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RFP Response

Hello,

Just received this. Now what would you do next?

"Thank you so much for participating in the Branded Attire RFP for XYZ Company. Based on comparison of the many, many responses to the RFP we have chosen other candidates to go forward with that more closely match our business needs at this time. We appreciate you taking the time to send in your proposal and wish you only the best in 2009 and beyond."
- by Jakobi
Sounds like they have already made a decision on where to go. I would send a follow email, thanking them for letting you try to earn their business.

XYZ Company,
I do personally appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to earn your business and I sincerely wish you the best for 2009 as well. I had one question though I was hoping you could answer for me. I always try to learn something from each of my potential customers so I can continously improve myself. I was wondering had I done something wrong or to offend you, or did I not do something? What could I have done differently to earn your business? This way I know for the next consumer, and won't make same mistake twice.

This is a hell mary pass. Sometimes it will open conversations back up because they will give you the true objections. Other times you can use their observations and improve. If they don't respond or you can't re-open negotiations then best thing to do is move on. Dont spend the entire time worrying about the fish that got away, because then you won't catch the next one. - by jrboyd
Sounds like they have already made a decision on where to go. I would send a follow email, thanking them for letting you try to earn their business.

XYZ Company,
I do personally appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to earn your business and I sincerely wish you the best for 2009 as well. I had one question though I was hoping you could answer for me. I always try to learn something from each of my potential customers so I can continously improve myself. I was wondering had I done something wrong or to offend you, or did I not do something? What could I have done differently to earn your business? This way I know for the next consumer, and won't make same mistake twice.

This is a hell mary pass. Sometimes it will open conversations back up because they will give you the true objections. Other times you can use their observations and improve. If they don't respond or you can't re-open negotiations then best thing to do is move on. Dont spend the entire time worrying about the fish that got away, because then you won't catch the next one.
Thank you I will send them an email. I felt good about this one too, which does suck. I felt I responded to the RFP in every aspect possible. I do want to find out why. - by Jakobi
Personally I believe we all should aim at eliminating RFPs from our lives.

The RFP process is notorious for castrating all unique value off of services. The kind of value that would make the greatest difference for the buyer, if he had enough brain not to use procurement.

I think unique value is acquired through relationships not through bidding wars.

I think the problem with RFPs is that the people who evaluate proposals are not exactly expert on what they are evaluating. They are just as unqualified to evaluate your proposals as HR folks are unqualified to evaluate job applicants.

Besides, evaluators (both HR and procurement) are not after high value. They are after low costs.

As far as I know, the bidding process comes from governments that employ some of the biggest idiots who have ever walked the earth.

I think proposals should be evaluated by practitioners not by bureaucrats.

A few years ago a study by McKinsey found that...
  • 75% of solutions don't return a profit to the selling company
  • 50% of solutions don't deliver the expected value for the buying company
In bidding wars bidders are forced to strip their services off of any unique value, so they can play clients' "level playing fields", that is, they can be cheap enough to be considered for the gig.

I think this is the rough RFP process...
  1. Buyer searches for possible solutions and service providers on the web using Google
  2. Buyer settles with a specific company
  3. Buyer gathers info on the selected company
  4. Buyer and seller agrees on price and terms
  5. Buyer issues RFP to find some competitive(ly low) bidders
  6. Buyer uses low bids to pressurise the selected company to drop fees and prices (Truly good companies tell buyers to shove their opportunities up their arses)
  7. Some poor suckers actually respond to the RFP and submit their proposals, hoping that it's a real opportunity
  8. Buyer makes a shortlist of some poor s*ckers for further brain-picking, called the sales presentation
  9. Buyer invites some salespeople to present their solutions. The audience of these presentations are usually mid-level opinion-makers and lower-level flunkies without decision-making authority and budgetary power
  10. Anticipating manipulative presentations, audience members put on their "sales filters" designed to separate value from bullsh*t
  11. Audience members passively watch and listen to the free "entertainment" and carefully filter the message
  12. The buyer grades the presentation and the presenter.
  13. The buyer's decision is based on criteria the buyer established days or weeks before the presentation in the absence of salespeople!
When salespeople submit proposals in response to RFPs, they are not exactly selling anything. They are merely begging for attention. It's a kind of reverse auction: The auctioneer shouts, "Who can do it cheaper?" And frenzied salespeople try to out-scream each other, "Me! Me! Me!"

Then one winner, more often than not, the lowest bidder is selected.

And for the rest of the engagement, this poor b*stard suffers from the winner's curse: In their frenzied zeal, bidders underestimate the cost of rendering their services. In order to win the bid, salespeople underbid each other so badly, that even if they win the contract, they end up losing money on it. So, eventually, the winner ends up being the biggest loser.

So, here we have to change our mindsets from chasing RFPs to market positioning that allows sellers to attract buyers who have already qualified themselves using the company's automated lead nurturing system.

But I may be totally wrong, and of course, there are exceptions. - by Bald Dog
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