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Bid solicitation is a strategy that is used by many companies and other entities as a means of connecting with potential vendors and inviting them to engage in some sort of dialogue about a possible working relationship. Within the context of the solicitation process, there are usually instructions regarding how to initiate the contact and qualify for participation in such opportunities as submitting proposals and quotes for projects, and participating in an auction situation in order to secure goods or services. A number of different communication tools may be used in the process of bid solicitation, including controlled communications by mail and using public media options to reach a wider range of potential candidates.
One of the more pointed approaches to bid solicitation is for companies, governmental agencies and other entities to conduct private research on the front end, then invite vendors who meet their qualifications to provide information on what they can offer both in terms of products and pricing. One common mechanism for this approach is to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) to a select group of potential vendors, then evaluate all proposals that are submitted to determine who will be awarded the business. A similar approach is to issue a request for quotations (RFQ), a strategy that can also be used to either establish a long-term relationship with a vendor or be related to a one-time project.
With a bid solicitation process, it is possible to structure the process in whatever manner is in the best interest of the company. In some cases, the process may involve a request for sealed bids, which means that only those charged with evaluating the proposals or bids actually sees the pricing that all the bidders submit. At other times, such as when an auction process is used as part of the solicitation, a company may allow all potential vendors to see the current lowest bid without necessarily revealing the identity of that low bidder.
Connecting with potential vendors can employ a very broad approach as well as one that is more focused. It is not unusual for state, provincial and even national governments to advertise upcoming projects in all sorts of media in order to encourage any qualified provider to submit a bid in some form. Publicizing the bid solicitation opportunities may involve using print media that is made widely available upon request, or is distributed using direct mail campaigns to reach the widest audience possible. Since the advent of the Internet, it has become increasingly common for government agencies as well as some businesses to establish web sites devoted to current projects that are open for bids. Typically, both the print publications and the web sites will include details about how to go about qualifying for bid submission, details of how to submit a quote or proposal, and how to check on the status of the bid at a later date.