RFP Databases: Benefits & Limitations


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Information is power, and online RFP databases can be useful for uncovering leads in the government space.  Various companies and government agencies provide online listings of open RFPs allowing sales people to locate potential projects.  Here are some considerations when using these resources. 


One of the nicest things about these databases is the handy consolidation of a great deal of information.  With a single login, salespeople can search, filter, view and evaluate RFPs issued from government agencies.  Historically, this task was ridiculously difficult requiring constant phone calls and lengthy snail-mail wait times or camping out by a FAX machine.  Online databases have made this part of lead discovery a fairly efficient process. 

Another benefit is the ability to see not only RFPs that are open, but also those that are closed or awarded.  At times, it is useful to see what it took for a company to win similar projects (pricing, features, etc.).  Even if great detail is not available, bits of information can be helpful when putting together a proposal. 

A third benefit relates to trending information.  While most frequently, sales people are looking for specific sales opportunities, searching and analyzing these databases can provide a clue for emerging or declining trends in their industry.  Some commercial services actually do the legwork for you along these lines, and provide summaries of deal trends and RFPs issued quarter by quarter. 


The main problem with online databases is sales teams’ over-reliance on them as a means for lead generation.  Too often, sales teams wait passively for RFPs to be issued in their product category.  Then, a response team is ignited to respond.  While this may yield some fruit, it eliminates any influence the salesperson might have had over the sale.  It’s no surprise that the competition has access to all of the same online resources and everyone else is springing into action, too.  If your product or service is head-and-shoulders above the rest and you have a Pulitzer Prize winner for a proposal writer, then a “wait and see” approach may be just fine.  If you’re like 95% of the rest of the market, you’d do best not to rely too heavily on published RFP sources. 


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