Dealing With RFQs, Part 2

In the prior installment, I had begun detailing the Request For Quote process, and my observations on them.
And by “observations on them,” what I really mean is my cynical outlook on them.

Don’t get me wrong, jumping through the RFQ hoops set out by organizational procurement managers can be a tedious and unrewarding exercise. But it’s a necessary one, and just because it can be a drag doesn’t mean it isn’t possible to do it successfully.

The very definition of being adult is doing the things you don’t want to do, because you have to do them, and ensuring that you do them well. As previously mentioned, the requirements for how an RFQ is to be responded to can vary widely, depending upon the formats and preferences of the organization that’s floated the RFQ.

Consequently, it’s difficult to craft a one-size-fits-all template “How To Quote On An RFQ.” Granted, if you’re often dealing with the same organization on an ongoing basis, you’ll develop a template particular to them — at least until the procurement mangers leave, and are replaced by others who have completely different ideas on how to do things.

Getting back on track here, like everything else, in your business, there are standards and best practices that you can employ. Everything you do has a process and the RFQ cycle is no different. I’ve got some suggestions on how to simplify the process.

First up is the need to corral the correct people involved in the decision making process to get their input. It may seem painfully obvious that this needs to be done, in theory, but applying it in practice sometimes isn’t that easy.

Especially on large projects, there may be multiple department heads with a stake in the outcome and may have conflicting input. Seldom will the procurement managers have gotten them all into line for you. So, obvious as it sounds, making sure you have all the details on what’s really required is crucial.

Once needs have been correctly assessed, then they have to be prioritized.

Sadly, unless the budget is unlimited (spoiler alert: that never happens), not everyone is going to get what they want. Depending on what their priorities are, different stakeholders at the client organization will have different desiderata for what they want from you.

It’s impossible to please everyone. Hence the need, once input on requirements, whether non-negotiable or mere wish-lists have been collected, they’ve got to be ranked, from the highest priority to the lowest. Here’s where being a diplomat is just as important as being a salesperson.

Where those requirements fall on that list of priorities will shape the quote you deliver.

Just like the project itself, producing a large quote in response to the RFQ requires creating a timeline, assigning responsibilities for sections of it (where applicable), and coordination among your team members to have it completed in time for submission.

Time is always something in short supply, and inevitably the prospective client organization will want it “not now, but RIGHT NOW” as the expression goes. Being well organized and following a process will go a long way towards producing winning quotes.