RFPs for Vendors: How the RFP Process Works

RFP process for vendors

Your organization has a service or product to sell. It’s time to respond to a client’s Request for Proposals (RFP) – don’t panic! Because The Bid Lab knows a thing or two about how RFPs work for vendors. So, let us get you started by breaking down the steps of the RFP process. By understanding how to correctly respond to RFPs for vendors, you’ll be ready to tackle any kind of proposal.

RFPs for Vendors: Initial Steps

1. Whether you found the RFP or it was sent to you, read it and any attachments VERY thoroughly! The RFP may include questions that don’t make sense. Highlight them and keep a running list.

2. Submit your questions and read the client’s answers to all bidders. Why? Because most RFPs will specify a date for submitting questions, and the client may not accept questions after the deadline.

3. The client may require bidders to advise if they’re preparing a response to their RFP for vendors. If so, send them the “Intent to Bid” letter or form by the specified deadline.

4. Check the RFP “Instructions” to learn how to submit your bid. Clients may want bids printed, emailed or uploaded through a bid portal. So, this may require creating an account to log in and submit your bid. Don’t wait until the due date to set this up!

The Writing Process

5. Determine which – if any – staff in your organization can help write the bid in response to the RFP questions. So, if you’re flying solo, or there’s nobody in your organization to support the bid process, consider working with an RFP consultant. Hire someone well-versed in the bidding process and with relevant writing experience to guide you. A consultant can even manage the entire bidding process for you.

Need help writing an RFP Executive Summary

6. Outsource as much of the writing as you deem necessary to the RFP consultant. They’ll set up a checkpoint with you to review what’s been written and identify gaps. So, if you find too many gaps – questions that nobody can answer – reassess the opportunity.

7. The client may distribute an amendment to provide additional information, revisions to the vendor RFP or an extension of the due date. Read every amendment as soon as possible.

8. Once the writing is complete, prepare for bid production. If you need editing and formatting help, your RFP consultant will relieve your stress by taking on those tasks. Therefore, give yourself enough time to perform a “final” review of the entire bid, including the pricing.

Bid Submission for Vendor RFPs

9. Finally, it’s time to submit your bid and… be patient! Some clients will evaluate bids quickly. However, others will take what seems like forever.

10. Clients may interview a shortlist of vendors or ask for oral presentations. Your vendor RFP consultant can also help you prepare for an in-person meeting with the client.

11. Sometimes, a client requests revised cost proposals if all bidders have exceeded what they’ve budgeted for the project. So, determine if you can lower your price and submit it.

12. The client should notify you within a few weeks whether or not your organization has been selected for the work. Therefore, depending on your relationship with the client, consider asking for a “debrief” to learn how you can improve the next bid.

At The Bid Lab, we work with clients who don’t have the time, resources, or experience to manage, write and build their bids. Because we’re writers and editors, we’ve curated an incredible resource library of RFP information in our Learning Center. From getting your RFP layout right to learning the ins and outs of marketing RFPs, we’ve got you covered. We’re experts on both sides of the equation: how to write an RFP and how to respond to an RFP (we’ve even created a user-friendly RFP search engine called Bid Banana!). Bids and RFPs are our business – all day, every day. So, reach out for a free consultation today by calling 1-844-4BIDLAB or emailing respond@thebidlab.com.