Increase your RFP Win Rate

Think about all the resources that are devoted to winning an RFP/RFI/RFQ.

Yet, the majority of vendors do not follow up with an RFP issuer to find out why they weren’t awarded a contract. That’s a mistake. Following up with the vendor is the only way to gather information that could help you increase your future RFP win rate.

The RFP Debrief Process

Most Government Agencies (Municipal/Provincial/Federal) are mandated to provide a debrief to proponents.

A debrief request should be done in writing within three days of being informed of the results. Generally, a phone call meeting will be scheduled with the Procurement officer. Prepare your questions and assign the call to the best communicator from your RFP Response Team.

The purpose of the debrief is to help improve your future RFP win rate and bid submissions. It also provides an opportunity to connect with the procurement team and give them additional insight into your company. This is biz-dev at its finest!

What You Can Learn from an RFP Debrief

Most government agencies are required to disclose the reasons for not awarding a contract. Although pricing/cost is often a key reason, there can be many other contributing factors to the determination.

The Freedom of Information Act (FIFA) allows the Agency to disclose many non-proprietary things to you. They can’t and won’t tell you the actual pricing that won the bid and they won’t share any proprietary trade secrets or privileged info about the vendor that won. However, numerous other valuable nuggets could come out of the debrief call.

What We’ve Learned from RFP Debriefs

Issuers frequently tell us that bidders are eliminated because they don’t answer the questions that were asked. For example, it’s not unusual when asked about past credibility/experience to answer based on future innovations and add-ons. Ensuring you interpret the questions correctly is essential for maximizing scoring by the evaluators.

On the Debrief Call

Be ready, be professional and prepare your questions in advance. Don’t sound accusatory or desperate. Now is the wrong time to compare your bid or your company to others.

Remember: your goal is to get useful feedback. Let the Procurement person talk. Make sure you listen and take notes.

Some suggestions for questions to ask:

  1. What did you like/not like about our proposal?
  2. Did our Executive Summary clearly explain our solution specific to your requirements?
  3. If the evaluation criteria was not clearly defined in the proposal, ask what they based the award on?
  4. Was our submission professionally written, easy to navigate and graphically appealing?
  5. What were our strengths in our response?
  6. What were our weaknesses in the response?
  7. How can we work with you to understand what you will need on the next RFP?
  8. Can we follow up with you mid-contract to understand what you like or don’t like about the current contractor? How should we communicate with you; via phone or email?

Post RFP Debrief Call

Write up your notes and share them with your RFP Response Team and the Leadership Team.

If you don’t already have a repository of RFP information, this is the time to create one.

Track your pursuits for more than just win/lose rates – use the debrief notes to learn and gain confidence for your next bid pursuit.


The RFP debrief is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about submitting a successful bid. Always take advantage of it.

Good luck!