Pre-Qualify RFP/Bid Opportunities

(Don’t miss the free, customizable tool at the end of this article).

Some times of the year B2B suppliers see a substantial uptick in the number of Request for Proposals (RFPs).

This typically signals the seasonal beginning of a deluge of  RFPs, as many customers’ fiscal year ends coincide.

And their Procurement departments remind them of contracts terminating then.

Voila! A very active bidding season, and what looks like sales treats for suppliers’ reps.

While some customer RFPs are legitimate in seeking new suppliers to fix problems or make improvements, many are hollow RFPs; zombies going through compliance motions to satisfy Procurement; never intending to change suppliers.

To Participate or Not

When sales reps are asked to dance, a natural inclination is to say “Yes,” no matter who’s doing the asking.

But the more sales savvy reps know it’s not wise to “Yes” every RFP. They assess the opportunity first to determine whether to participate. And the easier that process is, the better. Overly detailed processes are easily forgotten, like the name of your elementary school principal.

Your Elementary School Principal

For those looking for a simple assessment process, here are several basics to consider.

Access to Sales Intel

These are the typical factors to consider when determining if you want to participate in an RFP/Bid opportunity. With little to no sales intel it’s an uphill battle, winnable but a slog. Also, don’t forget about the four painful things you need to know about sales intel.

Uphill Slog

The primary factors to consider whether you know enough to participate are:

  • Customer contacts: Do you know them, and their personal, career and departmental motivations?
  • Customers’ business pains & gains: Do you have inside knowledge, or only know what you read online about this customer?
  • Past experience: Have you worked with that customer or contacts before, do you know their trustworthiness and integrity? Does this customer have a history of buying low price only?

Visible Customer Commitment

This is akin to reading tea leaves because some worthwhile customers do make a hash of their RFPs. But it’s still worth considering these factors when deciding if you’ll participate.

Reading Tea Leaves`

  • Bidding suppliers: Is there a reasonable number, or is it a cattle call for all comers?
  • Bidding suppliers: Are they prequalified in a Request for Information process, or can anyone and their brother participate?
  • Timelines: Are they reasonable and typical for this type of RFP?
  • Site visitations: If typical for this type of RFP, are they scheduled and are they representative of all sites being bid?
  • Online Reverse Auction: Is this a common practice for this type of RFP, or are customers sending a message that it’s price only?

Strategic New Business Fit

Should you be fortunate enough to win the RFP, do you really want it? Checking these factors before deciding to participate can save you from a boat load of headaches.Match Made in Heaven

  • Capabilities match: Does the RFP opportunity match what you’re capable of doing well today?
  • Dollar size: Does the dollar volume, from initial plus ancillary sales, clear your minimum threshold?
  • Growth plans: Does the RFP opportunity provide business in the direction you planned to grow?
  • Safety / Risk / Legality : Will you increase your risk profile, and insurance costs, should you win this RFP and begin that business relationship?

Smart, Fast, Easy Choices whether to Participate in RFPs

If you’d like a free, simplistic but customizable tool, click here. It’s an Excel template so you can change it as you like. Make it work for you.

RFP-Bid Decision Matrix

Click image to download free, customizable tool as an Excel template.

Image by Clare & Dave

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