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

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

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

Sales - It's More Like Miss Universe Than the Olympics

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 06, 2010 @ 12:12 PM

giants1st Place.  Winning.  #1.  The Best.  Top.  Champion.  Great, exciting labels.

World Champion.  The San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series but the team they beat, the Texas Rangers, were still the American League Champions and each player received Playoff and World Series bonus earnings.  It's OK to come in 2nd.

Gold Medalist. You don't have to win the Gold, because even the bronze and silver winners are among the medalists and their resumes will always include, "Winner of 4 Medals for the US Olympic Team".  It's OK to come in 3rd!

Academy Award Winner.  You don't have to win the Academy Award; you only need to be nominated! Your movie or resume will always be able to state "Nominated for 7 Academy Awards".  That's the stuff of legacy.  You can leverage it.  It's OK to lose!

Miss Universe.  Either you win it all or you lose!  Period.  Who remembers the runner-up?

Sometimes I get the feeling that salespeople think that they are in the Olympics, where coming in second is OK.  I hear things like, "At least we made the short list", or "That will make them think about us next time", or "If anything goes wrong they'll call us first", or, "Well now they know who we are".  But it's not OK.  Selling is more like Miss Universe.  If you don't win, you've lost!

Let's take a closer look at those comments above:

  1. At Least We Made the Short List - You should always be on the short list and what's the prize for that?  You get to respond to an RFP?  You get to present?  You get to show up?  In other words, you're such a great salesperson that they'll actually listen to you for 30 minutes? Yikes!  If the prize is that you get to propose or present, that's a prize you shouldn't be shooting for.  We're trying to stop you from doing that and get you to ask questions!
  2. That will make them think about us next time - Really?  They aren't thinking about you this time, so why will they think about you next time?
  3. If anything goes wrong they'll call us first - If they thought that highly of you, they would have bought from you this time, so why would you be their back-up plan?
  4. Now they know who we are - They knew who you were the minute you called them and apparently, they thought they knew enough to say 'no'.

According to Corporate Executive Board (CEB), buyers of technology say that 50% of differentiation takes place in the field.  In others words, it's not your brand, your technology or your price that sets your company and products apart; it's your salespeople!  And most of them aren't getting the job done.

So here's a nice contextual segue...

The Top Sales Awards are also very much like Miss Universe.  The winner can leverage it for 12 months -- "Winner of the Top Sales Blog of 2010" --  and if you come in 2nd you can say, "And today's article is about motivation..."  I got a late start on letting people know about this so we started last week in 10th (last) place.  We began today in 2nd place but still a good 15 percentage points behind the temporary leader.  In order to come from behind and win the Top Sales Blog of 2010 I'll need your votes and if you were nice enough to have already voted for this Blog - thank you very much (you can vote more than once...)!  Just click here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Top Sales Awards, Winning Sales RFP's, Success in Sales, Competing in Sales, Competing for the Business

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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 medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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