How to Write a Request for Proposal:
Four-step guide with free templates and samples

The process of requesting proposals is used to find a supplier who has the resources and motivation to deliver creative, relevant, and cost effective solutions to buyers’ problems.

1
Define your need

What
When
Why

2
Inspect the market

Quality products
+ Find suppliers

3
Prepare RFP document

Structure
Templates and samples

4
Send RFP invitations

Use email or
RFP software

Often RFPs are run by inexperienced buyers who are familiar with neither the products they are buying nor the RFP process itself. Inexperience can lead to a difficult RFP process for both the buyer and suppliers. This often results in suppliers not sending proposals or, even worse, buyers purchasing a product that does fulfill the organization’s standards or goals. Read more about what confuses the suppliers and drags down RFP results.

To avoid such a situation, we have prepared a simple four-step guide on how to write a request for proposal that lets suppliers prepare proposals for creative, relevant, and cost effective solutions to buyers’ problems.

1. Define your need in detail

Before writing up your RFP, you should have a clear idea of what you need to buy, what problems the purchased item needs to solve, what features it should have, what are size and quality needs, and when is the exact time it’s needed. (Answer these three questions: What, when, and why?)

Define your need in detail:

  • Contact persons who have bought similar items.
  • Research the topic and read reviews, forums, and blogs.
  • Contact a potential supplier and ask what he needs in order to submit the proposal and take note of any questions that come up.
  • Ask a knowledgeable professional about the topic.

A poorly prepared buyer is likely to become bait for a well-trained, skilled salesman who knows knows how to sell.

2. Understand the market

Take a close look at the market situation. How many suppliers are selling the products and services you need? Identify the differences between their products: is the quality different, what is their pricing like, and when can they deliver?

If you don’t understand the market, you may end up buying an effectively marketed product that doesn’t exactly fit your needs. Indeed, a “best fit” supplier (high quality, flexible, and reasonably priced) who is not that skilled in marketing may not be found at all.

At the end of this stage, gather a list of suppliers who seem to have the potential to deliver the necessary products or services.

3. Prepare the request for proposal document

1) A brief overview of your current situation and needs
This should be no longer than one sentence. Use this as the subject line when sending the request to the agencies.

2) Details and descriptions.
Provide a clear overview of your plans. A detailed request will result in fewer questions asked when running the request.

  • What you need: Describe the business goals driving this project?
  • Expectations: What are your expectationd from the supplier.
  • When: When do you expect the suppliers to deliver? Give a clear overview of the timeframes.
  • Budget and costing: Provide an estimate budget that you can assign for this project. Also state your preferred costing model: fixed-cost, variable scope with hourly rate or other.
  • Images: Attach relevant images to the RFP. An image says more than one words

3) Mandatory requirements
State your mandatory requirements (e.g. past experience, qualifications, references, company turnover rate, etc).

4) Overview of attached documents
List the images, designs, agreements or other documents that will be attached to the RFP.your time.

4. Send the request for proposal to suppliers via email or use a special RFP tool like DeltaBid

DeltaBid RFP Software

 

DeltaBid is a user-friendly tool for those who need a better way of getting bids from suppliers.

 

We have built a tool that replaces email. This is great for not only buyers but anyone who wants to get organized and save their time running RFPs.

It takes just 10 minutes to see what the solution is about and like most procurement professionals, you will probably fall in love with it!