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What Is the Difference Between an RFQ vs. RFP?

Looking for the difference between an RFQ and RFP? Learn more about RFQs vs. RFPs in this guide.

Whenever you buy something, you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal. To do so, you scour the internet, read reviews, and compare prices until you can feel confident with your purchase. This process is something done by customers, but it’s also something that businesses do when they need to purchase an item or service for a project.

In order for a business to know they’re getting the best deal for a project, they need their potential vendors to submit an RFQ (request for quote) or an RFP (request for proposal). These documents can help a business decide which vendor to use.

But what is the difference between an RFQ vs. RFP? In the article below, you’ll learn more about an RFQ vs. RFP, and what instances they should be used in so you can select the right one for your business.

What is an RFQ?

An RFQ, or request for quote, is a document used by a business to ask another company for the price of a product or service. An RFQ contains specific information about the product or service a business is looking to purchase. A business will use an RFQ if they already know what they’re looking to buy and how much they want to spend but need more information about the price of the product or service.

An RFQ is typically used during the procurement process, and businesses will send them to other companies with who they’re interested in working. The other company will then respond to the RFQ with the price estimate and any additional necessary information. Some of the information that you’ll likely find in an RFQ include the vendor’s cost, payment terms, and product details. The purpose of an RFQ is ultimately to help a business make a more informed decision of which vendor they should work with so they can get the lowest possible price.

What is an RFP?

An RFP, or request for proposal, is a document used by a business to ask another company for more details about a product or service. The main difference between RFP and RFQ is that an RFQ is sent when a business already knows what they want to purchase and only needs more information about the price, and an RFP is sent when a business needs more detailed information about the product or service itself.

An RFP is typically a more complicated and lengthy document than an RFQ because it contains more information than just the price. An RFP should be used by a business when they need to evaluate various factors about a product or service in addition to the price. An RFP essentially evaluates the overall value that a vendor can offer so a business can decide which vendor they should purchase from. Because of this, a response to an RFP will contain more detailed information about the vendor, such as their experience, reputation, and skills.

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What are the differences between an RFQ and RFP?

Now that you know what an RFP and RFQ are, let’s go over the differences between the two. It’s important to know the differences between an RFP vs. RFQ so you can use them in the appropriate situations. They’re both important documents to use when purchasing something for your business, but you need to know the differences so that you can select the right one depending on what you’re looking to achieve.


One of the biggest differences between an RFP and RFQ is how they’re structured and the information they contain. An RFQ is briefer than an RFP because it’s used to find out about the price of a product or service, while an RFP is used to find out more general details. These are the main differences in the structure of an RFQ vs. RFP:

RFQ structure

  • Company information: This will contain a general description of your company and the requirements you need for the product or service. Include any important information that you think the vendor will need to make a bid on the project.
  • Project goals: This should be an outline of your project goals and how you intend to use the products/services you purchase to help you achieve these goals.
  • Timeline: Here, provide a detailed timeline for the expected delivery of the product/service.
  • Pricing: Outline your preferred payment terms and what you’re looking to spend. You can also ask your vendors to include their pricing methods so you can get an idea of what strategies they use.
  • Contact information: Be sure to include contact information so the vendor can easily get in contact with you if they have any questions.

RFP structure

  • Company information: Here, provide an introduction to your company and your values, such as the services that you provide and what makes you unique, along with contact information.
  • Project overview: This should be an overview of your project so your potential vendors can have an idea of the goals and objectives that you’re trying to achieve. You should also clearly explain the pain points you’re trying to solve with this project.
  • Budget: Provide a budget or price range that you’re willing to spend so your vendors can have an idea of how much you’re working with.
  • Goals: You should clearly state the goals you’re aiming to achieve with your project. Include quantitative metrics if possible.
  • Timeline: Explain the timeline you’re working with and when you expect the project to be completed.
  • Proposal: This will explain how you want the vendors’ proposals to be structured and what you want them to include in their responses.
  • Evaluation criteria: This will outline the criteria you’ll be using to select a vendor to work with. You should include the priorities and must-haves that you’re looking for.
  • Contact information: Include your contact information so the vendor can get in contact with you.


The main difference between an RFQ and RFP is the purpose that it serves. Both serve distinct purposes, but it’s important to know the differences between them so that you can select the perfect vendor for your business and accomplish your project goals.

  • RFQs: An RFQ is used when you already know exactly what you want and what you’re going to be using it for, but you need more information about the price of the product or service.
  • RFPs: An RFP is used when you’re not sure exactly what products or services you need to complete a project, and you want to shop around before making a decision on a vendor. With an RFP, you’re looking for more concrete information about a product or service so you can evaluate multiple factors before making a choice.


Another difference between an RFP and RFQ is the questions that are asked. RFQs ask questions about pricing to meet the requirements of a project. RFPs ask questions about a product or service, such as price, how it works, and the vendor’s business.

It’s important to figure out which questions need to be answered so that you choose the right vendor who meets all your qualifications. You need to thoroughly vet all your potential vendors and make sure that they can answer all the questions you have.


The process for an RFQ differs from the process for an RFP. While they’re both used for purchasing a product or service from a vendor, the process of using each is very different.

The process of using an RFQ will look something like the following:

  • Write the RFQ: First things first, you need to write your RFQ. The details of an RFQ will differ for each business, but in general, it should contain the following information:
    • Quantity of goods
    • Prices
    • Payment terms
    • Length of project
    • Estimate the number of hours for labor
  • Identify vendors: Once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re looking to get from a vendor and have written the RFQ, then you need to identify potential vendors. You want to choose vendors who are reputable, experienced, and whose values align with your own. Narrowing down your potential vendors first can make your decision-making process much easier.
  • Send RFQ to vendors: After you’ve identified a few potential vendors who you might want to work with, then you need to send the RFQ to them. Make sure you give the vendors adequate time to respond to you.
  • Review RFQ responses: Once you’ve received responses from all of your potential vendors, then it’s time to review the responses. It’s a good idea to use a template to review the responses so you can ensure you’re evaluating everyone based on the same standards. This is also why it’s important that all of your RFQs are identical and you ask everyone for the same information.
  • Choose vendor: Now that you’ve reviewed all the responses to your RFQs, then comes the exciting part: choosing a vendor to work with. You’re going to be working closely with this business, so you want to be absolutely positive about your choice. It’s also important to inform the other candidates that they weren’t chosen and thank them for their time. However, as a general rule of thumb, you should wait until all contracts are signed and the deal is finalized before letting the other vendors know they weren’t chosen.

The process of using an RFP is slightly different from an RFQ. It will resemble something like the following:

  • Identify the scope of the project: Before you can get started with actually crafting your RFP, you need to identify the scope of your project. What will your project entail? What goals are you looking to achieve? And how do you plan to achieve them? You need to have the answers to these questions so you can have a clear understanding of the type of vendors you’re looking for. Your RFP should inform vendors of the problem that you are looking to address, so you need to identify your pain points before searching for vendors.
  • Search for vendors: Once you’ve figured out the details of your project and what you’re hoping to achieve with your project, then you can start searching for vendors. You should select vendors who are highly qualified and experienced in your industry so you can have peace of mind that the vendor you choose is going to be professional and reputable.
  • Write the RFP: After you’ve selected a few vendors to send your RFP to, then comes the time to write it out. You may have a thousand questions that you want to be answered, but you should try to keep your RFP as concise as possible and stick to only asking the important questions, like who their competitors are and if they can provide references and reviews. You can even ask them to provide a competitor analysis so you can see how they compare to other vendors.
  • Send out the RFP: After you’ve crafted a well-written RFP, then you can send it out to your potential vendors. Always make sure you provide them with ample time from when you send the RFP to when the responses are due so that they can formulate a good response.
  • Review RFP submissions: Once you’ve received all of the final submissions from your vendors, then you can review their responses. To do this, you should first compare critical factors in their responses and immediately eliminate vendors who aren’t qualified. Once you’ve narrowed down your list to just a few options, then you should make an even more in-depth comparison and weigh the pros and cons of each choice. Make sure you use the same scoring criteria for each vendor to eliminate any bias.
  • Make your selection: Once you’ve read all the responses and have a thorough understanding of what each vendor can bring to the table, then it’s time to make your selection. Once you’ve chosen someone to work with, you can then create, issue, and sign a contract to finalize the decision. Make sure everything is finalized with the vendor you choose before letting the other vendors know that they were not chosen. Be sure to always thank them for their time even if they were not picked for the job.

When should you use an RFQ?

There is an assortment of situations when it would be appropriate to use an RFQ. You should mainly use an RFQ when you know exactly what service or product you are looking to purchase and need more information about the price. With an RFQ, you already know the exact quantities and requirements you’re looking for, making the price the deciding factor.

For example, let’s say you’re looking for a caterer to supply food for an event you’re hosting. You know exactly what type of food you want and how many meals you need to be supplied, and all you need from potential vendors is their pricing so that you can figure out which is the best deal.

When should you use an RFP?

RFPs are typically used for larger purchases when you have an idea of your project’s objectives but don’t know any of the specific details. In this case, you’re looking for a more comprehensive outline of what the vendor can offer, rather than just the price. You will choose a vendor based on who can offer the best solution instead of who has the best price.

For example, say you’re looking to hire a freelancer to handle your business’s social media. You know that your goal is to increase engagement and improve your social media presence, but you don’t know where to start. In this case, you need to choose a freelancer who has a lot of experience with social media, has positive reviews, and can provide you with the right solutions to solve your issue.

Wrapping up: RFQ vs RFP

No matter what your business is or what industry you’re in, there will most likely come a time when you need to use an RFQ or an RFP for a project your company is working on. This is why it’s so important to know the differences between an RFQ vs. RFP so that you can select the right one for your business. The goal of both an RFQ and an RFP is to help you make a more informed decision about which vendor you should work with for a project so that you can accomplish your business goals.

If you need help with setting goals for your business or managing your business processes, you can use Mailchimp to help you out. Mailchimp is an all-in-one email marketing platform that helps small business owners take control of their marketing efforts so they can reach new audiences and expand their brands.

Mailchimp offers a host of helpful resources and tools that you can use to run your business more efficiently. Whether you need help with transactional emails, workflow automation, or information on how to price your products, you can find all the resources you need to accomplish your business goals on Mailchimp.

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