Are you Request for Proposal winner or loser?
As president of a large ad agency, I was often forced to play the Requests for Proposals (RFP) game. And I won and lost my fair share.
According to Investopedia, the RFP is a business document that announces and provides details about a project, as well as solicits bids from contractors who will help complete the project. In many cases, governments only use requests for proposal. The RFP process requires the company to review the bids to examine their feasibility, the health of the bidding company, and the bidder's ability to do what is proposed.
Lisa Rehurek is disrupting the tired RFP game, bringing her down-to-earth, “get it done” personality and fresh approach to winning more business.
I met Rehurek when she asked me to edit her latest book. After a successful twenty-five-year career in corporate leadership positions, Rehurek went out on her own to share her expertise and experience to improve RFP results for businesses of all sizes. She and her team at The RFP Success Company have trained hundreds of business development staff and helped organizations win over $50 million in new business.
As an eight-time author, national speaker/trainer, podcast host, and business builder, I asked Rehurek to offer advice on the true cost of being a loser:
Money. “The most immediate effect of a lost RFP is the absence of new revenue. Companies depend heavily on their RFP/capture teams to secure opportunity wins on a consistent basis. New contracts equal new revenue, that’s obvious. However, when a company loses an RFP opportunity, the ripple effect is felt throughout the company. When we win an RFP, we not only win the business now, but we have a much higher potential of winning the business into the future.”
Lifetime Customer Value. “There is exponential future revenue potential in the customer that you win today. New contracts don’t just equal new revenue in the now – they also create future revenue potential. Conversely, in addition to the potential contract amount that was up for bid, a failed RFP means the company has also lost the potential to repeatedly close with the new client/customer, or, at the very least, delayed the ability.”
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Hard Expenses. “Expenses spent completing a failed RFP can be a hard-hitting dose of reality. In addition to these hard expenses, companies incur a direct hit in terms of employee salary spend. What’s interesting is that most companies never calculate this, therefore this number is never known.”
Market Credibility. “Whether we like it or not, reputation matters. And a reputation precedes every RFP. In a recent article, RFPIO asserted peer recommendations influence about 90% of buying decisions. Successful companies become known in the marketplace. A buzz is created and their name comes up in more conversations.”
Internal confidence. “RFP losses will eventually shake team confidence. When RFP and capture teams begin a downward spiral of consistent losses, team members begin to question the organization’s market position, their colleagues’ expertise, as well as their own. As team confidence wanes, team members begin experiencing task avoidance, indecision, and inter-team hostility while reporting increased levels of workplace stress. Is this the team you want in charge of creating a winning proposal? Knowing what each employee is motivated by is your job as leader. Among those factors are learning opportunities, recognition, harmony, competitiveness, serving the greater good, and structure. When they are rewarded for what they are motivated by, they will be deeply engaged.”
Employee Retention. “Great team members stay with great teams. And great team members leave losing teams. High-performing, highly engaged team members are created through great leadership, achievements (which creates confidence), and commitment to purpose. Even the best all-star response teams begin to slowly fall apart after consecutive losses. Great team members want to work with other great team members. And they want to work for a winning organization. High performers know reputation matters and staying at a company that continues to lose doesn’t aid their professional goals.”
The bottom line is, if you are going to play the RFP game you better play it to win.