What’s an RFP? What’s an RFI? What’s a DDQ? Follow the journey of a manager learning about the intricacies of the RFP process for the first time.
[LOCATION: HOME OFFICE OF “KEYES,” THE SALES MANAGER/PROPOSAL MANAGER/MARKETING MANAGER HERO. KEYES LOGS ONTO A VIDEO CONFERENCE WITH “BOSS.”]
KEYES: Hi, Boss. Nice virtual background. That’s the most artistic rendering of taxidermy I’ve seen in some time.
BOSS: Cut to the chase, Keyes. I’ve grown weary of these online meetings. Unless you have a solution to our revenue and inefficiency challenges, I’d rather you send me an email.
KEYES: You’re in luck, sir. It just so happens that’s why I requested this meeting.
BOSS: That’s what I like about you, Keyes. Always presenting answers instead of complaining about problems. Proceed.
KEYES: We can increase revenue by streamlining our RFP process.
BOSS: Brilliant! I like it…no, I love it! Let’s start immediately. Now…
What is an RFP again?
KEYES: An RFP is a Request for Proposal…when a company needs services and products like ours, they issue an RFP to identify the optimal vendor.
BOSS: Sounds like a no-brainer. Why haven’t we been doing this the whole time?
KEYES: We have responded to RFPs in the past, but it’s not exactly a turnkey process…yet. RFPs can be thousands of pages about pricing, functionality, technology, security, company basics, competitive differentiators, and more. Responding puts a strain on our subject matter experts, sales teams, and anyone else who needs to carve out extra time to help with the process.
BOSS: That doesn’t sound efficient at all.
KEYES: Well, then you have to take into consideration RFIs and RFQs, too.
BOSS: Enough with the acronyms, Keyes.
What’s an RFI? What’s an RFQ?
KEYES: Sorry, Boss. Request for Information and Request for Quote. RFIs tend to appear early in the vendor-selection process. Companies issue them to find out if any vendors can help them solve a particular problem. They’re more generic and open ended and would likely be used to craft a more targeted RFP. RFQs usually show up later in the vendor selection process, usually after we’ve submitted an RFP. This is when the company wants to know specifics on how much our solution will cost.
BOSS: RFPs, RFIs, RFQs… anything else I should know about? Wait, what’s that?!
How to Write an Effective RFP Executive Summary
KEYES: Good eye, Boss. That’s a cheat sheet on writing an executive summary. The executive summary is high-level content that covers the issuer’s challenges and demonstrates how our products and services will help.
BOSS: Sounds like a cover letter.
KEYES: That’s a common misconception, Boss. The executive summary is different from the cover letter. In an executive summary, we provide an executive-level summary of how our solution fixes their problem. In a cover letter, we talk about how great we are.
BOSS: I’m better at that than most.
KEYES: Of course you are.
BOSS: And what do our RFP-winning executive summaries look like?
KEYES: I’ll let you know when we win one.
BOSS: I was afraid you were going to say that.
KEYES: Don’t get discouraged, Boss. I have a plan to turn it around. The right RFP automation software will help us write RFP-winning executive summaries. Just like it will help with DDQs and security questionnaires.
BOSS: What did I just say about acronyms?
What’s a DDQ?
KEYES: Sorry. Last one. The DDQ is the Due Diligence Questionnaire. It’s usually one of the last stages of the response process. In fact, it may come after we’ve already been selected, when the company is doing their final due diligence. It typically involves a few hyper-specific points as part of their standard vendor onboarding protocol.
BOSS: And how is that different from a security questionnaire? In fact….
What even is a security questionnaire?
KEYES: Great question, Boss. Privacy is a hot button, and any company we work with wants to make sure we meet their privacy standards. Security questionnaires generally deal with privacy issues such as compliance, infrastructure security, and data protection. Depending on the company, this questionnaire can be a few hundred or a few thousand questions.
BOSS: Yowza. How long does it take to complete that?
KEYES: Weeks, if we don’t have a response process in place.
BOSS: Excellent. Let’s get it implemented. I’m putting you in charge of it, Keyes.
KEYES: I think that’s a good call, Boss. We’ll start with the 6-step RFP response process.
[CUT TO GRAPHIC OF 6-STEP RFP RESPONSE PROCESS]
BOSS: Looks like I put the right person in charge. You have all the answers, Keyes.
KEYES: Speaking of answers, that reminds of something else that’s essential to a smooth-running RFP process machine.
BOSS: Yes, yes, that’s why I brought it up. What’s on your mind?
KEYES: The Answer Library, Boss. It’s the secret to more efficient RFP content management. It’s what makes massive questionnaires answerable in a few clicks. It’s where content is marketing-approved and always ready to share. And if it’s intelligent—as it should be—it’s able to make recommendations along the way so that we can easily customize every RFP response. Plus, once a subject matter expert answers a question it stays in the library forever. From then on, they can take a reviewer role, saving them time and keeping them focused on their primary job duties.
BOSS: That’s it! You’re the winner, Keyes! Best video conference of the day.
KEYES: Thank you, Boss.
BOSS: No, thank YOU! Now, how do we get started. Will you—dare I ask—issue an RFP? Ha!
KEYES: Good one, sir, but no. I already have someone in mind.
[FADE OUT OF VIDEO CONFERENCE CALL AUDIO. ZOOM OUT TO SEE THE BACK OF KEYES. CUT TO BLACK. ROLL CREDITS]
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