As you probably noticed on my home page, statistically speaking, prospects know which agency they will hire before the RFP is released. And 85% of the time, that agency will be hired at the end of the process. This is based on twenty years of research across all industries by the good folks at Sales Performance International ( Why is this? It has a lot to do with the way companies buy. Let’s go back in time 8 or 10 months before the RFP is released. At this point, someone in the organization is feeling a pain, something their current partners aren’t addressing or can’t address. But this person isn’t talking about it yet, and he or she doubts anyone can address it. Perhaps she has tried to address it in the past and couldn’t find a solution, or it was too expensive. Fast forward a little bit. The pain is becoming more acute. She is starting to talk about the pain and acknowledge it as a real problem with others in her department. Other people in the company are starting to agree. Fast forward again. The organization as a whole recognizes that this is a problem, and they begin to evaluate the capabilities they will need to overcome this problem. They evaluate these capabilities using agencies they already know. One agency is identified as having the majority of the capabilities they think they need. Perhaps there is a past relationship with this agency, either personal or professional, or perhaps they are already doing a project with this agency. The agency may even be consulted to support the development of an RFP. That agency takes the position of ‘column A.’ Other agencies are evaluated but only as a way to get more bids. The RFP is released. The agency in ‘column A’ is hired. The only way you can get ahead of this process is by getting there early enough to become the agency in ‘column A’. All other RFP exercises are a waste of time in my view – unless you can influence the process, which we will talk about in another post.

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