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What to Do if No One Responds to Your RFP

As a government procurement agent, you’re a pro at creating RFPs. But what happens when no one responds? Here are a few tips on how to get bids, when your bid number is zero.  

Review your ask – Check out your RFP and really look at what you’re asking the vendor to provide. Will their bid end up looking more like a novel? Vendors may be weighing the time required to addresses each point of your RFP against the likelihood of them securing the job. If they’re thinking it’s not worth the time, they won’t send a bid. If you’re asking for a bid with the moon and the stars, adjust your RFP to be a little more down to Earth.

Revise for clarity – A confusing RFP is likely to get passed over. Vendors don’t want to take the chance that they submit the wrong information, but they also might not want to reach out to verify certain points. Ask someone else to read your RFP and see if it makes sense. If they’ve got questions, potential vendors likely have the same concerns. 

Extend the timeline – Did you ask for a 24- or 48-hour turnaround? Many vendors run their own businesses and they might not even have time to read your RFP within the first couple of days of receipt. If you asked for a rapid response you might just have to face the fact that your timeline is not realistic. Try extending the deadline and see what happens.

Check your specs – Have you detailed every aspect of the project with no room for the vendor to make suggestions? Or on the contrary, have you included so few details that the vendor doesn’t know what you want? Review the specifications and adjust them to allow vendors to know what the final project needs to accomplish but give them the flexibility to suggest a path forward.

Spread the word – Did you only post your RFP in one spot? Make sure that word gets out so that you get more bids. You may want to check out a procurement network, like DemandStar, that will help you reach a wider range of vendors. A procurement network also can match your project with high-quality vendors and email the RFP right to their inbox. 

Price check – We know working within a budget, especially a government-provided budget, can be challenging. However, if none of the above suggestions increase your bid numbers, it might be time to consider that the budget is off. Check with other agencies in your area on similar projects and see what their budget was and compare to see if yours is on target. 

Have you ever posted an RFP and had no bids? Did you find out how to get more bids for your project? What did you do to spark interest?