Latest "RFP Process" Posts
Ian Lurie of Conversation Marketing had a look at RFPs Suck! and decided the topic was worth an interview on his site. Call me biased, but I have to agree. He asked some great and important questions on RFPs and I’d like to share the answers with you here.
Below is an excerpt from the article. Read the whole thing here.
RFPs Suck-Don’t take my word for it…
RFPs are like a colonoscopy: Someone you don’t even know gets to inspect you from the inside out.
Sorry, I prefer to have dinner first.
Thankfully, I’m no longer raving alone. Tom Searcy has written an excellent book titled, guess what, RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business.
Unlike me, he provides excellent help to navigate the RFP process. In fact, I used some of his advice in an RFP, and are now in the running for the contract. So his stuff works.
Tom was kind enough to do an interview with me about the book and RFPs in general. Here it is:
1. What inspired you to write the book? I know why I’d write it – because RFPs really do suck. But clearly you’ve seen great success responding to RFP’s.
Over the past five years, governance requirements, aggressive cost-cutting measures and more powerful purchasing departments have been driving deals into the RFP process–even the smaller deals that may not have required one before. As such, the number of deals that require an RFP process has increased exponentially.
Just a quick note to let you know that my new book RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and For All to Win Big Business is now available on Kindle. If Kindle is your format of choice, well then, please go forth and order!
The Kindle edition is available HERE.
Thanks and enjoy!
Well, everyone, a collective sigh of relief just left the Hunt Big Sales headquarters (or “clubhouse” as we prefer to call it). Why? My new book—which you are all no doubt familiar with, thanks to your immense help in choosing the cover—just came out!
RFPs Suck! How to Master the RFP System Once and for All to Win Big Business is now available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a slew of other places. In about a week, it will be available on Kindle so if that’s your format of choice, just let me know and I’ll send you an update when it’s ready. And if its mere existence isn’t enough to convince you to grab a copy, you can find more details about the book at RFPsSuckTheBook.com.
Hardcover: 160 pages
(Yeah, it’s a bit more than your average run-of –the-mill book but that’s because it’s not your average run-of-the-mill book. And anyway, your boss should be buying this for you.)
Publisher: Channel V Books
How you can help:
- Refer it to everyone you know.
- Buy it for everyone in your office. (Hey, it makes a great stocking stuffer!)
- Leave an online review at Amazon or Barnes & Noble if you’ve read the e-book or after you read the full length version. (Links are above.)
- Vote on other peoples’ reviews that are particularly helpful (on Amazon).
- Think happy, positive thoughts about it every now and then.
As many of you know, this book is the extended version of my e-book Landing Big Sales with an RFP.
It probably seems a little confrontational when I ask a prospect the simple question of “Why are you doing this?”, but really it’s just a more direct variation on a theme.
The other, less direct versions of this question are questions like:
- Why is this the right time for you to consider changing vendors?
- What performance threshold are you hoping to achieve by changing your provider right now?
- How have things changed so much in the last 6 months that you are now considering changing your provider?
- What will working with a new vendor give you that you are not getting from your current vendor?
In the end, though, it all boils down to wanting to know why.
I am working with two clients who have put this question into the early parts of their sales process and the answers they received are astonishing in their frankness. I assure you that all of these examples are real. I find some of them rather disturbing.
- “I have to look at other vendors every so often to keep procurement happy.”
- “The company we are working with says they can’t make any money because raw material costs are higher than what we pay in total price, so I’m looking to find someone who is cheaper.” (All providers in the industry buy their raw materials from the same source.)
- “We’re always looking to see what’s out there.” (The next question: “When was the last time you changed vendors?” Answer: “We’ve worked with the same company for 11 years.”)
These same clients would visit any company that would give them the time before even reaching the “Why are you doing this?” point.
Wow. I can’t thank you all enough for the incredible feedback you left for me last week. As a result of your comments, suggestions and votes we’re down to the four final covers—a couple of which are new, slightly-altered renditions of the older ones, and one of which will be the final cover.
I must say, I’ve been staring at these covers for over a week now and they’re beginning to look like one big blur to me, so I’m really, really counting on your help to make this decision once and for all! (This is both my way of guilting you into voting and thanking you immensely in advance for doing so!)
A few notes about the changes we made before I unveil the four final choices:
- We heard pretty consistently that my name needs to be smaller, with which I agree, so that’s going to be a definite.
- A couple people mentioned that the title should be a little bit more professional. In particular, they didn’t like the word “Sucks.” My feeling is that business books don’t have to be boring just because they’re educational. This title is a nod to that as well as to the fact that, well, RFPs really do suck, which is no doubt a sentiment shared universally. I also feel that the title—whether loved or hate—is provocative enough to pull people in for a closer look. From there, I hope the content will speak for itself.
- A couple of you mentioned that you liked the little HBS man inside the “O” in my first name, so we’ve tried to incorporate that more.
In the spirit of RFPs (the topic of my upcoming book RFPs Suck! –the cover of which many of you have helped me choose over the past few days–thank you so much), I want to share an article I recently wrote for Home Business Magazine. While the magazine may not speak to some of you directly, I think the article will. Or, at least, I hope it will…
With a primary focus on winning government contracts (read: stimulus money), the article discusses the ways in which small businesses can win contracts by:
- Solidifying their corporate images (both in reality and in the RFP).
- Identifying opportunities, whether through RFP databases, government project or grand sites, or various matching services.
- Joining forces. This could mean simply getting your internal departments together to work on this as a team, or it could mean partnering with a larger contractor who needs your services, and go in on the deal together.
- Attending open meetings. Because government contracts = proceed with caution, you should attend open meetings to gather new information, but make sure not to overshare.
- Being the safe, clean option. Despite the promise of change, one government position always tends to remain the same: “Always go with the safest option, even if it’s not the best option”
- Speak the language with clarity. Those who know that approaching mammoth prospects requires a special language will not be surprised to hear that approaching the government requires much of the same. In particular, speak in terms of Time, Money and Risk, and make sure you have a solid theme to weave throughout your response.
My publisher sent me a bunch of book covers for my upcoming RFP book and I can’t decide which one I like best. I’m hoping you can help! Below I’ve posted the six cover options followed by a simple multiple choice poll. All you have to do is take a look and then vote for your knee-jerk reaction.
By the way, you might notice that some look pretty similar, so please take into account the different fonts, colors and type sizes. And if you have any suggestions on individual elements you would change or swap, please leave me a note in the comments.
Oh, and note that the Cover number options apply to the book above them. Ah, spacing issues.
As always, thanks for your insight and help. I’ll announce the winning cover in the next few days and keep you updated on the book’s release!
Friends of ours (not the Soprano’s version of the expression), recently participated in a large RFP. They lost, but under the category of “You can’t make this stuff up,” here was the standard issue response they received from the company that issued the RFP [names of all companies and people omitted for obvious reasons]:
This is beyond classic…
You know you’ve done something right when one of your readers starts writing poetry about your work. Check out the fantastic poem about RFPs below! No, really.
The other day I spontaneously started writing a poem triggered by your observations on the RFP process. Enjoy and feel free to share with your readers.
To all the people at Hunt Big Sales, thanks for the inspiration, motivation and information!
The Pollack PR Marketing Group
He ate and drank the precious Words,
And got our Team excited;
“A Big Consumer Brand” He said,
“And we have been invited!”
“Oh, this is great,” the Team rejoiced
“We’d love to work on that…”
Needless to say, all jumped aboard
In 15 Seconds flat!
Four weeks of Research, Toil and Thought,
Went into our Response;
We made our Deck look really good,
We pitched our Pros, (we cloaked our cons);
We answered every Question whole,
Obeying each Decree;
We even gave some great Ideas
Away to use – for free!
Alas, a teensy-weensy Fact,
Omitted in their Doc;
The Reason why we were invited
Was not because: We Rock!
Nor for the Breadth of our past Work
Our History transcends;
Neither our matching Expertise,
Or even ‘cause we’re Friends.
No, our Proposal’s Heft and Strength
Served very different Ends…
First Copy went to Paul and Mike
Messrs. Sarbanes and Oxley
(Methinks in Times of Bailout Boons
‘Tis an outmoded Proxy)
Next: Round up good Ideas for free
Not one – a whole Buffet!
It occurred to me recently that we have a TON of free sales resources scattered throughout our site. From e-books to podcasts, and webinars to essays, we’ve definitely taken this thought leadership stuff to heart. And now we’ve gone one step further and wrapped it all up nicely into one lovely package we’ve aptly named our “Resource Center.”
So now, instead of registering for every e-book or download, you will simply register once for the Resource Center (it’s still free, of course), and you’ll never have to fill out another form again. (Registration is only required for e-books, webinars and podcasts.) Your email address will become your login, although our center should recognize you if you enter from a computer that you’ve previously used to login. I’m not one to brag (which is a trait that my marketing agency cites as a fatal weakness), but it is pretty snazzy…
In all seriousness, though, I invite you to check it out and take advantage of all of our free tools, including a brand NEW e-book that we just introduced today. (I’ll write about that separately later.) “How to Get into Big Companies for Big Sales… and What to Do Once You Get There” details a variety of new challenges that big sale hunters face and then provides extensive pointers, tips and insight that will allow them to greet those challenges head on.
I would love your feedback on the new resource center and e-book, so please feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have a chance.