How to Communicate effectively (Part III) - Requesting Quotation and few Common Mistakes

Rules for import request are pretty much on same lines as that of export offer (please see last week's discussion). A request for quotation must be precise, quantified, practical and convincing. Learning the rules not only help buyers get good response from authentic sellers but also help sellers and agents to judge the requester.

Here's few points to remember while requesting quotation:


The buyer must state his/her full contact details including name of contact person, mailing address, telephone, fax, e-mail and www home address (if any).

If you receive a request for quotation (RFQ) with no or insufficient details about identity of the sender - then request more information before sending quotation. Any request with scant details on buyer's identity is perhaps not worth pursuing.


Some information about context or background is extremely helpful for timely and knowledgeable response. It not only helps sellers to respond with relevant information but also helps buyers in cutting down negotiation time by avoiding un-necessary exchange of mails. A RFQ for same product may come from

  • End-user (e.g. manufacturer requesting a component or ingredient)

  • Wholesaler 

  • Retailer

  • Agent/Distributor

The nature of response from seller may vary considerably for each of the above groups though product may be same. Buyers can save considerable time by providing a brief context of the request.

Supporting Information/Documents

Mention your official export-import registration number, bank name, affiliation etc. wherever necessary. A link to corporate web-site saves considerable time and effort. Generally all information that contributes to establish your credibility will support your business. You may be well known in your country but not necessarily abroad !

Product Specification

This is the most important and core of any import request. Nothing frustrates a seller more than an incomplete and imprecise request for quotation. Insufficient or improper product description/specifications reflects poorly on credibility of buyer and fails to evoke response from authentic sellers.


Remember, price depends on quantity to a great extent. It will be difficult for a seller to quote price without knowing minimum order quantity

Mode of Shipment / Destination / Delivery Period

Without clear statement or preference of buyer on above the seller may quote something default (e. g. FOB) - leading to waste of time and money in exchanging mails.

Common Mistakes

  • Insufficient contact details 
  • To ask a quotation without specifying quantity, exact quality, delivery time etc. 
  • Offer of several completely different products 
  • Too low or too expensive prices vis-�-vis market prices 
  • Offer of quasi non-existent products in a country 
  • To propose a factory for 5 million dollars with Hotmail address and portable phone or a tel/fax contact 
  • To ask for financing without any contribution except an idea
  • To ask a 100% financing 
  • To ask for a financial partnership without an appraisal and financial report from a recognized specialized accounting firm
  • To ask for goods on credit in first transaction
  • To ask for samples on introduction

Related Links:

Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 3, Issue 1 April 3' 2002

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )