Do you use the same rubric with all your partners, and can you share the grading system? This enhances transparency in that transaction.

3. Do you have the relevant credentials to support your ability to erase our data? This enables you to be sure that your sensitive data won’t get into the wrong hands. More so, it ensures that you work with a credible company that has been certified by the relevant authorities in the industry.

4. Can you provide references for your previous clients? This ensures that you’re able to verify if indeed the companies offer quality services as they claim in the RFP.

5. Do you provide other services that facilitate the trade-in process?

Keep in mind that the RFP process can be more time-consuming and extensive process than just quickly vetting an experienced Buyback company from the start. As you weigh your options, be sure to consider this laid-out RFP process.