An RFP Response Strategy

I was working with a client’s sales leadership team this week. Not surprisingly, they are wrestling with their RFP response strategy. They know that they win a really small percentage of the RFPs they respond to, and that number is miniscule if the RFP came in cold. Yet, they spend a large amount of time on the RFPs. Why? Probably because the activity associated with these “opportunities” keeps people busy and keeps the top of the pipeline full. Imagine how people in the company would feel if they changed course and became more selective as to which RFPs they respond to.
Here is what they said they wanted to accomplish:
- Pursue more qualified opportunities
- Identify the right opportunities to work on
- Reduce the number of RFPs pursued
- Improve the hit rate on RFPs by leveraging the best resources on the best opportunities
- Reduce unproductive activity
- Increase focus on proactive prospects where they can drive demand rather than respond to it.
If you were in this position, what would you do? Or better yet, if you were in this position, what did you do?

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One Response to An RFP Response Strategy

  1. Tony Ennis says:

    Thank you Mark! By nature, an RFP is constructed to put “vendors” in a box. At best they are a necessary formality and at worst they may strip a value leading organization down to quantifiable answers, ridiculous rules of “engagement” and a trip to the vendor price grid. I believe a couple of important factors need to be considered in order to achieve the desired goals in your post.
    - Who is the force behind the RFP? The customer’s procurement office, the competitor or the company in reference?
    - Who developed the requirements of the RFP? If the company in reference has driven the opportunity and the RFP is a necessary formality, there may be an opportunity to shape the requirements to focus on value versus price.
    - Will the customer allow presentations in conjunction with the RFP delivery.

    This might be an overly simplistic viewpoint, but if my organization has created the opportunity, if my team has shaped the requirements to consider value and finally, if my team can present to the customer; and specifically the decision maker, prior to delivering the RFP; full steam ahead. I would deliver the RFP at the conclusion of the round table discussion at the presentation. If I can not check these boxes, I would recommend taking a pass; or at a minimum, responding with a “no bid without presentation”.

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