My advice: recover from your initial euphoria. Take a long look at what the customer is asking of you.
Then be prepared to say No. I really did just say that. No.
Before you send out another RFQ or RFP, here are 10 questions to ask yourself. Work smarter with the types of customers who bring out your best.
Your boss (even if it’s you) will probably think you are nuts for finding reasons to say No. However, over the long run, you’ll become more discerning about what, who, why and where you choose to do business.
Many RFPs and RFQs are basically a cattle-call. The Buyer needs three bids per protocol. Their MO is price-shopping. They’ll use your price to beat up their incumbent vendor, whom they select for the project. Your proposal gets lost in the shuffle. Do you consider yourself as a commodity? These types of Buyers do.
Many RFPs and RFQs are expertise freebies. You sincerely feel you are showcasing your expertise. You don’t expect to win the bid this time. However, you want to create a lasting impression of “how it will be to work with me.” So you pour your heart and soul, and a heck of a lot of detail and potentially proprietary information, into your RFQ or RFP. You’ve just given away your expertise for free. The Buyer passes along your solutions (and everyone else’s) to their incumbent vendor, who delivers their/your solutions at the lowest negotiated price.
Your RFP and RFQ won’t seal the deal on its own. Do members of the Buying Committee have personal relationships with you? I’m talking about real ones, not just a piece of paper or an email response with an attachment. When RFPs and RFQs hit your Inbox out of the blue, from people with whom you have no prior relationship or history, what value to they represent to your company?
Ask yourself these 10 questions before you tie up more of your non-billable time responding to RFPs and RFQs that go nowhere.
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, is a management consultant and business coach. She helps startups and small-to-medium manufacturing and service companies who have difficulty with unpredictable revenue streams. Does this sound like your business? Contact her today.