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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
- We won't get future business if we don't respond
- We can't get this business if we don't respond
- We will appear unresponsive if we don't respond
- We want to get a foot in the door
- We want to impress them with our capabilities
- We will win 10% of them and since we don't know which 10% we need to respond to all of them
- We want this business
- We need this business
- We want to be a back-up option
- 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:
- They want to do business with you but need something formalized
- They want to buy from your competitor but need to keep them honest
- They want to drive down the price and they are initiating a bidding war
- 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.