Want to have some fun? Compare building a business relationship to a dating relationship. When they send you an RFP, they’re saying, “We took a look at you. We like you. We’re kinda thinking of taking things to the Next Level.”
Don’t get nervous! They like you! You’re halfway there. Now, with your response to that RFP, it’s time for you to define that next level (next date), to demonstrate your bona fides over other possible vendors/suitors, and to say, “Yeah. We like you, too.”
Quote management software: targeted and timely responses, always
If you’re using quote management software to address every request-for-proposal that comes your way, you’ll not only be able to respond more quickly (e.g., by using a cloud-based catalog that lets you point and click to add products/SKUs to responses) but more completely (e.g., tracking and reporting is “hardcoded” to ensure you’ll never miss a step). And nothing says “We like you, too,” better than an immediate reply that hits all the right notes.
Note that you can’t reply to an RFP without any human intervention—you need to take a close look at each prospect’s request and business needs to match them to the services/solutions you deliver. But you can, after determining there’s a fit, automate and expedite most every step that follows.
Follow an 80/20 rule for responses to RFPs. If you have an understanding of your general prospect, then you should at any time have about 80% of your response already written and ready to go (especially if you’re using an automated proposal tool that stores custom templates based on vertical market, size of business, stage of the proposal, etc.).
Why it’s ok to play “hard to get” in RFP responses
Keeping with our dating analogy, your response is still only the first date, and the goal of a first date, typically, is not marriage but a second date. So include general pricing info, but maybe not specific pricing info; show a low price, but definitely not your lowest price—you’ll need room to move, for sure.
It’s also ok to play coy with what sets you apart from your competitors. Hitting your prospect over the head with a hammer—HERE IS WHY WE’RE BETTER THAN EVERYONE EVER!—is never as effective as helping them arrive at that conclusion themselves. If you have a feature your competitors don’t have, by all means draw attention to it, but do so in a way that has your prospect seeing what you offer rather than what your competitors don’t. (After all, any publicity can be good publicity…)
Turning an RFP into a lasting business relationship
It’s easier than you think. Getting the RFP is often the toughest step. You must ensure that every step taken afterward is easy and impactful, and that’s where quote management software—and its ability to deliver and track winning responses, and ensure proper follow-up at every step—can make a world of difference.
Don’t let that “first date” be the last one. By delivering timely, targeted responses to every request, you can set the groundwork for a lasting relationship with every prospect who comes calling.