Sales Effectiveness - How to Win Every RFP That You Respond To

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 19, 2017 @ 14:06 PM

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Image Copyright Gustavofrazao

I am amazed by the sheer number of salespeople who believe they must respond to an RFP, RFQ or RFI.  The resources, including people, time and money, required to respond to the specs from just one of these requests is daunting.  Some companies have so many requests coming in that they spend all of their time responding to them.  This is crazy!  Do you respond to every email you receive? Every call you get?  After all, it's a request, not a demand.  So why the frenzy over responding and replying so quickly?  You won't believe some of the reasons!

Top 10 Reasons Why Salespeople Respond to RFPs, RFQs and RFIs

  1. We won't get future business if we don't respond
  2. We can't get this business if we don't respond
  3. We will appear unresponsive if we don't respond
  4. We want to get a foot in the door
  5. We want to impress them with our capabilities
  6. We will win 10% of them and since we don't know which 10% we need to respond to all of them
  7. We want this business
  8. We need this business
  9. We want to be a back-up option
  10. We have always done it this way

If you and your company follow an effective sales process, proposing must be one of the final milestones prior to closing - it cannot and should not be one of the first milestones!

So not only is there the question of whether to respond, there is also the question of when.

Requests to propose come in one of four buckets:

  1. They want to do business with you but need something formalized
  2. They want to buy from your competitor but need to keep them honest
  3. They want to drive down the price and they are initiating a bidding war
  4. They want to buy from your competitor and need high bids to justify their decision.

That's it.  There aren't any other reasons.  And if you aren't in bucket #1, you should not be proposing!

Proposals are not selling tools, companies do not buy from you because of your proposals, and proposals don't differentiate you from your competition.  Your sales ability - specifically your listening and questioning skills -  will differentiate you from your competition.  Look at any survey of buyers and they all point to the fact that differentiation takes place in the field!

Rather than responding to proposals, you should be doing your best to learn why they sent it to you, why they want you to propose on this particular solution, and why they want to solve their problem in that particular way.  Get the specs of the proposal changed!

Prior to proposing, you must know that the business is yours and they want to buy from you.  Period.  If you don't already know that for a fact, you are not ready to propose.  If you do know it for a fact, then the proposal is simply a formality.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Closing Sales, Winning Sales RFP's, RFQ's

The Prospect Isn't Talking with Any Other Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 04, 2011 @ 12:04 PM

Have you ever heard that one before?

It's not that this can't happen.  Some people don't need to compare, talk with three companies, look at several options or get three quotes.  I don't.  Most great salespeople don't.  And your salespeople should never assume that a prospect NEEDS to shop around.

On the other hand, when the salesperson says, "They aren't talking with anyone else", and it turns out that they were, you have to wonder how the salesperson missed it.

There are several reasons why it could get missed.  They include:

  • The call just went SO well that your salesperson assumed there wasn't anyone else involved and didn't want to get someone else involved by asking;
  • The prospect didn't mention it and the salesperson didn't want to ask;
  • The salesperson asked and the prospect lied;
  • The salesperson asked and there wasn't anyone else at the time, but they got others involved at some point later on.
  • The call didn't go very well and the salesperson wasn't comfortable asking about competition.

In most of these scenarios, the salesperson is to blame, usually because of their own discomfort.  I don't know about you, but I would much rather know about the existence of a competitor, than worry that just because I asked, a competitor might suddenly appear.  The reality is that if your salespeople are effective, it is easier to sell against competition than it is to sell without competition.  Don't believe me?

The existence of competition usually means that the prospect is going to take action and purchase something.  The lack of competition is often a sign that they aren't motivated to buy, the timing isn't right, and they aren't convinced that they need what you provide.

The next time you ask about competition and a salesperson says, "They aren't talking with anyone else", challenge your salesperson on their prospect's motivation to buy - their urgency - and ask, "How do you know?"  "When you asked them about competition, what did they say?" 

Selling against competitors is normal, everyday activity for most salespeople.  Great salespeople can outsell great companies all day long.  The problem is that you have to know who they are before you can outsell them!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, selling against competition, competitive selling, RFQ's, RFP's

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years.  Dave's Blog earned a Bronze Medal in 2016 and this article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016. Read more about Dave.

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