We have a receptacle for RFPs (Request for Proposals) here at DLAIgnite.com it’s called a dustbin.
Thankfully we don’t get asked to respond to many, but I have worked for companies that do.
In the past I sold an accounting system to a Hospital, but they had forgotten to use a tender process. So I had a call with the procurement people. The Hospital had told the Procurement people that we were the chosen solution. The RFP was a formality and the Procurement people set terms that couldn’t be achieved by any company other than us. Also, I had written the RFP.
So simple you think, advertise the RFP, nobody applies, we win. Let’s not forget that we had won anyway.
So what happened 4 companies applied, they had teams working on a bid they couldn’t win. When I left the office on the Friday night, I chuckled to myself that people were working over the weekend on something they couldn’t win. Now I look back and think it’s sad.
Years later I worked for a management consultancy that bid RFPs to get people off the bench as they were given a sales account code to book there time to.
At this point, I’m sure there are a number of people that are saying they have replied to RFPs and have won them, but it is the execution rather than the rule.
Let’s understand why there is a need for RFPs.
Every company has to buy stuff and any company with a mature procurement process will ask for proposals from 3 or 4 people.
It is usual that a company, making any considered purchase, will have had a company in to help them. It might be an auditor, or a systems integrator or a boutique supplier. Either way, there will be a company that will be advising. It is highly likely they will have a product in mind, when they give that advice.
They are also, probably interested in the implementation work as well as the advisory work.
When you work with a company that issues RFPs, somebody has to write the RFP, so why not the supplier that is providing the advice? Why didn’t the supplier have a “ready to go” RFP, which a number of “uniques” thrown in that other suppliers cannot do.
On getting an RFP, I always read it to work out who the bid has been written by.
The RFP dice is therefore heavenly weighted against you.
The good news is that to win an RFP you haven’t been involved in, is to be disruptive. It is “normal” to challenge the client that maybe the writer of the bid has an unfair advantage. You may also have better relationships, if you don’t, then your job is to get better relationships from the “get go”.
Being disruptive, is also about being different. One of our clients, was asked to reply to an RFP. The usual tick box, yes and no. Probably written by another supplier. The client said that you could only write about the company on two sides of A4. So how did our client disrupt the process?
They went back to the client and said they wouldn’t fill in the two sides of A4 as they could get all the details about the company off the internet. Which you can.
The salesperson directed the client to 3 blogs he had written on his LinkedIn profile. Within 10 minutes the client had called the salesperson back and said “you obviously understand my business issues, my industry issues and and you have proved your businesses relevance, you are on the short list”. I don’t know if they won the business, but sometimes in sales it’s about getting to the next stage.
People who read this article also read these: