Receiving an RFI, or Request for Information, is often a critical first step in a sales process. It is crucial to respond to an RFI in a compelling way that will set your company apart from the competition, which will help you reach the next phase of securing new business.
This article will explore the purpose of RFIs and how to respond to an RFI to provide winning information to the issuing organization.
What is an RFI response?
Organizations generally issue RFIs to help search for a new business provider or vendor. RFIs are typically the first of requests and questionnaires issued when companies are in the market for a new business provider and can be followed by other types of questionnaires to narrow their search, potentially including a Request for Proposal (RFP). The issuing company gains a good deal of information about the market and the services providers have to offer in a review of the RFI responses submitted by various vendors.
Including the best content in the RFI response is important to ensure your company’s inclusion in the vendors selected to receive the subsequent RFP.
Here are five more important steps to present the best RFI response possible.
- Carefully Review the RFI Requirements
Just because your company receives an RFI does not mean the business will be a good fit for your organization. The initial step when receiving an RFI is to evaluate the value this partnership could bring to your organization and decide whether this is a bid or no bid opportunity. Take time to review what the issuing company is looking for and do a candid team review to see if your company can meet the requirements based on your goods and services offerings.
Once you have decided to bid on this new business, proposal team members and SMEs should carefully review all of the questions outlined in the RFI and begin to narrow down and identify the content that will be most effective in the RFI response. This will help ensure that time is used wisely to meet the often tight submission deadlines while allowing additional time for essential customization requirements.
- Convene Your RFI Response Team
Your RFI response team should include colleagues from departments across your organization. It is essential to identify subject matter experts that can assist in answers to RFI questions that may have yet to have a predefined answer readily available.
After your RFI response team is established, it is time to formalize responsibilities and set up a timeline for key milestones to ensure the RFI response will be completed accurately and on time to meet the ultimate submission date to the issuing organization. Collaboration between all team members during this entire phase is crucial for success.
- Collect Mission Critical Content
Team members will need the content readily accessible for response to the RFI questions. Content should be stored in a centralized area where each member can gain immediate access to the most up-to-date and relevant information possible without resorting to searching out answers from disparate sources. The ability to quickly respond to repeat questions with accurate, up-to-date, compliant information is vital.
- Optimize Subject Matter Expert Process
SMEs play a crucial role in success when an RFI requires responses that proposal team members may lack the expertise to respond to. As much as possible, limit the number of times an SME is requested to provide the same information repeatedly. Make the process as simple as possible for these experts and find a location to store the SME responses for easy access. Proposal automation software offers companies a way to store responses within a content library, which helps companies to cut down on response time and increase chances of meeting a stringent response deadline.
- Outshine the Competition
Through the content library with consistently formatted and branded compliant content, your team stands ready to stand out against competitors. Be sure to highlight your company’s strengths as a credible and capable organization prepared to address their requirements for the RFP to follow.
- Final Inspection
Be sure to leave an appropriate amount of time to thoroughly review the RFI response for inconsistencies or outright errors. Spelling mistakes or inconsistent formatting will not speak to your organization’s professionalism. These types of errors may be a significant factor in the ability to reach the next phase of the sales process.
Expedience Software RFI Solutions
We hope you find the above information helpful. If you have questions about the process or need help with your RFI response, our team at Expedience Software is here to help!