Where to Find Top Quality Suppliers for Your Next RFP


The Request for Proposal (RFP) is a common process used by businesses to find the best suppliers for their requirement. By considering multiple suppliers, businesses can understand the current market, make comparisons and minimise risk. There are many reasons why renewing contracts with the same suppliers over time seems advantageous. However, by doing so, businesses can miss opportunities for better value contracts, be unaware of market insights and miss out on the top suppliers in their industry.

What is a Request ForProposal (RFP)?

An RFP is a formal document, outlining a business’s intent to purchase goods or services. The document is then issued by the business to request vendor or supplier bids for the requested goods or services. Suppliers will then respond to the RFP and the business proceeds with its procurement process. A good RFP will provide a strong background, clear requirement and will be issued only to suitable suppliers.


Where to find quality suppliers for your RFP

So how can you go about finding the right suppliers to send your RFPs to? Here are our best tips for finding top quality suppliers


1. Search Engines

Search engines offer one of the best ways to find suppliers on a large scale for free. We suggest using Google or Bing to get the most results. Most businesses will have an online presence with websites, therefore showing on search engines. Take advantage of the search functionalities and use specific keywords to narrow down your search by type and/or location.

To avoid spending lots of time scrolling through pages of results, try to vary your keywords to ensure you don’t miss out on suppliers that could meet your needs. Also, take the opportunity to look at any reviews left via the search engines business highlight function.


2. Trade Shows/Exhibitions

Whilst this isn’t the best option for urgent or short-term requirements, it is worth considering trade shows and exhibitions as a means of finding suppliers. Networking is a great way of finding more information on suppliers than a result online will give you.

Fortunately, as the year has gone on, businesses are being given the opportunity to network in person rather than being restricted to virtual events. Going to shows will give you a better feel for what companies are out there and how they present themselves publicly as a business.  


3. Trade directories

Looking at business to business trade directories is clearly a great way of finding suppliers. Directories allow you to be specific in your niche and often have access to hundreds of thousands of suppliers. Unlike search engines, all of the results you are shown are suppliers or vendors and don’t fall victim to low search rankings that make them hard to find.  


Some directories include:

·  Thomasnet

·  esources

·  TheWholesaler

·  Great

·  Alibaba


4. Industry reports

One way of finding suppliers is to look at industry analytics and rankings to find the top suppliers in your field. Websites like Clutch show the top ranking manufacturer suppliers whilst websites like TechMarketView show IT and Software suppliers. A quick search on Google will provide you with the latest reports and industry finding on suppliers that are suitable for you.


5. Social Media

Social media platforms are another effective, free way to find quality suppliers. Most companies will have a social media presence these days and they can be relatively simple to find. LinkedIn is a great option forB2B networking and therefore most businesses will be present on there.

Twitter has a great discovery function with hashtags being a tool you can use to find suitable accounts. Using the right hashtags, you’ll find articles, accounts, as well as see what previous customers are saying.Facebook and Instagram provide another opportunity to find suppliers through their platforms.


6. Recommendations

Lastly, a great way to find suppliers is via word of mouth recommendations. Using your existing network, find out more about others experiences with suppliers. Recommendations are a great way to feel confident in a supplier’s services and therefore include them in any potential lists.

So now that you have your list of quality suppliers you are ready to send out your RFPs. To maximise your success, make sure you have the following in place before sending out your RFPs:

· Well defined criteria. Have you truly defined what your requirement is and therefore what kind of supplier you should be looking for? Remember that RFPs are formal documents that suppliers invest time in responding to, so make sure you have confidence in the criteria you set out. This can include location, size and even company revenue.

· Data capture process. Discovering suppliers will mean capturing lots of information that you want to manage and store accurately. Automated systems offer a great opportunity to manage this information, meaning you have it on hand for future RFPs also. Depending on the functionality of your system, you may also be able to manage and track any communications you make. If a full system is not possible, a simple excel file should be used at the least for ensuring your data is stored someplace.


How can we help?

If your business needs help with the RFP process, our trusted experts are here to assist you. We can design, develop and draft yourRFP documents and issue and manage communications with suppliers. We can also manage the clarification question process both internally and externally.

Get in touch today for help or advice and don’t forget to explore our other blogs on the bid management process for more helpful insights into bid management and strategy.

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