Now it’s time to start putting your RFP questions for vendors together. Use the information you’ve discovered from your internal discussions and research to create customized sections and questions. In most cases, it’s wise to ask a mixture of open-ended and closed-ended questions. This gives vendors some room to impress and surprise you, but also provides some easy-to-score responses.
Most of the procurement teams we work with rely heavily on RFP templates. Indeed, templates are a great way to save time and avoid rewriting standard questions. However, it’s important to carefully review each template to ensure that the RFP questions make sense for the current project. In addition to the standard questions below that can be a part of your template, include questions based on stakeholder feedback as well as industry-specific questions.
Discover industry-specific RFP questions
Your vendors are experts in their field, and typically, they are eager to help you build your RFP. Indeed, many vendors have an RFP template at hand to provide to prospects. When you read the RFP, you’ll discover questions you may not have known to ask. However, keep an eye out for any questions that seem to heavily favor the vendor that provided the RFP template. On the other hand, if you prefer to have an unbiased industry expert on your side, consider hiring an RFP consultant, posting in industry forums, LinkedIn groups and trade publications.
Standard RFP questions for vendors
Who is your competition?
This question is important for two reasons. First, is the company honest? How they answer this question will tell you a lot about how they do business. If they’re not willing to say who their competitors are, or why they lose to them, you might want to question their overall transparency. Second, have you considered their competitors for the project? If they mention a company you haven’t included in your RFP, do a little research to discover if their competitor is a better option.
How will your customer success team help us meet our goals?
Successful vendor relationships are ongoing. One of the biggest factors in the long-term success of your project is ensuring that you have the support you need to accomplish your goals. Consequently, it’s crucial to ask customer success questions. What is the implementation timeline? Who will be involved in training and onboarding? Are there additional fees for support? How and when can your team get into contact with a customer success representative?
Can we reach out to references and see case studies similar to our use case?
Reference questions for vendors let you hear feedback directly. Certainly talking with a current customer is a great way to get an unfiltered take on the product or service. You can ask what went well, what they’d do differently and what advice they have for you. On the other hand, if you can’t talk directly to a customer, ask for relevant case studies. Then, ask follow up questions to explore any differences between your use case and the provided case studies.
How will you protect our organization from risk?
Security questions should always be a part of your vendor due diligence process. To better understand what is required, ask your IT team what they need to know to ensure success. Are certain accreditations or standards of security required? How are communications processed? Additionally, ensure ongoing compliance with security questionnaires.