Requests for Proposals (RFP’s) Are Really Appeals for Free Shot In The Dark Planning
“Oh boy… a RFP! I get to do a lot of research and consulting for free, with very little chance of winning the deal!!” Is this not the thought that really comes to your mind when an RFP comes to you? After reading the RFP you come away with tons of questions because the whole project seems very vague. It is because the prospect, 9 times out of 10, doesn’t know what they really need (wants are not the same as needs).
The prospect will pick the proposal that most closely matches the prospect’s “needs”, correct? Well then, why would they want a proposed solution that isn’t in complete alignment with their company’s goals and objectives? With an RFP, that is what they are going to get.
When I have a prospect that asks for proposals, the most helpful thing I can do is to help them understand that they most likely have not done enough planning because if the plan was solid enough, the only thing left to do is to find the people to implement. And of course, implementation is really the easy part and the costs go way down when you are very specific in the work that needs to be done.
So to get out of doing proposals (that I won’t win), and to position myself as a trusted advisor in the eyes of the prospect, I attempt to get the prospect to back off of the RFP and consider hiring somebody (me) to do a strategic planning process with them (yes, a proposal – but one that is in complete alignment with their overall goals and objectives). However, it’s something that you get paid to do, allows you to get in the door with a small project, and is a way for you to truly bond with the client and get to know them and their business extremely well.
Unless you have a small team of elves that come out at night and write proposals for you, don’t do them.