How Not to Respond to RFPs

31 Dec How Not to Respond to RFPs

There’s a rush to join buyer networks and to subscribe to supplier match companies like I have never seen before. I guess it’s because these companies and networks offer to take care of the difficult and distasteful task of finding new leads so that you can propose your services to potential new clients and customers. Lead generation is difficult at best, and it can be very expensive, so if someone offers you the opportunity to funnel leads to your email address or website at an affordable monthly rate, then why not?

Why not precisely. If the leads are qualified and the company is reputable, there is no reason not to try it. And try it is what I recommend first. Don’t sign up for a long term contract and make sure the escape clause of any invoice or agreement is clear and easy to enforce. If it’s not working, you need to drop it and move on.

Secondly, before you sign up, plan ahead. Plan how you intend to respond to any request for pricing or proposals. Develop your response and have it ready to fly. It’s not a good idea to wait until you get a request before you start developing your offer. Any proposal, pricing and offer can be tweaked if the lead requirements are specific or require custom handling. But a blank proposal page is a horrible thing to face when you have a prospect waiting for an answer from you.

The problem with waiting is that others will not wait. Your competition is ready, your prospect is ready and the responses will flood the lead’s inbox, and where will your response appear? Will it be first, last or somewhere in between?

One of the valued services I provide is that I request pricing and proposals in my client’s behalf. Then MY inbox is the one that’s flooded, not my client’s. They like that. What I do with these responses is weigh each of them against my clients’ requirements, so here’s my advice to those who respond to RFP’s or Requests for Pricing and Proposals:

1. Don’t flood your email proposal with spam text or conversely with distracting graphics. Make your offer and pricing clear and simple. Use bullet points or one-page PDFs with tables, and emphasize value points and have them listed clearly and concisely. Include any “gotcha” contract or service caveats up front. Don’t make me spend time reading through pages of proposal only to find out on page 10 that a two-year contract is required to get the discount price.
2. Lastly, differentiate yourself. What makes you different? You can command a higher price if you have a significant advantage to tout. If you are the high priced vendor, make it easy for consultants to justify your price.
I guess that’s enough about that.

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