How To Ask RFP Questions The Right Way

How To Ask RFP Questions The Right Way
How To Ask RFP Questions The Right Way

Post Written By Maurice Harary, Forbes Councils Member

Knowing how to respond to a request for proposal (RFP) gives you an opportunity to secure new clients — and it may be the only way to do business with government agencies. If you’ve ever been invited to an RFP, you know how involved the process of responding to one can be. 

If not, let’s say you’ve just received an RFP, and the project aligns with the product or service you’re offering. Great! Also, the potential client does business in your geographic area. Even better! Further, the RFP is prioritizing minority-owned businesses like yours. Winning!

But as you read through the proposal a few times, questions begin to pop up. The same way you used to highlight lines in Shakespeare that were difficult to understand in middle school, it’s helpful to highlight the points that cause confusion right away. This way you can go back and get your questions on page 2 answered when they’re addressed again on page 22. 

If, for whatever reason, your questions are not addressed after reviewing the RFP multiple times, it is never a bad idea to ask questions. But the way you ask those questions is important. 

When communicating with potential clients, it is helpful to remember the following best practices:

Be On Time

Make sure you understand the deadlines outlined in the RFP and respect them. This could be your first impression with a new client, and you want to make sure you show them that you can meet all due dates not only in this RFP, but also once you secure their business.

Be Confident

Don’t neglect to ask a question because you are afraid it is going to be perceived as “stupid.” What’s truly stupid is missing out on an opportunity because you misunderstood a prerequisite of the RFP. Chances are, if you have a question, so do many others. 

Be Concise

When submitting questions, it is best to keep your communications concise and to the point. Leave the flowery language and paragraphs of text behind. The team reviewing an RFP submission wants to see how well you can get to the point and provide a solution that works for their business. 

Be Rigorous

Ensure that you’ve proofread any questions you are posting. If your questions don’t make sense, have a spelling error or reference an incorrect page number, then there is a good chance the client will answer the question incorrectly or not at all, which could negatively impact your chances of being awarded. 

Be Strategic

You need to be strategic about the questions you provide, as they can inadvertently provide your competitors with an advantage. Oftentimes, evaluators will share all questions and answers received to all applicants. This way, no one can claim down the line that one applicant was provided an undue advantage during the question period. So, be strategic, and don’t provide too much detail or context in your questions. 

If you follow these rules of questioning, you are more likely to get the answers you need to start on the road to an RFP win. 

Forbes Article Link: How To Ask RFP Questions The Right Way