Don’t Lose Sales Waiting for RFPs

In the world of B2B service contracts, sales are often lost by the time RFPs are out to suppliers.

This doesn’t happen because customers make backroom, illicit deals with an unscrupulous supplier.

But it does occur when suppliers waste time waiting for a particular RFP to come out when they could’ve been:

  • Analyzing that opportunity
  • Drafting a compelling solution
  • Writing a persuasive narrative

All this can and should be done in advance of an RFP’s release. And although customer RFPs are typically due two weeks after they’re released…

“Sales work on proposals should start 3-9 months BEFORE an RFP is expected.”

Why? Because…

Customers don’t change their minds overnight when the RFP is out

Customers’ buying rationale does NOT change the day customers release their RFPs. Their reasons for buying existed months, sometimes years before the calendar and Procurement say it’s time to put the contract out to bid.

So, why wait?

Suppliers don’t get the info they need to win from the RFP

Customers’ RFPs do NOT reveal their true reasons for selecting one supplier over another. Sometimes RFPs include ranked evaluation criteria but never customers’ real buying motivations.

Don’t believe me? Have you ever come across something like this in an RFP?

“XYZ is holding an RFP process…because our current supplier left the warehouse doors open, and we lost more than $500,000 worth of product. Oh yes, and they took our proprietary design molds too.”

So, why wait?

Procurement keeps suppliers at arm’s distance in RFPs

When RFPs are released, customers STOP sharing their true motivation as Procurement drops the “Cone of Silence” over their real buying rationale.

Procurement shares suppliers’ questions and answers with all suppliers according to the RFP process. And those answers are never about what customers are really trying to fix or improve — only answers that clarify RFP questions.

So, why wait?

When RFPs are out, the clock is ticking

Suppliers likely spend the two-week RFP window visiting customer sites and trying to get clarification of RFP questions.

As a result, suppliers spend most of their time on pricing. That often makes the technical part of proposals rushed, hurried, and not always suppliers’ best creativity and storytelling.

So, why wait?

Last Thoughts

Since this is the real world where nothing is 100% guaranteed, suppliers should be confident they’re on customers bidders’ list before working on proposals ahead of RFPs.

And in some rare instances, RFPs are released with an entirely new and/or different scope of work (SOW) or specifications.

Surprise! If that happens, it means another supplier influenced that customer’s higher-ups, and now has the inside track to be selected. The game was changed and competing suppliers must default back to their usual frenetic, time-crunched behavior and shove all proposal work into the two-week timeframe. But hey, that’s how they’ve always done it.

Even with these two considerations, starting sales work on proposals 3-9 months BEFORE the RFP is expected can make suppliers more competitive in highly competitive RFPs.

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