Often times prospects put out a Request For Proposal and expect a response from all the “vendors” they send it to. When you receive one of these RFP’s what should you do? Good question. Before we answer it let’s take a look at what is happening.
What most likely is happening is that your prospect is entertaining bids or proposals from several of your competitors or they may have even decided on a vendor already and are looking for your proposal to keep your competitor honest.
When you comply with the RFP you are accepting their agenda and are playing by their rules. If you play by their rules and respond to their process you are doing exactly what every one of your competitors is doing. There is no differentiation between you and your competitors except price. And if you are not low price you don’t usually get the business.
There is another problem in doing this. By responding you are assuming that the prospect understands fully the problems, issues and concerns that they are hoping your product or service will eliminate. That assumption, which leads to a premature presentation, is wrong most of the time.
Additionally, bidding is not selling. Selling involves human contact to explore the full nature of the problem so that a customized solution can be recommended. Unless you sell a commodity you should avoid this altogether.
Instead, you should respond by sending a letter politely explaining why you don’t answer RFPs or bids and why it isn’t appropriate for either party to do business this way. The letter should make it very clear that you would like to talk with them to explore the full range of their issues to determine if you may be of service to them. If they choose not to do this then that is their choice.
After all, at some point you must eventually get face to face with them if they are to become a client. Why not start that process early? Do this and you will eliminate a lot of wasted time.