In recent years, states have noticed a decrease in the number of vendor responses to Requests for Proposals (RFPs). This means states have fewer vendors to choose from, and often the choices have higher costs.
Some states believe that vendors perceive less financial gain in doing business with states with smaller transaction volumes, so they don’t respond to their RFPs. Others attribute the lack of vendor participation to restrictive contractual terms or procurement requirements.
It is critical for state agencies to attract qualified vendors who will deliver value-added products and services. Regardless of the reason for the decline in responses, you need to take steps that lead to more high-quality responses.
The following tactics can help you generate more interest:
- Host procurement fairs with a specific focus (for example, products, services, industry, etc.) to facilitate two-way communication between your agency and the vendor community. These fairs can help you understand the vendor perspective and gather feedback on how to set up your procurement for a strong response.
- Reform your state’s purchasing practices to promote uniform procurement rules, guidelines, and tools across state agencies to create a reliable, consistent procurement infrastructure for bidders.
- Conduct pre-proposal conferences to formally announce procurements and provide a platform for preliminary questions, not a summary of the RFP.
- Announce procurements in advance and provide a tentative schedule. Vendors will watch for procurements and even set aside time to work on a proposal for an opportunity they know is coming and want to respond to.
- Release the bidder’s library ahead of the RFP to provide resource materials that will generate interest and help vendors gain a better understanding of your needs.
- Consider creative procurement and requirement models. For example, value-based procurement techniques focus on the problem to be solved rather than a solution to be purchased, allowing vendors to use their expertise to meet your needs rather than your prescribed understanding of their work.