Everything You Need to Know About a Government Solicitation
If you’re new to the world of government contracting, you may have little to no experience with writing and responding to a government solicitation. This may seem like a daunting task for those who haven’t crafted many solicitations. However, if you are armed with the right information, responding to a government solicitation can be a breeze for you and your company.
Before you submit your response, you must first take some time to craft your response package. Depending on what the government customer is requesting in their solicitation, your response may include a magnitude of different things. When it comes to solicitations, you should pay close attention to what is being requested from you as the contractor. This could include a page count, addressing technical requirements, providing a price quote, or responding to government clauses.
Whatever it is the government customer is requesting via solicitation, it is extremely important to meet and exceed the expectations they provide in their request.
If you and your organization want to give yourself the best chance of winning contracts, you should consider the following while responding to a government solicitation:
Do Your Homework
Just like with most things in life, you will find great success in responding to a solicitation if you do your “homework.” It is highly advantageous for you to know who your competitors are and how your products or services are different from the others. Presenting this information to the government may help to differentiate your response, ultimately allowing you to stand out from your competitors.
Understanding the customers’ needs and how your competitors may respond can help show your product or solution will address the very issues the customer is concerned about. This strategy can help you win contracts and grow your public sector presence.
We’ve covered how to find and win government opportunities in the past, but to quickly summarize, your company should consider your ideal government customer, what your differentiators are, and what your go-to-market strategy is. Having this information will greatly impact your ability to respond to a government solicitation, such as a Request for Information (RFI), Request for Proposal (RFP), or Request for Quote (RFQ).
Understand the Different Solicitation Types
So, you have been tasked with responding to a solicitation and have done some homework on the customer and your competitors, now what? This is a great time to get in the weeds of the solicitation to determine if it is an RFI, RFP, or RFQ. Below are some examples of what each type of solicitation is and why the government issues it.
Request for Information (RFI)
An RFI, otherwise known as a Request for Information, is a process used by government agencies to gauge industry interest in a government solicitation, as well as to understand what products or services exist to solve a problem. Depending on the response’s procurement officers receive, they will likely issue an RFP/RFQ calling for vendors to respond. An RFI allows the government to explore the different vendors that exist to address their needs.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
RFP, a Request for Proposal, is a document that lays out the framework and requirements for a government solicitation. An RFP often solicits interested companies to respond to technical requirements and address how their software, product, or service will address the government’s needs. An important thing to consider when responding to an RFP is that the customer will likely be receiving responses from several vendors, so you need to provide a clear narrative and lay out specifically what you have to offer as far as capabilities.
With an RFP, the process is generally considered to be a formal request, meaning the information you provide on your response regarding your solution or services needs to be highly detailed and precise.
Request for Quote (RFQ)
Commonly referred to as an RFQ, a Request for Quote is a process which invites interested vendors to join the bidding process and provide a price quote to the government for your organization’s goods or services.
In an RFQ, your company will generally provide a digital price quote that addresses the government customers' needs and states what it will cost to meet the requirements. It is typical for government customers to go straight to an RFQ and avoid RFIs or RFPs if they are seeking Government off-the-shelf (GOTS) solutions that are readily available via a contract vehicle, such as the General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS).
Government RFQs are generally considered as an informal request as agencies often may change details or the deadline with little to no notice. If this happens to you, it is important to submit a revised price quote as quotes are meant for a quick response and will likely be awarded within weeks to months of your submission.
What Your Organization Should Include In Your Response to a Government Solicitation
Now that you understand the difference between the three solicitation types, RFI, RFP, or RFQ, it is important for you and your organization to know what information should be included in your response package.
Generally speaking, your organization will want to include things such as a table of requirements, explanation of the product or service being requested via the government customer, and a detailed response to the requirements being laid out by the government to ensure they are satisfied with your response. This stage of the solicitation process is when you can use your “homework,” such as market research, to highlight how your product is better than your competition.
For an RFI, You Will Generally Want to:
- Leverage subject matter experts (SMEs) to help draft a response to the government RFI.
- Ask questions. This will often help shape future RFPs/RFQs that the government customer may release.
For an RFP, You Will Generally Want to:
- Understand all RFP requirements being listed by the government customer.
- Address the questions with a response tailored to the customer you want to win ove.
For an RFQ, You Will Generally Want to:
- Provide a price quote that addresses how much it will cost the customer to meet the requirements being listed in the solicitation.
- Response to the customers payment, invoice, and delivery requirements.
Some other important things to consider while looking at RFIs, RFPs, and RFQs are response times, informal vs formal requests, and requirements. You should also have a proposal template and price quote template in place, as well as have easy access to company and contract information such as your government contract vehicle information, DUNS and Cage code, or NAICS code. This information is readily available on SAM.gov if your company is registered.
You will also want to ensure you follow the requirements listed via the government customer on a solicitation, such as following page limits, responding by the deadline, and sending the desired information to the correct contacts.
I Have Submitted My Response to a Government RFI, RFP, or RFQ, Now What?
Now that your company has followed the steps above and submitted a response to the government for their open solicitation, you may find yourself anxiously waiting for a response. While no government solicitation is the same, your organization may find the government generally will provide a notice of award or notice of unsuccessful award within 30-90 days after submitting a response package.
While understanding the information referenced above may certainly help you win a Government RFI, RFP, or RFQ, your organization can also find success hiring a GSA Schedule consultant or partnering with an authorized GSA reseller instead of having the responsibility of holding your own GSA Schedule.
While responding to government solicitations is a great opportunity for your organization, it may be beneficial to consider all options to ensure growth in your public sector sales program. If you have questions about Winvale’s GSA Schedule consultants or our Channel Distribution for Public Sector Program, please contact our team of experts today.
About Bradley Wyatt
Bradley Wyatt is an Account Manager for Winvale’s Public Sector Technology department where he manages partner accounts as part of Winvale’s Schedule 70 Information Technology. Bradley is a native of Fredericksburg, Virginia and a graduate from James Madison University with his Bachelor’s of Science in Public Policy and Administration.