Are you in a market where customers buy using Requests for Proposal (RFP)? If so, there may be a wealth of intelligence waiting to be gained by analyzing competitor responses.
RFP responses can provide valuable insight into a competitor’s inner workings. Depending on the type of request and its requirements, an RFP response might include details about a competitor’s labor and material costs, time estimates, task descriptions, profit rates, implementation processes, and licensing fees.
Many of these documents are technically public, but can be difficult to track down without considerable time and effort. Let’s look at three ways to collect RFP responses:
Freedom of Information Act Requests
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is a request to release non-confidential government documents that are not readily available to the public. When a contractor submits a proposal for a government contract, the winning response is considered a government document for the purposes of the FOIA. At that point, anyone interested can submit a FOIA request to obtain a copy of the proposal. If your competition wins a government contract, reviewing their successful RPF bid could reveal useful details about their business’s inner workings.
Unfortunately, submitting a FOIA request can be daunting. To simplify the process, some companies offer FOIA request management services. These vendors will walk you through the procedure, from drafting a request letter to negotiating FOIA exemptions. If your request is rejected, in whole or in part, a FOIA request vendor will use its expertise to adjust the scope of your request until it’s accepted. These vendors will also follow-up on lagging requests and negotiate the associated fees, so that your business receives the right information at a reasonable price. However, request management services can be expensive in their own right.
Some Request for Proposal documents are posted online, making them easier to access, not to mention free. Google searches will sometimes uncover competitors’ bid proposals if you know the correct syntax and don’t mind filtering through the clutter. Similarly, checking county, state and federal websites on a regular basis may catch RFP-related documents when they are uploaded. This approach keeps costs low and eliminates the need to go through an external vendor, but it can also be an inefficient way to capture information.
Performing manual searches takes time and skill. Depending on your industry space and the frequency with which your competitors respond to RFPs, you may go weeks or months at a time without finding anything useful. And without a systemic approach, manual internet searches can miss valuable documents that are tucked away various websites, waiting to be discovered.
Automated Web Scraping - A New Approach
As an alternative to FOIA requests and manual searches, many companies are turning to vendors that specialize in extracting information from the web. Using sophisticated web-scraping algorithms, these vendors can find relevant RFP documents automatically and deliver them directly to the client’s inbox, usually at a lower price point than a FOIA service.
For example, CI Radar’s process has found some very powerful results recently for clients.
In the financial services sector, CI Radar discovered a comparison matrix of the vendors’ RFP pricing responses that proved invaluable to the client. The document provides a breakdown of the customer’s decision-making criteria, as well as a full fee breakdown for each of the client’s top competitors. This provided the client with great insights into its competitors’ pricing strategies.
In the public safety sector, CI Radar recently uncovered RFP responses for a client that had never seen them before. The client quickly discovered that there was a wealth of information to be found in these documents, and they have started utilizing them on a regular basis. CI Radar also uncovered several open RFPs and delivered them directly to the client’s sales team for immediate action and potential newly found revenue.
If you’re interested in learning more about automated web scraping for RFPs, schedule a demo with CI Radar today.