Wednesday, October 8, 2014

8 Rules for successful RFP responses

There is a long-held belief if a supplier is not early in the process and part of the writing of the RFP they will not succeed in an RFP process. This is not absolute; I have been involved in successful sales campaigns even when we have known the competition was involved in defining the content of an RFP.

The key to success is discovering the process the prospect is following. They will create an internal scoring process against which they will measure each supplier. In the event the response generates a sufficiently well scored response, the next step is to move to requiring further proof; that is when you it is possible to move to the supplier of choice.

There are certain rules to follow when responding to any RFI or RFP. When there is an RFI/RFP to reply, there are certain rules that will improve the probability of success and reduce the risk of failure. 

Rule 1 – Feature/Advantage/Benefit Every single question is answered in the following format; feature, advantage and benefits. Demonstrate an understanding of technical and business issues; always ensure there are detailed benefits.

Rule 2 – Earn the right to an opinion Answer all the questions asked. Only when this is complete, offer additional information. The RFI/RFP is a test and with scores, like any test it is essential to answer the questions asked. If there is additional information deemed pertinent to a response, add this only when the answers to the questions asked are complete. People have limited time, and they are scoring the response, clearly answer the question. Make it easy to gain a positive score on each topic. 

Rule 3 – Build a solution Do not mention product names unless specifically asked. Use the capability of the products to meet the prospect needs. Keep clear blue water between selling and implementation. Adding unnecessary product names will only confuse the prospect. They asked a question, answer it simply, and do not confuse the reader. 

Rule 4 - Express the Unique Selling Points Wrap the USP’s into every answer possible and sell them to the prospect.

Rule 5 – Express the Customer’s Customer benefits Focus on the ultimate benefit the customer gains from our solution. They are buying for a reason; ultimately, this will add value to the customer of the customer. Understand what ultimate value the product drives and articulate it clearly. 

Rule 6 – Deliver prospect specific messaging Determine key messages; consistently weave these messages in the response, e.g. if the determination is the requirements are ease-of-use, fast, intelligent, etc. then ensure this messaging is included consistently throughout the response.

Rule 7 – Quality shines through Produce a fully bound, color, response. Deliver the most professional proposal of those tendered.

Rule 8 – Deliver early Deliver the response on the prospect site at least one full day earlier than the deadline. Associate the response with efficiency and timeliness. Most vendors will leave delivery until the last minute, sometimes asking for extensions. There is no need, get ahead of the curve and let the prospect see you as being the most professional vendor and delivering ahead of expectations.

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