Finding the perfect vendor for your next project can not only be a challenge but also extremely time-consuming. After weeding through the hundreds, even thousands, of companies in the industry, you narrow it down to the top 20 to 30 candidates. You then reach out to each vendor, set up a discovery call, explain what your company does, your budget, and your time and tech constraints. Then they research the project, and fire off a series of emails with another dozen or so questions about your specific needs. Another round of calls is scheduled.

And, at the end of it all, you are left with maybe four strong candidates to review. And set up another round of calls with. In total, you have easily invested 40 hours or more in your search for a new vendor

Now, if you do this five or six times a year, it really starts to add up. So I want to share with you how my team handles vendor searches.

Request for Proposal

After identifying the vendors we are interested in working with, we create a request for proposal, or RFP, in which we lay out the project in detail in order to speed up the quoting process. A typical RFP will include the following:

  • Proposal due date

  • Company background

  • Project overview

  • Project goals

  • Scope of work. This generally includes a research and planning phase as well as implementation. 

  • Target deliverable schedule

  • Final project due date

  • Technical details or limitations

  • Budget

  • Evaluation metrics

  • What is expected of potential vendors or outside contractors

  • Series of questions that must be answered to be considered

  • Submission requirements. This often includes that a vendor must meet all metrics in the evaluation section, and notify us one week prior to deadline if they are interested in submitting a proposal; samples and references; and a proposed schedule when appropriate. 

  • Contact information

We then send this document to the potential vendors and ask them to review all materials and let us know if they are interested in submitting a proposal. 

Narrowing Down the Candidates

If done correctly, an RFP will answer 99 percent of the questions that a potential vendor will have prior to submitting a proposal. If you find that one or two things still pop up and require your explanation or attention, make a note to include that information in your next RFP project.

Since you have included things like goals, budget, and timeline, many of the vendors will step down if they find that they are unable to meet the requirements within your proposal, saving you countless hours of calls with vendors that are unable to help you with your project.

At this point, you should find yourself with about 10 vendors that are interested in your project and want to submit proposals. Once you review their proposals, you will be able to find the top candidates and then set up calls with them to discuss further.

This entire process will take you around five to 10 hours of your time, as opposed to the 40 hours doing it the traditional way.