TURNING THE TABLES ON THE RFP

In my last post, I talked about how, once the RFP has been released, it’s very difficult to exert control on the buying process, which is an important aspect of closing the sale. The reason control is important is that you want to guide the vision of the solution with the prospect so that your agency’s approach or capabilities are favored. When you get there too late, you miss that opportunity, and chances are, another agency has shaped the vision for you. That’s why you want the chance to speak with the key decision-makers leading the review (or else). If you get that opportunity (a big ‘if’), you want to use that time to reshape the vision by confirming the capabilities they think they need to solve their problems and then exploring whether or not they could use a few more capabilities (that you offer) to solve the problem even better. You can use the RFP as a jumping off point because their needs are clearly outlined, and from there you can get creative to consider what other services or capabilities they could probably use that your agency offers. Once you re-engineer the vision (with your agency as a key ingredient), your ability to sway the final decision is much higher. But truth be told, most of the agencies I’ve worked with historically never got this far. We simply couldn’t bring ourselves to play hardball in the RFP process and demand access to the decision-makers (or else). It was simply too risky, so we ended up caving and pitching even though we knew we were the ‘underdogs.’ We tried to present our unique differentiators during the pitch process, which isn’t a bad strategy, but it's hard to make up for the lost control, which is why it's so important to get there before the RFP is released.


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