Responding to RFPs? Watch For These 16 Traps

If you respond to local government RFPs, you know they can get pretty complicated. Even when you’re confident that you’ve crafted the perfect response, you still may have a few questions in the back of your mind. What’s the best way to submit your response? Is the information you’re providing comprehensive and complete? Do you need to complete all sections or are certain pieces of the solicitation optional?

The team at Vendor Registry has read and responded to hundreds of state and local government RFPs, and we’ve gathered our top 16 “gotchas” to look out for that’ll save you time and money and give you a better chance at coming out on top.

  1. Alternatives not acceptedBe sure that alternative products are accepted; if not, you’re probably chasing someone else’s deal.
  2. Question periodPlan to participate in the question period, especially if there’s any doubt that you or your product will qualify.
  3. Value-added servicesConsider this section as mandatory, as it’s a great place for you to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  4. InsuranceEnsure you clarify what coverage level is required. Although standard levels are usually accepted, some may require you to increase your coverage.
  5. Liability and IndemnificationRead this section carefully to determine the amount of risk you’re taking on, especially if you’re handling data.
  6. No guaranteed minimum purchasesGovernments may flaunt a large number of potential purchases in order to get volume discounts but, in reality, may have no minimum purchase quantities in the contract.
  7. Most Favored Customer PricingIf you offer another customer a lower price for a similar product or service just prior to or during the term of the contract, you may be liable to refund the government the price difference.
  8. Guaranteed pricingThe government may require you to honor a price for many months (sometimes even over a year), which presents difficulty for you if it also has Most Favored Customer Pricing.
  9. Final and best offerMake sure you understand the bidding process. In some cases, a “short list” of vendors is selected and further price reductions are expected as part of your final and best offer.
  10. Delivery timeEnsure you clarify this information for your product or service; not all customers realize how long it takes to source and deliver a product, especially in high volumes.
  11. On-site support and response timesDelivering the product is only half the battle; you may have additional post-purchase support requirements.
  12. Post award reporting and administrationFederal contracts are known for their cumbersome reporting requirements, but some local governments will require extensive post-award reporting and administrations that will cost you real time and money.
  13. Web portal for purchasingSome governments may require you to make your products available or post your invoices through a web portal. Be sure that this is something that you can handle, as it can be a time-consuming and costly requirement to accommodate. You may also be subject to 3rd party portal fees if integration is required.
  14. Failure to PerformIf you’re unable to supply the requested product at the contracted price, the government may have the right to procure the product elsewhere and then charge you the difference in price.
  15. Corporate officer’s or CEO’s signature requiredLook for this requirement early in the process so you have enough time to procure the appropriate signatures from stakeholders in your business.
  16. Submission requirementsHow does the government want you to respond to the RFP? Does it need to be notarized? Do you need to provide a certain number of bound copies? Should it be submitted electronically? Find this information well before the deadline so you can prepare accordingly.


What other “gotchas” have you seen when responding to RFPs? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to add to this list!



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