As your team prepares to release an RFP (request for proposal), inviting more vendors will benefit your procurement efforts as well as your company as a whole. More potential vendors drives greater price competition and the ability to leverage and negotiate proposals, leading to more aggressive proposals and fiscally responsible solutions. While you’re in the process of negotiations, it’s important to be transparent with vendors and avoid bluffing, which is unethical and generally sours the relationship. It’s easy, as a result of being lazy or wanting to move quickly, to skip the extra step of reaching out to more vendors (in order to retain more RFPs). But in all honesty, it’s not nearly as painful or time consuming to invite more vendors to an RFP as you might think. In the end, the most important thing is for you to be a good client during the negotiations because ultimately, the best relationships between vendors and buyers are partnerships.
When you invite more vendors, be sure to keep the following tips in mind:
- Strong RFPs, by nature, make more work for the potential vendors, if one of these vendors thinks that winning is unlikely, they may not submit a bid. So be sure to invite strong, prequalified potential vendors.
- RFPs are a waste of time if the responses aren’t thoroughly evaluated, when inviting vendors keep in mind that you should invite as many vendors as responses you are willing to evaluate.
- Give your vendors sufficient information in your RFP (like demographics and plan details) so they can give you strong, thorough answers.
- Be sure to ask specific questions so you can easily compare vendors side-by-side. Try not to feature-compare, rather, solution compare. In other words, with more complicated, expensive technologies and tools, look at the problems you’re trying to solve and how the various product options help you solve your problems, versus getting into non-strategic feature comparisons. As a procurement professional, the core purpose of your job is to solve problems, not to “buy stuff.”
Ultimately, inviting more vendors to respond to your RFP creates more pricing competition and transparency, and will lead to higher quality proposals as well as better technology for you and your company.