101 sample RFP questions: The ultimate list of questions to ask vendors

Writing a request for proposal (RFP) isn’t easy, especially if you don’t do it every day. Indeed, it’s hard to know what to ask and there’s a lot of pressure to cover all your bases.

Below, you’ll see our top 101 sample questions to use in any RFP. This list includes a range of questions from general information to very specific inquiries. While closed-ended questions are easiest to score, open-ended questions evoke thoughtful, creative answers. Ideally, your RFP should contain a balance of both.

Many of these questions are best suited to an RFP or RFI rather than an RFQ. The sample RFP questions included below are most useful for indirect or strategic sourcing projects where the primary goal is overall, long-term partnership value.

Table of Contents

General questions

These are run-of-the-mill questions that appear in almost every RFP. Nonetheless, these sample RFP questions are important to the process. Generally, these questions are not a factor in your ultimate decision, but exist to provide background information about your vendors.

  • Who will serve as the primary contact for this RFP?
    • Please include the primary contact’s name, title, direct phone number, and email address. Indicate if there will be any secondary contacts and specify their roles in the RFP process.
  • Please provide a company overview.
    • Share a brief history of your company, including founding year, key milestones, and core business areas. Highlight your company’s unique value proposition and how it distinguishes itself from competitors.
  • Where is your company located?
    • Provide the address of your headquarters and note any significant regional or international offices. Explain how your company’s location impacts its service delivery or product distribution.
  • How long have you been in business?
    • State the number of years your company has been operational. If applicable, mention any predecessor entities or major pivots in your business model.
  • Please provide your company’s mission and/or vision statement.
    • Share your company’s mission and vision statements. Explain how these guide your business strategies, culture, and stakeholder engagement.
  • Describe the company structure. (Private, public, partnership, etc)
    • Elaborate on your company’s legal structure. If public, mention the stock exchange and ticker symbol. If private, indicate ownership composition. For partnerships, describe the nature of the partnership and key partners.
  • How many full-time, part-time, and contract employees do you have? (Please provide breakdown)
    • Offer a current employee count, categorizing staff into full-time, part-time, and contract workers. Highlight any significant fluctuations in staffing levels over the past year and reasons for these changes.
  • What awards or recognition has your company received in the last three years?
    • List awards and recognitions, specifying the awarding bodies and the criteria for each accolade. Describe how these awards reflect your company’s strengths and achievements.
  • Is your company affiliated with any industry or professional associations?
    • Name the industry or professional associations your company is a member of. Explain the significance of these affiliations to your business operations and how they keep your company informed and competitive.
  • What licenses or certifications does your company hold?
    • Detail the specific licenses and certifications your company has obtained, including the issuing organizations and validity periods. Explain how these credentials ensure compliance and elevate your company’s qualifications in your industry.
  • Please provide a product or service overview and description.
    • Offer a detailed catalog of your products or services, including key features, benefits, and intended users or markets. Highlight any unique selling points or proprietary technology.
  • Describe your plans for growth over the next 3 years.
    • Share your strategic growth plans, including market expansion, product or service development, and any planned mergers or acquisitions. Discuss anticipated challenges and how your company intends to address them.

Customer questions

This section of sample RFP questions addresses the vendors’ current customers. Again, these questions are informative, but they likely won’t be pivotal in your decision. After all, what’s the ideal answer to a question like ‘how many customers do you serve’? Accordingly, they may not have an assigned value in your weighted scoring.

  • What is your target customer base?
    • Include demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics of your target customer base. Explain how your products or services meet the specific needs and preferences of this group.
  • How many customers do you currently serve?
    • Provide the total number of active customers you serve. If possible, break down this number by major segments or markets to offer a clearer picture of your customer distribution.
  • What is your customer retention rate?
    • Share your customer retention rate over a specific period, typically annually. Discuss any strategies or practices your company employs to maintain high retention rates.
  • Who are your five biggest customers?
    • List your five largest customers without breaching any confidentiality agreements. Briefly describe the nature of services or products provided to these customers and the duration of your relationship.
  • What percentage of your revenue comes from the top three accounts?
    • Indicate what portion of your total revenue is attributed to your top three accounts. Explain how this impacts your business strategy and risk management.
  • How long is your average customer relationship?
    • Provide the average duration of customer relationships across your client base. Highlight any key factors that contribute to sustaining long-term relationships with your clients.
  • Are any of our primary competitors customers? (Competitor 1, Competitor 2, Competitor 3)
    • Confirm if any of your clients also do business with our identified competitors. Discuss how you differentiate your offerings to maintain these customer relationships in a competitive market.
  • Please provide contact information for three customer references.
    • Supply the names, titles, companies, phone numbers, and email addresses for three references. Choose references that reflect a range of experiences and successes with your company’s products or services.
  • On average, what ROI do customers report after using your service/product?
    • Describe the typical return on investment your customers experience, supported by any statistics or case studies. Explain the factors that contribute to these outcomes and how you measure ROI for your clients.

Competitor questions

While some procurement managers shy away from asking vendors about their competitors, it’s worth considering. RFP questions like this can reveal new vendors that you may have missed. In addition, the way that vendors respond is often revealing.

For instance, do they answer candidly or vaguely? Do they tailor their list of competitors to your needs and use case? How well do they keep up with trends within the industry? All interesting questions when you’re considering a long-term relationship.

  • Who are your top three competitors?
    • Identify your top three competitors in the market. Provide a brief overview of each competitor, including their market share, key strengths, and how your offerings compare to theirs.
  • What are your primary competitive differentiators?
    • Outline the key factors that distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors. This could include aspects such as unique technology, customer service excellence, price competitiveness, or innovation in product development.
  • Why should we work with you instead of one of your competitors?
    • Highlight the specific advantages and benefits that your company offers over competitors. Focus on what makes your approach or solutions more effective, efficient, or valuable to clients like us.
  • Are there alternative solutions that could better meet our needs?
    • Discuss any alternative solutions or approaches, including those offered by competitors, that might also meet our needs. Explain why your solution is preferable, considering factors such as cost, scalability, or alignment with our strategic goals.
  • Describe current industry trends and how your company keeps us on the leading edge.
    • Provide an analysis of current trends impacting your industry and how your company is positioned to leverage these trends for innovation and growth. Explain how your solutions or services are evolving in response to these trends to ensure clients remain competitive.

Functionality and deliverables questions

Now we’re into the heavy-hitting questions. Indeed, these RFP questions carry significant weight in your RFP scoring process. Depending on your priorities, this section may be the most important and therefore, the highest value in your scoring.

These sample RFP questions should be customized to meet the needs of your project. For instance, consider including a table with a list of all of your minimum requirements. Also add a corresponding column that allows prospective vendors to indicate their ability to comply with each requirement with yes, no or partially.

  • Please indicate your ability to meet our RFP requirements.
    • Describe your company’s capability and experience in fulfilling similar RFP requirements. Include examples of past projects or solutions that demonstrate your ability to meet or exceed the specified criteria.
  • Provide a sample timeline for our outlined deliverables.
    • Offer a provisional timeline that outlines major milestones, phases, and estimated completion dates for the deliverables specified in the RFP. Mention any assumptions or dependencies that could impact the timeline.
  • Do you recommend any customization or additional features to achieve our goals?
    • Suggest any customizations or additional features that could enhance the effectiveness or efficiency of the proposed solution in meeting our goals. Explain the benefits and any potential impact on timeline or budget.
  • What self-service reporting tools are available to us?
    • Detail the self-service reporting tools your solution offers, including features, capabilities, and how these tools can help us in monitoring performance, generating insights, and making data-driven decisions.
  • How do you determine your roadmap and/or product strategy?
    • Explain the process for defining your product roadmap and strategy, including how customer feedback, market trends, and technological advancements are incorporated. Discuss how you prioritize features or enhancements.
  • What integrations are available?
    • List the integrations currently available with your product or service, including common software, platforms, or APIs. Describe how these integrations can enhance functionality and efficiency for clients.
  • When are updates and enhancements delivered to customers?
    • Describe your schedule for rolling out updates and enhancements, including any standard maintenance windows or version release cycles. Mention how clients are notified and supported through updates.
  • What is your company’s approach to project management?
    • Outline your project management methodology, including how projects are planned, monitored, and reported. Highlight the tools and practices you use to ensure projects stay on track and stakeholders are kept informed.
  • How often are projects completed on time and within budget?
    • Share statistics or percentages that reflect your track record for completing projects on time and within budget. Discuss any measures or practices you have in place to manage timelines and costs effectively.
  • What action, participation or documentation is required from our organization to ensure timely implementation?
    • Detail the specific actions, participation, or documentation needed from our side to facilitate a smooth and timely implementation process. Include any critical milestones where our input or decision-making is essential.

Experience and approach questions

This section of RFP questions is designed to inspect each vendor’s qualifications. If you already performed a request for qualifications (RFQ), and narrowed your vendor selection to only those that pre-qualified, you may decide to omit these questions.

  • What experience do you have working with organizations like ours?
    • Outline your history and experience in working with organizations of our size, industry, and complexity. Highlight any specific challenges you have addressed and how your solutions benefited similar clients.
  • Please provide any relevant case studies.
    • Share case studies that detail your work with organizations similar to ours, including the objectives, strategies employed, outcomes, and any measurable impact your services or products had on their success.
  • What resources will be dedicated to our account?
    • Describe the team composition and resources that will be allocated to our account, including roles, expertise, and how they will contribute to achieving our objectives.
  • Provide brief biographies and project experience for primary contacts assigned to our account.
    • Offer brief biographies of the key personnel who will be directly involved with our account, highlighting their qualifications, relevant experience, and past projects that demonstrate their capability to manage and deliver on our needs.
  • How often will you report our progress and results?
    • Specify the frequency and format of progress and results reporting. Explain how these reports will provide insights into the achievements against KPIs and objectives.
  • What technology do you leverage to ensure excellent customer communication and experience?
    • Detail the technologies and platforms you use to facilitate seamless communication, project management, and customer service. Explain how these tools enhance the overall customer experience and project success.
  • Provide a list of the standard report options, what each includes and available formats.
    • List the standard reports available to clients, including a description of the information each report covers, such as performance metrics, progress updates, and insights. Mention the formats in which these reports can be delivered.
  • How are usage and performance reports provided?
    • Explain the process for generating and delivering usage and performance reports, including the frequency of these reports and how they can be accessed by clients.
  • What KPIs do you track and report?
    • Identify the key performance indicators (KPIs) you typically track and report on for projects similar to ours. Describe how these KPIs align with project objectives and how they are used to gauge success.
  • Describe your approach to continuous process improvement.
    • Outline your methodology for identifying areas for improvement, implementing changes, and measuring the impact of those changes. Discuss how client feedback and performance data drive your process improvement efforts.

Customer success questions

Often overlooked, customer success questions are crucial to selecting the right vendor for long-term engagements. Including these sample RFP questions gives you a sense of what it’s like to work with this vendor, what you can expect and how you’ll stay in touch after the contract is executed.

  • On average, how long does implementation take?
    • Provide an estimated timeframe for the full implementation of your solution or service from initiation to completion. Highlight any factors that could influence this timeline.
  • What is your averaged time to value (TtV)?
    • Share the average time customers typically start seeing value from your solution or service. Explain the stages in the implementation or usage process where value becomes evident.
  • Describe your training and onboarding process.
    • Outline the steps involved in your training and onboarding process for new clients, including any materials, workshops, webinars, or support provided to ensure a smooth transition and quick adoption of your services or products.
  • What is required from a customer to ensure success?
    • Specify the inputs, commitments, or actions required from the customer’s side to guarantee the successful implementation and optimal use of your solution or service.
  • Do you have a change management process?
    • Describe your approach to managing changes during the project lifecycle, including how changes are identified, assessed, approved, and communicated to ensure minimal disruption and maintain alignment with project goals.
  • What is a successful customer journey to your organization?
    • Define what a successful customer journey looks like from initial engagement through to long-term partnership, including key milestones and outcomes that signify success.
  • Do you conduct quarterly business reviews with customers?
    • Confirm whether you engage in regular business reviews with clients, focusing on the objectives, frequency, and content of these reviews to ensure ongoing alignment and address any areas for improvement.
  • How do you provide updates, track progress and ensure our success?
    • Explain the mechanisms in place for providing regular updates and tracking progress against agreed objectives. Discuss how you collaborate with clients to adjust strategies and actions to ensure success.
  • Please provide a list of self-service tools or resources that are available after onboarding.
    • List the self-service tools and resources, such as knowledge bases, user forums, FAQs, and online training modules, that clients can access independently to resolve issues or enhance their use of your product or service.
  • How do you manage customer requests, complaints, concerns and feedback?
    • Detail the process for handling customer interactions, from logging requests or complaints to resolution and follow-up. Highlight how feedback is incorporated into your continuous improvement efforts.
  • Do you use in-house or outsourced resources for customer support?
    • Clarify whether your customer support function is managed in-house or outsourced, including the rationale for your approach and how it benefits the quality and responsiveness of your support services.

Pricing questions

What is it going to cost? There are a lot of ways to ask and this list of RFP questions will help you gather the right information. Similar to other RFP questions, these should be customized to meet the needs of your current project.

  • Provide a pricing estimate based on the scope described.
    • Offer a comprehensive pricing estimate tailored to the specific scope outlined in the RFP, including both initial setup costs and ongoing fees. Ensure transparency in how the estimate is calculated to provide a clear understanding of the value provided.
  • Please describe your current pricing model/methodology.
    • Detail the approach you use to structure pricing for your products or services, whether it’s subscription-based, tiered, usage-based, or a custom pricing model. Explain how this model aligns with the value delivered to customers.
  • What are the itemized one-time, startup costs and recurring annual/monthly costs?
    • Break down the costs associated with your solution or service into one-time, startup fees and ongoing, recurring charges. Itemize these costs to include any setup, licensing, or initial training expenses.
  • Please list all services and features included in the proposed pricing.
    • Provide a detailed list of all services, features, and functionalities included within the quoted pricing, highlighting any key features that differentiate your offering from competitors.
  • What limits are imposed upon users, training hours, professional services, and data storage?
    • Specify any limitations that apply to the use of your service or product, such as the number of users, hours of training included, access to professional services, and data storage capacity.
  • At what level do you provide volume discounts?
    • Explain the thresholds or criteria for volume discounts within your pricing structure. Clarify how these discounts are applied and the level of commitment required to qualify for them.
  • Describe your upgrade process if we need to increase our scope.
    • Outline the process for adjusting the scope of service, including how upgrades can be initiated, the evaluation of additional needs, and how changes are priced and implemented.
  • What are your cancellation/renewal terms?
    • Detail the terms and conditions surrounding contract cancellations and renewals, including any notice periods, fees, or conditions that must be met for either action.
  • How do you ensure your pricing remains competitive?
    • Discuss the strategies you employ to maintain competitive pricing, including regular market analysis, value-based pricing practices, and how you balance quality and cost to offer compelling value to customers.

Risk management questions

Risk management is an important part of the procurement process in general as well as the RFP process specifically. Thus, risk questions like these should be included in your RFP or sent as part of a separate vendor risk assessment.

  • Is your organization GDPR compliant?
    • Confirm your organization’s compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), detailing the measures and processes in place to protect personal data and ensure privacy rights are respected.
  • Describe your regulatory compliance process.
    • Outline the framework and processes your organization follows to stay compliant with relevant regulations and standards within your industry. Highlight how you monitor changes in legislation and implement necessary adjustments.
  • Are there any pending legal issues or complaints against your company?
    • Disclose any current legal disputes or formal complaints filed against your company, providing context and how these issues are being addressed or resolved.
  • Share statistics about technology stability/reliability and down times.
    • Provide data on the stability and reliability of your technology solutions, including average uptime statistics and records of significant downtime incidents, along with explanations of how these were mitigated.
  • Please provide your business continuity and emergency preparedness plan.
    • Share details of your business continuity and emergency response strategies, including procedures for data backup, disaster recovery, and ensuring operational resilience in the face of unforeseen events.
  • How often does the company update and test the continuity and preparedness plans?
    • State the frequency at which your business continuity and emergency preparedness plans are reviewed, updated, and tested to ensure they remain effective and relevant.
  • Is your organization equipped to work remotely?
    • Describe your organization’s capabilities and infrastructure to support remote work, including technology tools, security measures, and policies in place to maintain productivity and collaboration.
  • How do you manage price volatility with your suppliers?
    • Explain the strategies or mechanisms you employ to manage and mitigate the impact of price volatility from your suppliers, ensuring stable pricing and supply chain continuity.
  • Describe your approach to staff retention. What is the average turnover rate for the last five years?
    • Detail your strategies for retaining staff, including employee engagement, development opportunities, and workplace culture initiatives. Provide the average turnover rate for your organization over the past five years, offering insight into the effectiveness of your retention efforts.

Data security questions

Ensuring the integrity of your data is essential no matter what you’re purchasing. While some RFPs group data security with vendor risk, it can be helpful to give each its own section. Supplement these sample RFP questions with regular security risk assessments.

  • Describe your backup and data recovery policy.
    • Detail your organization’s approach to data backup and recovery, including the frequency of backups, types of data backed up, storage locations, and the process for restoring data in the event of data loss or corruption.
  • Where do you host your software and customer data?
    • Specify the hosting environment for your software and customer data, including whether it’s on-premises, cloud-based, or a hybrid model. Mention the geographical location of your data centers and any relevant security certifications they hold.
  • Are you SOC compliant? ISO certified? If so, what is your current level?
    • Confirm your compliance with SOC (Service Organization Control) and ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards, specifying which types of SOC reports you have (e.g., SOC 2 Type II) and which ISO certifications (e.g., ISO 27001), including the level or version of these certifications.
  • What are the results of your most recent penetration test?
    • Share the findings from your most recent penetration testing, including the scope of the test, any vulnerabilities identified, and the steps taken to address these vulnerabilities.
  • Describe how security vulnerabilities are identified and mitigated.
    • Outline the processes and tools in place for identifying and mitigating security vulnerabilities, including regular security audits, vulnerability scanning, and the protocol for responding to discovered vulnerabilities.
  • Is our data accessed and used by your company?
    • Clarify the circumstances under which your company accesses and uses customer data, detailing the purposes for such access and the measures in place to ensure data privacy and security.
  • Have you experienced downtime in the last two years? If so, how long were customers impacted?
    • Disclose any instances of significant downtime your service has experienced in the past two years, including the duration of the outage, the cause, and how it was resolved.
  • What are your data import and export capabilities?
    • Describe the capabilities and processes for importing data into and exporting data out of your system, including supported formats, tools, and any limitations or restrictions on data movement.

Sustainability questions

These RFP questions cover vendor sustainability. Indeed, partnering with vendors who share your company’s values is increasingly important to maintaining your brand reputation. Asking these questions in your RFP ensures your ongoing sustainability efforts and initiatives won’t be derailed after you’ve signed a contract.

  • Do you have a corporate responsibility policy? If so, please provide it.
    • Share your corporate responsibility policy, outlining your commitments to ethical business practices, community engagement, environmental sustainability, and how these commitments are integrated into your business operations.
  • What sustainability accreditations and certifications do you hold?
    • List any sustainability-related accreditations and certifications your organization has achieved, including details about the issuing bodies and the standards or criteria met to obtain these credentials.
  • Who in your business monitors, manages and reports sustainability efforts and impacts?
    • Identify the team or individual responsible for overseeing your sustainability initiatives, including their role in monitoring, managing, and reporting on the environmental and social impacts of your business activities.
  • Do you measure the sustainability performance of your vendors and subcontractors?
    • Explain the process for evaluating the sustainability performance of your vendors and subcontractors, including any criteria or standards they are expected to meet as part of your supply chain.
  • Do you track, report and manage your use of energy, water and chemicals?
    • Describe the systems and practices in place for tracking, reporting, and managing the consumption and impact of energy, water, and chemicals in your operations.
  • How can we partner with you to enhance environmental sustainability in our mutual supply chain?
    • Suggest ways in which your organization and potential clients can collaborate to improve environmental sustainability within the supply chain, including shared initiatives or programs.
  • Do you use renewable energy?
    • Confirm whether your operations utilize renewable energy sources. Detail the extent of renewable energy use and any future plans to increase this usage.
  • How does your organization give back to or serve your community?
    • Highlight the initiatives and programs your organization participates in to support and give back to local communities, including volunteer efforts, donations, and community service projects.
  • Do you enforce a supplier code of conduct? If so, please provide it.
    • Indicate if your organization has a supplier code of conduct that outlines the ethical, environmental, and social standards expected of your suppliers. Provide a copy or summary of this code.
  • Provide any other company mandates concerning your purchasing philosophy and strategy.
    • Share details about your company’s purchasing philosophy and strategy, including how sustainability, ethical sourcing, and community impact factor into your decision-making and vendor selection processes.
  • Does your organization publish an environmental performance report?
    • Confirm whether your organization publishes an annual or periodic environmental performance report. Describe the type of information included, such as carbon footprint, resource usage, and progress towards sustainability goals, and how it can be accessed.

Diversity and inclusion questions

Procurement teams have a unique power to support diversity initiatives. These RFP questions help your team understand each vendor’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Please provide any current diversity certifications.
    • List any diversity certifications your organization has received, such as those related to being a minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, or LGBTQ+-owned business. Include the certifying bodies and the dates of certification.
  • Does your company have a supplier diversity program? If so, please provide.
    • Describe your supplier diversity program, including its objectives, the types of diverse suppliers it targets, and how the program is implemented and managed within your procurement processes.
  • What percentage of your employees are women and/or minorities?
    • Share the current percentage of your workforce that is comprised of women and minorities. If available, provide a breakdown by department or role to give a clearer picture of diversity across the organization.
  • What percentage of senior leadership is women or minorities?
    • Indicate the percentage of your senior leadership team that consists of women and minorities. Discuss any initiatives or goals to increase diversity within leadership positions.
  • Does your organization have a diversity and inclusion goal and how do you track progress?
    • Outline any specific diversity and inclusion goals your organization has set, including the metrics or benchmarks used to track progress towards these goals.
  • Have there been any claims of sexual or general harassment, misconduct or discrimination in the last 5 years? Please provide details, if so.
    • Disclose any incidents of harassment, misconduct, or discrimination reported within the last five years, including the nature of the claims and the outcomes of any investigations or actions taken in response.
  • For last year, what percentage of your company’s procurement spend was with women, minority and veteran-owned businesses?
    • Provide statistics on the percentage of your procurement budget spent with women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in the last fiscal year, including any targets or goals for future spending with diverse suppliers.

And there you have it — 101 sample RFP questions to help ensure your next RFP is a success. If you’re interested in more ways to improve your RFP process, consider exploring RFP management software.  Sourcing software, like RFP360, centralizes the RFx process and makes it easy to create, save and edit templates for any information request.

Watch this video for a quick overview of how RFP software can empower you and your team.

Wendy Gittleson

Wendy has more than 10 years experience as a B2B and B2C copywriter. She developed a passion for writing about tech from living in the San Francisco Bay Area and working for a technology school. From there, she transitioned to writing about everything from SaaS to hardware and cloud migration. She is excited to be part of the wonderful team at Responsive and looks forward to playing her part in building the future. Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn.

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