An RFP Just Arrived…
An RFP just arrived in your email. No, you were not expecting this RFP: it came out of the blue. It could have come from that company, that organization, or that agency you have approached time and again. You might have already been doing business or never worked with them at all. That does not matter, this time they approached you. That’s feels great!
Ok, how great does it feel? Does it excite you? Does it fill your heart with joy? Are you ready to race up and down the halls? Or is your reaction a little more measured? Maybe it’s not that great a piece of business? Well, either way, it's time to do your homework: qualify the business.
Ask yourself “What information do we need to know before pursuing the business?” Start by asking who sent you the RFP. If it came from Procurement or strategic sourcing, an unsolicited RFP could mean several things. Have you done business with this customer before? Do you have a relationship with the decision-maker? If you answered no to either question, responding to this RFP may be waste of your time and resources. Save your energy, just walk away.
Yet if it came from your champion in the customer organization, an unsolicited RFP could mean a new opportunity. Yes, be happy! But, you still need qualify the business a bit more.
So, take a deep dive into the RFP. Decompile the key details of the bid: scope, requested products or services, quantities, deliverables, timeline, terms and conditions, and buying criteria. Then ask yourself these important questions:
- Is this opportunity worth the investment to pursue?
- How do we stack up to the buying criteria against the competition?
- What is the decision-making process and timeline?
- Where is the customer in their decision process (early, mid, late)?
- Has budget been established and who owns it? Do I have a business relationship with this person?
Working through these questions will give you essential insights. Pay attention to what information is missing or what answers you still need. If you have more questions than answers, then take the time to fill in the blanks before investing time and resources in a formal proposal. And if it doesn’t feel right, it’s better to walk away. There may be a better way to invest your team’s time.