This week in training I had an interesting discussion with an experienced rep. We were discussing negotiation strategies when he jumped in:
“In our business today we have no choice but to respond to the prospect’s RFP. They won’t talk to us, they won’t return calls, they won’t answer questions. The prospect sends the RFP to 7-8 competitors, tells us we need to give our “best and final” within 24 hours, and they will pick a winner form the submissions. We have no chance to come back a second time with a revised offer”
I believe that you always have a choice. You can chose not to respond to a prospect who insists on this type of process. You can chose to call them and suggest a different approach. You can chose to offer an unsolicited proposal. You can chose to “no bid”. My participant did not agree:
“No. We have no choice. We must do what the customer requests”
What do you think? I don’t agree. I believe:
- For every prospect that runs this type of process there is another who wants to partner.
- For every customer that will not “allow you” to ask questions about the RFP, there is another who will.
- For every prospect that wants you to “fill in columns” with your “best and final” there is another who will work with you to build a custom solution.
- You have a choice of who to sell to. Smart business practice dictates that you discriminate based on your return on time invested
- The only reason you find yourself in a position like this – feeling like you have no choice – is because your pipeline is empty.
- Good pipeline building skills are the key to ensuring youu do business with those whose business is good for you!
Your job is to go out and find the right customers to do business with. It’s not to sit at your desk and respond automatically to what ever the customer requests. I would be curious about your thoughts on this before I post my answers tomorrow
5 responses to “MUST You Do Exactly WhatThe Prospect Wants?”
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I agree we have the power to decide to no bid or just play the game – no really workign on the price, garbage-in –> garbage out.
I have a customer exactly like that…we donot waste time, we just give them an automated response/price, usually 95% of the quotes they do not win it. I reached out the management level and provided our feedback as we (they) were running in circles, but never heard back from them….resulting in my focus on other customers that value my time and my business.
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Colleen is entirely correct.
If you did not have a strong hand in writing the RFP, it is most likely that one of your competitors did. Thus, there is a very low probability of receiving the contract or P.O.
You have no obligation to respond and it is highly unlikely that you will be rewarded for suggesting improvements. Do not waste your time and effort.
Learn how to find prospects who want to do business with YOU. Learn how to be the vendor who writes the RFPs.
I get the impression that the participant in Colleen’s session felt pressured by his bosses to “just respond”. I agree that asking a few questions so you can tailor an RFP (especially if it’s a big one) is reasonable. If the bosses are insisting “just respond”, perhaps the choice is not just looking for another client, but also looking for another employer.