You probably write emails all day without giving them a second thought. However, when it comes to sending an RFP invitation email to vendors, it can be intimidating. After all, you need vendors to read your email, check out the request for proposal and then submit a proposal. Ideally, you’ll receive more than three qualified responses — but it all starts with your RFP email to vendors.
How can you encourage vendors to respond? What should the subject line be? How much information should you include in the RFP invitation email? When should you send it? If you’ve ever asked these questions, or are asking them now, you’re in the right place.
In this blog, we’ll explore how to invite vendors to respond to your request for proposal. First, we’ll share what to include in your RFP invitation email to vendors. Then, we’ll offer tips to maximize vendor interest and engagement. Finally, we’ll share an RFP email invitation template as well as a few examples.
How to write an RFP invitation email to vendors
After you’ve completed the RFP, you’re ready to select your vendors and send it out. Most organizations manage this part of the RFP process using email. There are three main elements to consider when writing any request for proposal (RFP) invitation email. Every RFP invitation should include a subject line, email body and RFP link or attachment. As you write your email, it’s important to get each part right to encourage vendor engagement.
RFP invitation subject line
Your email subject line is the first thing your prospective vendor will see. Often, it can determine whether or not the recipient receives, notices and opens your email. There are a few subject line best practices you should follow when sending your RFP email invitation.
Keep it short
Subject lines should be less than 60 characters to ensure that they’re not abbreviated in the recipient’s inbox. Additionally, research shows that subject lines from six to 10 words long yield the best open rates.
Avoid spam words
Your email needs to make it to the vendor’s inbox to be effective. Accordingly, you don’t want your RFP invitation to get caught by a spam filter. Avoid using all caps, excessive punctuation and words commonly used by spammers. Hubspot offers a list of more than 300 words that may cause problems in your subject line.
Your subject line isn’t the place to be clever or coy. Your subject line should make it clear that the email contains an RFP invitation. Additionally, consider including your company name and a call to action.
Sample subject lines
- RFP invitation for XYZ good or service – ABC Company
- XYZ good or service RFP invitation from ABC Company
- Invitation to bid – RFP for XYZ good or service – ABC Company
- RFP invitation – Please respond by date – ABC Company
- Invitation to bid from ABC Company – RFP attached
Sections for your RFP invitation email to vendors
Now, it’s time to write the body of your email. You want to strike a balance between being brief and providing enough information. Break your email down into key sections to help keep it short. For example, most RFP invitation emails should include a greeting, introduction and summary, highlights, next steps and closing. It may sound like a lot, but for most RFPs, you can cover all five sections in less than a dozen sentences.
Hello. Greetings. To whom it may concern. All of these are possible options for your RFP introduction. Generally, we recommend keeping it simple and classic. If you know your contact’s name, ‘Dear Name’ is always a strong way to open your RFP invitation email to a vendor. Alternatively, you may skip the greeting all together and jump into the introduction instead.
Essentially, you can decide what greeting is most fitting. However, try to avoid overly casual or group greetings like ‘Hi all’ or ‘Hey everyone’ as these may discourage vendors from responding. Indeed, these greetings may make them feel disregarded or as if they’re just one of dozens of options and therefore unlikely to win.
RFP introduction and summary
After your greeting, it’s time to get down to business. Why are you reaching out? For most RFPs, a simple statement of who you are and what you need is sufficient. For example, if ABC company is buying XYZ service, the RFP email introduction might say:
You are invited to submit a proposal to ABC Company in response to the attached RFP for XYZ service.
In this section of your RFP invitation email to vendors, provide more information about the scope and goals of your project. Essentially, this is your elevator pitch for why a vendor should invest time and effort into creating a proposal for your project. Give them an idea of the value of your project by sharing your needs and expectations.
ABC Company is seeking a partner to accomplish end goal by providing:
- Primary service
- Secondary service
- Tertiary service
A contract will be awarded based on the RFP evaluation criteria including ability to meet stated requirements, customer references, solution approach, price and additional factors detailed in the RFP.
Before signing off, offer interested vendors information about what comes next in the process. Will you require a letter of intent to bid? Should vendors review the RFP and send in their follow up questions? Who should they reach out to if they need more information?
Vendors who wish to participate should review the RFP and submit any follow up questions to Contact Name, who will serve as the primary point of contact for this RFP, no later than Date. Completed proposals are due on or before Submission Due Date. We anticipate announcing our final selection no later than Date.
Finally, close your email with a thank you and sign off.
Thank you in advance for your time and interest. We look forward to learning more about your company, team and services.
Tips to increase vendor RFP engagement
If you aren’t receiving the responses you’d hoped for, check out these quick tips to maximize vendor engagement with your RFP invitation email.
Select the right send time
As any sales person can tell you, if you want your recipient to open your email, there’s a right time to send. For business-to-business emails like RFP invitations, research shows that the best time to send is Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you’re sending outside that window, your message may be getting buried. Remember to take into account potential differences in time zones as well.
Reach out to the right person
Often, we ignore emails that end up in our inbox but were intended for someone else. Consequently, it’s worth doing a little research to find the right contact for your RFP. If you’re inviting vendors you haven’t worked with before, reach out with a pre-RFP email or call to get information for the right person. Generally, the best place to start is with sales, marketing or business development titles.
Email each company individually
If you’ve already narrowed your vendors to a shortlist, consider writing individual RFP invitation emails.
By customizing the RFP invitation email to each vendor, you’ll communicate that you’ve done your research and are a serious buyer. You can allude to the exclusivity of your RFP while flattering prospective vendors in your invitation email as well by saying something like:
You’ve been selected to participate based on the project requirements, market research and your company’s reputation for excellence.
Because of the time required to send individual emails, vendors know there are a limited number of participants, increasing their chances of winning the contract and piquing their interest. We recommend this approach if you’re sending your RFP to fewer than six vendors.
Use reader-friendly formatting
Your RFP invitation email to vendors shouldn’t be a wall of text. Too much information is overwhelming, uninviting and unnecessary. After all, you’re attaching the RFP with all the required information, so you don’t need to overdo it in the email.
Think of it like this: the RFP is the entree and the invitation email to vendors is the appetizer. So, be sure to use formatting that makes your email appealing. Specifically, ensure it’s reader-friendly, quick to scan and easy to digest at a glance. Remember to use short sentences and paragraphs as well as bullet points where possible.
Don’t forget your attachment
So, this seems obvious, but it’s worth double checking. It happens to the best of us, but it’s always a little embarrassing to leave the attachment behind.
So, whether you’re sending your RFP as a PDF or a link, make sure it’s included before you hit send. While you’re at it, it’s a nice touch to give each attachment a name that reflects its contents.
Use RFP management software
Don’t want to send dozens of individual RFP email invitations to vendors? Want to avoid the inevitable flood of follow up emails from interested parties? RFP management software enables you to invite vendors to your RFP, answer questions, track real-time response progress, automate reminder emails and more — all without filling your inbox.
Sample RFP email invitation: Template and example
RFP invitation email templates
RFP letter of invitation template – Cal State
While this RFP template from Cal State is 20 pages long, the first two pages are a helpful sample RFP invitation email. This sample RFP invitation specifies that invited vendors have specifically been selected to participate. The letter also includes guidelines for formatting and submission.
RFP invitation email template — Sourcing Industry Group (SIG)
Provided by the Sourcing Industry Group (SIG), this sample invitation to vendors to submit a proposal to an RFP is only available to SIG members.
RFP invitation letter examples
RFP invitation letter example — Triad National Security
This example of an RFP invitation letter to vendors includes an overview of the project, information about proposal submission requirements and a reminder that vendors should send a letter of intent to bid as their next steps.
RFP invitation email example — Butler County, Kansas
Taking a more casual tone, this RFP invitation email sample shares background about the issuer, Butler County Kansas. In addition, the letter provides next steps, RFP contact information and a reminder of the submission deadline.
Now, with every advantage, your next RFP invitation email to vendors will encourage increased participation and engagement. Hopefully the end result will be more qualified proposals and more options leading you to your next partner while maximizing vendor value.