The requests for proposals typically involves more than a price. Other requested information may include basic corporate information and history, financial information (can a company deliver without a risk of bankruptcy), a technical capability (used on major procurements of services, where the item has not previously been made or where the requirement could be met by varying technical means), product information, such as a stock availability and an estimated completion period, and customer references that can be checked to determine a company's suitability. The requests for proposals often include specifications of an item, project or service for which a proposal is requested. The more detailed the specifications are, the better the chances that the proposal provided will be accurate. Generally, requests for proposals are sent to an approved supplier or a vendor list.
The bidders return a proposal by a set date and time. Late proposals may or may not be considered, depending on the terms of the initial requests for proposals. The proposals are used to evaluate the suitability as a supplier, vendor or institutional partner. Discussions may be held on the proposals (often to clarify technical capabilities or to note errors in a proposal). In some instances, all or only selected bidders may be invited to participate in subsequent bids, or may be asked to submit their best technical and financial proposal, commonly referred to as a Best and Final Offer (BAFO).
The requests for proposals have two variations: a Request for Quotation (RFQ) is used where discussions are not required with bidders (mainly when the specifications of a product or service are already known), and the price is the main or only factor in selecting a successful bidder. A Request for Information (RFI) is used to determine what products and services are potentially available in the marketplace to meet a buyer's needs. RFIs are commonly used on major procurements, where a requirement could potentially be met through several alternate means. The RFI, however, is not an invitation to bid, is not binding on either a buyer or sellers, and may or may not lead to the RFP or (RFQ).
As mentioned above, the requests for proposals is usually a part of a complex sales process. Complex sales also known as enterprise sales and can refer to a method of trading, sometimes used by organisations when procuring large contracts for goods and/or services where a customer takes control of the selling process by issuing requests for proposals and requiring a proposal response from previously identified or interested suppliers. More commonly the complex selling involves long sales cycles with multiple decision makers or an on going series of orders and deliverables over a period of time. It is about managing complex business relationships and it often involves multiple stakeholders and stakeholder groups.
Products and services that are sold in this format include: CRM Solutions, commercial security, consulting engineering, training, commercial realestate and fleet vehicle sales. The complex selling can also be used in situations where a person is selling to the government or lobbying for a support from multiple groups or organizations on a particular project or bid. Most big deals and mergers occur as a result of effective complex sales.