Is this RFP a good fit?
In this weekly series, we’re going in-depth on the reasons you should take RFPs seriously in 2021. Last week, we were talking about consistency, today it’s all about the right fit.
Have you ever finished most of a Request for Proposal (RFP) only to finally work out it wasn’t a good fit?
Imagine walking into a restaurant and having to eat everything on the menu before you can decide if this is really the right establishment for you. Only when you’ve eaten every single dish, every appetizer, every entree, every side-dish, every dessert will you decide which dishes you like, which you don’t and whether, on balance, this is a restaurant you want to revisit.
It’s not a great system, not only will you fill up pretty quickly but it’s undoubtedly going to cost you an arm and a leg too.
OK, this is a silly analogy, but we do these kinds of things every day when it comes to RFPs.
Every Subject Matter Expert who’s ever answered an RFP, Bid, Compliance, Due Diligence or Security Questionnaire will have come across this same situation. You had to answer every single question to find the requirement, hidden on page 103, that suddenly changed this from a great solution fit, or a full compliance, into a nightmare that either needs a re-discovery or qualifying out (closed-lost).
Sure the metaphor might break down when comparing shellfish allergies to compliance questions but the point is knowing what you’re dealing with ahead of time will help you make the right decisions.
There are a few forces at work here. One is understanding your relationship with the client and the deal in question ‘What is the bid / no-bid criteria for this?’ and we’ll talk about this at length in another post soon. The second should be an easy one, can we do this? In a technology world, we’re fast builders, but if there’s a deal-breaker in there you want to know that now, not later.
But this is where technology can step in. We can now answer hundreds of questions in seconds, scan through heavy, legal documents that would have taken days to read and find any of those sticking points in minutes, all with ‘Natural Language Processing’.
‘we’re not in the business of turning down business’
To be clear, it’s not about removing the human element because we know first hand, that behind all great Artificial Intelligence, there are great people. It’s about redefining the quality and value of your Subject Matter Expert’s time and this is a crucial component to winning more of the right business.
In the current climate, maybe it doesn’t matter that your solution isn’t a perfect fit for the RFP. We’ve heard from many Technology CEOs who are saying ‘we’re not in the business of turning down business’; meaning you’re going to answer every RFP you’re given, no matter what. Even then though, surely you’ll put much more effort into answering the ‘winnable’ RFPs.
Whatever your strategy is, it helps to know ahead of time what you’re dealing with. That way you can focus your energy and sales support resources on the deals you can ‘accelerate to closed-won’.
It helps to know where you’re headed.
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