How to Attract Proposals from the Right Vendors with a Well-Written Request for Proposal
A Request for Proposal (also called an RFP) is a document your company releases when you need services, goods, or assets from an outside vendor. The document asks vendors to bid for your business.
An RFP outlines what your company is looking for and when you need it. While RFPs may vary greatly, there are some key components. An RFP should include:
Description of who your company is
What you are looking to solve
What obstacles are in the way
What the deliverables will be (A deliverable is a product, service, or capability provided to the client as part of the project.)
Timetable of deliverables and deadlines
Criteria by which a vendor will be chosen
Requests for references from similar projects
Defined format for them to use to write their proposals that will be easy for you to read and compare
Point of contact
Deadline for the proposal to be submitted by
Writing a great RFP is about the clarity of communication. Whether your project is big or small, explore your goals for this undertaking and state them as clearly as possible. The more accurately you can communicate your needs, the better chance you will have for excellent results.
Tips to Write Your Request for Proposal
A well-developed RFP can be the difference between receiving multiple proposals that fit the bill and having to struggle to find the right match for your project. Following these tips will help you find the perfect vendor for your company’s specific needs.
1. Know What You Need
What problem needs to be solved and/or what opportunity is available for your company? Give a detailed explanation of what you are trying to accomplish. How did this problem or opportunity come to be, and how is it impacting your company? What is the definition of success for their work? The more information the bidders have, the better they can determine how to best help you.
You may have already decided on what the best solution is. Great practice for writing your RFP (Request for Proposal) is to define what you know you want and leave an opportunity for vendors to find creative solutions for aspects you don’t have figured out yet.
2. Define Your Goals
In your RFP (Request for Proposal), be clear about what your long-term and short-term goals are for your company. Give an overall sense of the company’s mission and culture. How will the work your potential vendors will be doing fit into your organizational goals?
Sharing your goals will help them devise solutions that fit into your overall strategy as a business, not just for the issue at hand. Remember, you are hiring great minds for the well-being of your organization and building long-term relationships with your liquid workforce that will, hopefully, be mutually beneficial for years to come.
3. Share Your Budget
Know your budget and communicate it in your RFP (Request for Proposal). Many of us think that if we tell vendors what the budget is, that it puts us at a disadvantage. However, when everyone bidding is privy to that information, they can build in maximum value for you on a realistic budget and compete on that basis.
If the solution isn’t yet clear enough for you to determine a budget yet, let them know the level of quality you want. Use examples from other companies or different aspects of your own company to help communicate this more clearly.
4. Ask Questions
Delineating what you are looking for in a potential vendor can be challenging. It can help to build open-ended questions into the RFP (Request for Proposal) for the vendors to answer. The answers to these questions will help you determine which vendor(s) are the right fit. For example, “Describe your philosophy on Customer Service. What is a unique way your company can add value to this project that sets you apart?”
5. Be Succinct
While there is a lot of information you need to pass on and retrieve, it helps to keep in mind that brevity is key. If an RFP (Request for Proposal) is too long, it may put off potential vendors, and more importantly, it will take your company longer to evaluate each proposal as it comes in. Say what you need to say and ask what you need to ask in the shortest possible way. Excess terminology and a myriad of buzzwords will only serve to muddle the process. Keep it simple.
Download Liquid’s Independent Contractor Agreement Checklist as a handy reference guide.
6. Define Your Point of Contact
Hopefully, you’ve answered almost all of the questions that a vendor might need to know to complete their proposal properly. There will be times that there is still something that needs to be clarified and having a single defined point of contact (POC) for your RFP (Request for Proposal) will make this communication much more efficient. Let them know who this person is and give them their contact information.
Let them know that the POC would be more than happy to address any concerns – this will show that you are easy to work with and on the same team. You want their proposal to be top-notch, and you’re willing to give them all the particulars they need for them to provide you with what you’re looking for.
7. Establish Deadlines
Provide a timeline and deadlines for the project at hand. Breaking down the major deadlines with smaller deliverable deadlines helps keep a project on track and on budget. Issues can be nipped in the bud this way. Devise an outline for when the deliverables will be due, and in what order things will be done. If they need to build on each other, keep that in mind. Of course, remember to include deadlines for the RFP itself.
Now that you have a killer RFP (Request for Proposal), you are ready to disseminate it and bask in the plethora of thoughtful proposals that come back. When you’re ready to lock down your vendor, check back in to see how Liquid can help you effortlessly create an SOW (Statement of Work).
Note, we are not providing legal, tax, or payroll advice. Please consult your legal, tax, and payroll professionals. These are simply to serve as guidelines based on our own experiences.