So you’ve sent out an RFQ for a mission-critical part. Now what? How long will it take to get an answer, if one even comes at all? How long are you prepared to wait before you finally receive a no-quote?

In this post, we look at the data to get a sense of how long it'll be until you get a quote. Based on a dataset of 100,000 recent quotes, we look at the effects of time of day and priority on the response time [1].

When are most RFQs sent?

If we look at the eight-hour period with the most RFQs sent, we see that this is the standard nine-to-five work day for UTC-2. However, it’s safe to assume that most RFQs don’t originate in this time zone, as the only country residing in UTC-2 is South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. That is, unless sea lions are sending thousands of RFQs.

Sales operation in UTC-2

When are most quotes sent?

Similarly, the eight-hour period with the most quotes sent is in UTC-4, which is approaching standard working hours for the east coast in North America. For those in the United States and Canada, quotes are buzzing and flying around throughout the day.

How long does it take to get a quote?

Of all answered RFQs, about 1 in 3 are answered in the first hour. 83% are answered within a day. For many, this is good news, as they’re likely to receive a quote soon. On the other hand, if there’s no response within the first day, don’t lose hope. There’s still a chance of receiving a quote, leaving you in the 11% of those who get a response after two days. That said, you might consider sending a follow-up email after 24 hours.

1 in 3 RFQs are answered in 1 hour. 2 in 3 are answered within 8 hours.

Do higher priority RFQs get answered first?

Marking a request as “urgent” seems to have minimal impact on when you’ll get a response. Although requests marked as "Routine" have incrementally higher response time, there is no discernable trend as priority increases.

There is no obvious connection between buyer-specified "priority" and response time. [1] In this graph, the category "High" includes priority labels like "Critical," "Expedited," "Work Stoppage," "High," and other labels indicating higher-than-normal urgency. [2] The category "Routine" includes priority labels like "Routine," "Normal," and several other similar labels.

One explanation for this is that suppliers have come to ignore these labels. Another explanation may be that buyers and suppliers tend to pick up the phone and talk offline for true AOG requirements, so those are not well represented in this sample.

How long should it take to get a response?

Average response time dips as low as two hours and holds steady through the early part of the US East Coast working day. So early risers in Eastern Standard Time are lucky, as most of their workday also happens to be the best time to submit an RFQ.

Submitting just three hours outside this ideal time window doubles the average response time. And at the absolute worst time to submit an RFQ, response time increases by a factor of seven. When you require a mission-critical part, submitting in the right time window can make a huge difference.

How fast can the process go? The top 10% of suppliers can get a quote out in as little as 5 minutes once they work through the morning backlog.

Takeaways

Of course, this information is biased based on Rotabull’s network, which is weighted toward the Americas and Europe. Response times vary significantly based on buyer and seller time zone. However, based on this dataset, we can make some observations and suggestions:

  • Average response times in the middle of North America’s workday drop down to two hours on average (with some suppliers answering as quickly as 5 minutes after an RFQ arrives).
  • Think about the supplier’s location when sending an RFQ. Submit early in their standard work day so they have time to process the RFQ. Otherwise, you might have to wait until they head into the office the next morning.
  • Unfortunately, marking an RFQ as “AOG” won’t necessarily speed up the response time. You will likely need to pick up the phone if you need a quote ASAP.
  • If you don’t hear back from a seller within a day, don’t wait around for a response. Chances are you might not be receiving a quote at all.

[1] This analysis was based on a de-identified, anonymized sample of 100,000 quotes from Q4 2019.