Writing a request for proposal (RFP) isn’t easy, especially if you don’t do it every day. Indeed, it’s hard to know what to ask and there’s a lot of pressure to cover all your bases. Even if you start from an RFP template, it is always helpful to quickly review a list of the most popular sample RFP questions.
Start your next RFP with this easy-to-use template.
In this blog, you’ll see our top 101 sample questions to use in any RFP. This list includes a range of questions from general information to very specific inquiries. While closed-ended questions are easiest to score, open-ended questions evoke thoughtful, creative answers. Ideally, your RFP should contain a balance of both.
Many of these questions are best suited to an RFP or RFI rather than an RFQ. The sample RFP questions included below are most useful for indirect or strategic sourcing projects where the primary goal is overall, long-term partnership value.
Sample RFP questions by section/topic
These are run-of-the-mill questions that appear in almost every RFP. Nonetheless, these sample RFP questions are important to the process. Generally, these questions are not a factor in your ultimate decision, but exist to provide background information about your vendors.
1. Who will serve as the primary contact for this RFP?
2. Please provide a company overview.
3. Where is your company located?
4. How long have you been in business?
5. Please provide your company’s mission and/or vision statement.
6. Describe the company structure. (Private, public, partnership, etc)
7. How many full-time, part-time and contract employees do you have? (Please provide breakdown)
8. What awards or recognition has your company received in the last three years?
9. Is your company affiliated with any industry or professional associations?
10. What licenses or certifications does your company hold?
11. Please provide a product or service overview and description.
12. Describe your plans for growth over the next 3 years.
This section of sample RFP questions addresses the vendors’ current customers. Again, these questions are informative, but they likely won’t be pivotal in your decision. Afterall, what’s the ideal answer to a question like ‘how many customers do you serve’? Accordingly, they may not have an assigned value in your weighted scoring.
14. What is your target customer base?
15. How many customers do you currently serve?
16. What is your customer retention rate?
17. Who are your five biggest customers?
18. What percentage of your revenue comes from the top three accounts?
19. How long is your average customer relationship?
20. Are any of our primary competitors customers? (Competitor 1, Competitor 2, Competitor 3)
21. Please provide contact information for three customer references.
22. On average, what ROI do customers report after using your service/product?
While some procurement managers shy away from asking vendors about their competitors, it’s worth considering. RFP questions like this can reveal new vendors that you may have missed. In addition, the way that vendors respond is often revealing.
For instance, do they answer candidly or vaguely? Do they tailor their list of competitors to your needs and use case? How well do they keep up with trends within the industry? All interesting questions when you’re considering a long-term relationship.
22. Who are your top three competitors?
23. What are your primary competitive differentiators?
24. Why should we work with you instead of one of your competitors?
25. Are there alternative solutions that could better meet our needs?
26. Describe current industry trends and how your company keeps us on the leading edge.
Functionality and deliverables questions
Now we’re into the heavy-hitting questions. Indeed, these RFP questions carry significant weight in your RFP scoring process. Depending on your priorities, this section may be the most important and therefore, the highest value in your scoring.
These sample RFP questions should be customized to meet the needs of your project. For instance, along with question 28, consider including a table with a list of all of your minimum requirements. Also add a corresponding column that allows prospective vendors to indicate their ability to comply with each requirement with yes, no or partially.
27. Please indicate your ability to meet our RFP requirements.
28. Provide a sample timeline for our outlined deliverables.
29. Do you recommend any customization or additional features to achieve our goals?
30. What self-service reporting tools are available to us?
31. How do you determine your roadmap and/or product strategy?
32. What integrations are available?
33. When are updates and enhancements delivered to customers?
34. What is your company’s approach to project management?
35. How often are projects completed on time and within budget?
36. What action, participation or documentation is required from our organization to ensure timely implementation?
Experience and approach questions
This section of RFP questions is designed to inspect each vendor’s qualifications. If you already performed a request for qualifications (RFQ), and narrowed your vendor selection to only those that pre-qualified, you may decide to omit these questions.
37. What experience do you have working with organizations like ours?
38. Please provide any relevant case studies.
39. What resources will be dedicated to our account?
40. Provide brief biographies and project experience for primary contacts assigned to our account.
41. How often will you report our progress and results?
42. What technology do you leverage to ensure excellent customer communication and experience?
43. Provide a list of the standard report options, what each includes and available formats.
44. How are usage and performance reports provided?
45. What KPIs do you track and report?
46. Describe your approach to continuous process improvement.
Customer success questions
Often overlooked, customer success questions are crucial to selecting the right vendor for long-term engagements. Including these sample RFP questions gives you a sense of what it’s like to work with this vendor, what you can expect and how you’ll stay in touch after the contract is executed.
47. On average, how long does implementation take?
48. What is your averaged time to value (TtV)?
49. Describe your training and onboarding process.
50. What is required from a customer to ensure success?
51. Do you have a change management process?
52. What is a successful customer journey to your organization?
53. Do you conduct quarterly business reviews with customers?
54. How do you provide updates, track progress and ensure our success?
55. Please provide a list of self-service tools or resources that are available after onboarding.
56. How do you manage customer requests, complaints, concerns and feedback?
57. Do you use in-house or outsourced resources for customer support?
What is it going to cost? There are a lot of ways to ask and this list of RFP questions will help you gather the right information. Similar to other RFP questions, these should be customized to meet the needs of your current project.
58. Provide a pricing estimate based on the scope described.
59. Please describe your current pricing model/methodology.
60. What are the itemized one-time, startup costs and recurring annual/monthly costs?
61. Please list all services and features included in the proposed pricing.
62. What limits are imposed upon users, training hours, professional services and data storage?
63. At what level do you provide volume discounts?
64. Describe your upgrade process if we need to increase our scope.
65. What are your cancellation/renewal terms?
66. How do you ensure your pricing remains competitive?
Risk management questions
Risk management is an important part of the procurement process in general as well as the RFP process specifically. Thus, risk questions like these should be included in your RFP or sent as part of a separate vendor risk assessment.
67. Is your organization GDPR compliant?
68. Describe your regulatory compliance process.
69. Are there any pending legal issues or complaints against your company?
70. Share statistics about technology stability/reliability and down times.
71. Please provide your business continuity and emergency preparedness plan.
72. How often does the company update and test the continuity and preparedness plans?
73. Is your organization equipped to work remotely?
74. How do you manage price volatility with your suppliers?
75. Describe your approach to staff retention. What is the average turnover rate for the last five years?
Data security questions
Ensuring the integrity of your data is essential no matter what you’re purchasing. While some RFPs group data security with vendor risk, it can be helpful to give each its own section. Supplement these sample RFP questions with regular security risk assessments.
76. Describe your backup and data recovery policy.
77. Where do you host your software and customer data?
78. Are you SOC compliant? ISO certified? If so, what is your current level?
79. What are the results of your most recent penetration test?
80. Describe how security vulnerabilities are identified and mitigated.
81. Is our data accessed and used by your company?
82. Have you experienced downtime in the last two years? If so, how long were customers impacted?
83. What are your data import and export capabilities?
These RFP questions cover vendor sustainability. Indeed, partnering with vendors who share your company’s values is increasingly important to maintaining your brand reputation. Asking these questions in your RFP ensures your ongoing sustainability efforts and initiatives won’t be derailed after you’ve signed a contract.
84. Do you have a corporate responsibility policy? If so, please provide it.
85. What sustainability accreditations and certifications do you hold?
86. Who in your business monitors, manages and reports sustainability efforts and impacts?
87. Do you measure the sustainability performance of your vendors and subcontractors?
88. Do you track, report and manage your use of energy, water and chemicals?
89. How can we partner with you to enhance environmental sustainability in our mutual supply chain?
90. Do you use renewable energy?
91. How does your organization give back to or serve your community?
92. Do you enforce a supplier code of conduct? If so, please provide it.
93. Provide any other company mandates concerning your purchasing philosophy and strategy.
94. Does your organization publish an environmental performance report?
Diversity and inclusion questions
Procurement teams have a unique power to support diversity initiatives. These RFP questions help your team understand each vendor’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.
95. Please provide any current diversity certifications.
96. Does your company have a supplier diversity program? If so, please provide.
97. What percentage of your employees are women and/or minorities?
98. What percentage of senior leadership is women or minorities?
99. Does your organization have a diversity and inclusion goal and how do you track progress?
100. Have there been any claims of sexual or general harassment, misconduct or discrimination in the last 5 years? Please provide details, if so.
101. For last year, what percentage of your company’s procurement spend was with women, minority and veteran-owned businesses?
And there you have it — 101 sample RFP questions to help ensure your next RFP is a success. If you’re interested in more ways to improve your RFP process, consider exploring RFP management software. Sourcing software, like RFP360, centralizes the RFx process and makes it easy to create, save and edit templates for any information request.
Watch this video for a quick overview of how RFP software can empower you and your team.
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