Receiving an RFI (Request for Information) from a potential prospect is often the first step in a sales process. Knowing how to respond to an RFI in a compelling way can help your team stand out amongst your competition and reach the next phase of securing a win. Read on to learn the purpose of RFIs, the difference between RFPs and RFIs, and best practices for responding to an RFI, so that you and your team can gather the information needed to exceed the expectations of the issuing organization!
What is an RFI?RFIs are primarily used by organizations to help inform their search for a new partner or vendor. RFIs are typically the first and most broadly cast of a series of requests and questionnaires, which can include Request for Quotations (RFQs), and a Request for Proposals (RFPs), to narrow down a list of potential vendors. RFIs allow the issuing company to learn about the players in a given market and explore the technology or services they have to offer. As an often overlooked step in the sales process, it is crucial for your team to understand the purpose of an RFI and how it differs from an RFP. RFI vs RFP: So, What’s the Difference? As mentioned, RFIs are a preliminary document sent in the sequence of RFPs and RFQs. This means that they are issued at the very beginning of an organization’s due diligence process, while they are still exploring the market. Since an RFI is a preliminary questionnaire, the questions/prompts will often lack details that you would find in an RFP. As RFPs are sent after an organization has decided to move forward with potential prospects, their requirements are more defined, including questions around cost, etc. Now, knowing how to craft winning RFP responses is extremely important in securing the overall win. But putting your best foot forward in your RFI response is the first step in winning the business! Here are five more important steps for working with SMEs to compile the best RFP response and sales proposal content possible.
5 Best Practices for Your RFI Response Process
- Review RFI Requirements
- You want to eliminate any surprise questions that would cause you and your team to waste time scavenging through files or waiting for an SME to respond to a quick question.
- Assemble Your RFI Team
- If you have the option to choose from a variety of team members, select ones with experience in the industry of the issuing company. (They can provide great insight early on in your process!)
- Gather Content
- Manage SMEs
- Clearly communicating requests
- Making it easy for SMEs to respond to questions
- Have a system for storing SME responses so that you don’t have to go back to them over and over again
- Missing/incomplete information
- Consistency in formatting
- Tone of voice
- Grammatical errors
- Spelling errors