We found ourselves in an unusual position a couple of weeks ago – we were asked to respond to a formal RFP from a huge Global business we’d not had the pleasure of working with before. This is a relatively rare occurrence – most of our business comes from existing customers, word-of-mouth referrals, our website and via our marvelous telemarketing bod, Clare.
Now, I like to think I know a fair bit about the whole process of bid response. I’m actively involved with our sister company, Sales Engine, who do this sort of thing day in, day out for companies large and small (Eyeful works closely with them to develop and design their customer bid presentations).
I’ve always been assured by Sales Engine’s MD, Steve Robinson, that the creation of a really outstanding response document is a bit of a “black art”. Over the years, he’s built a team to manage the whole process, even pulling in a couple of “tame ex-procurement directors”. With this in mind, I called in a couple of favours and got the team to review the RFP.
This is where it got interesting on a personal level…
Here at Eyeful, we’ve worked hard to understand the value we bring our customers and our position in a rapidly growing marketplace.
- We know our USPs and the benefits they bring.
- We know how our pricing compares against the competition.
- We’re able to pull upon a long list of very happy, very senior people across all manner of sectors who will sing our praises all day long.
Yet, despite all of this, I couldn’t help being more than a little nervous. Why the sense of rising panic?
I was experiencing what I now know to be a well recognised phenomenon – RFP Blindness. According to Steve, this is common affliction hitting businesses of all sizes who, despite having all the answers and being in pole position in the tender process, have to fight a rising sense of panic as the deadline looms.
How to fix it..? Well, I was in the lucky position of being able to call upon the services of the Sales Engine team at short notice (God knows what it will cost me in beer and cakes over the next few years).
Failing this option, I’d recommend running your approach, your document and your concerns past a “critical friend”. This can be someone internally or, better still, a friend in a different industry. They’ll cut to the chase and let you know if you’ve communicated the value you can bring and, more importantly, if you’ve answered the prospect’s specific questions fully.
On a more personal level, have confidence. Nothing kills the ability to think clearly than panic so plan ahead, build sufficient time into the schedule to allow you to do a proper job and never lose sight of your prospect’s needs (this is the reason you’re going through this process after all!).
Oh, and just so you know – we found out last week we were successful and have been awarded the contract! Bring on the next RFP…