Writing a successful RFI is the first step to RFP and new business success.
What Does RFI mean?
RFI means Request for Information. A Request for Information is an effective way for organizations to discover new solutions for solving a particular business problem. An RFI is also helpful for narrowing a long list of potential bidders into a short-list of well-suited vendors for responding to the follow-up Request for Proposal (RFP).
RFI’s allow organizations to discover new approaches, new solutions, new technologies and even source new vendors. An RFI does not mean a contract award – it is a way of gathering more information. And, the more information an organization can gather around potential solutions, the better they can define their requirements when issuing the follow up RFP.
Well-defined RFI requirements lay the groundwork for a well-written RFP requests. Both are great news for all bidders.
RFI requests provide vendors with an important opportunity to share some of their “specialty-secret-sauce”. However we caution responders to use the RFI response opportunity in a smart and strategic way.
RFI Response Writing Tips
Ultimate RFI response writing success is when your your Organization’s unique solution is shared in such a compelling fashion that it becomes a mandatory requirement in the follow-up RFP. This provides a critical edge over the competition in winning the RFP. However, some caution is required in writing the RFI response. There’s a balance between demonstrating compelling genius and giving away the answer that others can copy when the RFP is released.
The 3-D’s of RFI Response: Depth, Detail and Differentiation
In order to wow RFI issuers, you should go deeper than simply describing your organization’s products and services. RFI issuers also want to hear about the value-added and non-tangible elements that engaging you as a supplier will bring to a potential contract. Answering these questions will help:
How can your solution(s) make this potential client even more successful?
How does your solution(s) enable the issuers strategic goals for this year, next year or five years from now?
How will you grow your capabilities in sync with the clients evolving needs?
Is the issuer missing something relevant? The RFI is a perfect time to introduce it.
Getting Introduced Through an RFI is a Huge Opportunity
An RFI Response can be one of the best introductions your organization could ever have as a way to get in front of a potentially important client.
If your RFI response highlights your credibility, capabilities and presents your company as a professional, forward-thinking organization – you will be well on your way towards receiving the coveted RFI follow-up “Invitation only RFP Participation” request.
Karen McElroy is the CEO of Boardroom Metrics. She leads an experienced team of business writers across Canada and the United States. Dedicated to helping clients win competitive RFP/RFI/RFQ and Proposal pursuits, Karen is known for her unfailing responsiveness, lively personality and wealth of RFP and Proposal bid writing experience.