Have you noticed that by the time a request for proposal (RFP) is sent out by a prospect account, the sale is pretty much over? Before the RFP goes out, the customer has developed criteria that will likely determine who will win the business. Even so, the ritual ensues, where competing vendors invest countless hours and dollars preparing proposal responses that they hope will win the sale. In nine out of ten opportunities, however, the vendor who actually gets selected is the one who helped write the customer’s RFP.
Request for proposals are compilations of the criteria that will be used to make a buying decision. It stands to reason, therefore, that sellers have a much better chance of winning when the criteria being used for the decision closely matches their solution. But who is responsible for establishing the criteria for the evaluation and decision? If you leave it up to your prospects to establish their own criteria, the RFP may not reflect your areas of strength, or it could be so generic as to invite more competition. Worse yet, if you don’t help prospects define the criteria for their decisions, your competitors will.