Buyer community crowdsources RFP best practices

Buyer community crowdsources RFP best practices

Without the right tools and RFP best practices in place (aka a solid Request for Proposal (RFP) management platform), corporate purchasing can seem overwhelmingly complicated.

Improving RFP processes appears simple in theory (shopping for goods or services), is difficult in practice when it comes to executing a purchasing proposal in the corporate world — particularly because of how many people (and companies) your decisions impact.

The other problem is that in many cases, businesses are searching for a vendor for a project that might be vital, but is outside their area of ability. Take IT, such as. Many businesses looking for an IT vendor don’t speak the tech language and don’t have the subject matter experts on hand to know what services they might actually need.

Beyond that, particularly for SMBs, they don’t have the time or resources to truly vet vendors bidding on a project. It makes sense then, that while it violates RFP best practices, many businesses still choose to move forward with a vendor-written RFP.

As tempting as that is, it’s impossible to know where the company bias falls in their RFP. They’ll also likely try to use the RFP as a gateway to cross-sell other services they offer that you may not need or want.

Without the technical expertise to understand the products or services that you’re requesting from a vendor, it’s impossible to really know who is the prime beneficiary of the RFP — your company or the vendor. It’s also difficult to know if they’re creating a proposal that effectively eliminates their competitors even before the RFP process runs its course.

In fact, some companies may insert leading questions to prevent you from getting bids from specific vendors — making it easier for that company to win the bid. There may also be the possibility the wrong type of questions are built into the RFP, which can derail the project all together.

“These subtle introductions of bias towards a single vendor add up over the course of a long RFP, and are a major contributor to the first touch problem,” writes Peter Bonney, a co-founder at Vendorful. “You want to find the best solution, not just the first solution. That’s why it’s much better to lean on community expertise — rather than vendor expertise — when looking for help with an RFP.”

What’s the best route to do so?

“Rely on the wisdom of other buyers who have been in your position! And use the total expertise of the vendor community, not the single opinion of a biased salesperson,” Bonney suggests.

Vendorful offers a free RFP management platform and consulting on RFP best practices. To learn more about Vendorful’s free RFP management platform, visit their website at