What Would You Do? They Want a Proposal

RFP’s, love or hate them, they are apart of the sales world. I’ve yet to work in an environment where RFP’s were a good way to win business.  Determining to respond to RFP’s is a difficult decision. They take a lot of time and more are lost than won.

Terrence has been calling on PostView corp for a little over a year. He’s carefully built a strong network of supporters.  He has known PostView would be changing their supply chain software soon. Terrance had been positioning to be their new software provider for the past year. He had given demos to the accounting team, to the CEO and COO, and to supply chain where the software would be used. His competitor is the incumbent and is positioning to keep the account.

Postview has told Terrence they were very impressed with his companies software and that it was their choice for their new supply chain effort. They had committed to an “official” announcement by end of the quarter. Terrance continued to stay in front of his buyers regularly. Knowing his competition was fighting to keep the account, Terrence was very diligent in making sure he stayed on top of things.  A week before quarter end, Postview announced a new CEO.  Terrence knew this was not good. He had to scramble.

Terrence put calls into his buyers, the COO, and everyone on the decision team.  They assured him things were still on track. Terrence wasn’t convinced.

A week later, Terrence’s buyer called to say that the deal was put on hold. The new CEO wanted to look at the project. Knowing this was not good, Terrence asked for a meeting with the new CEO.  He was told no and that the new CEO was relying on his internal team to provide guidance. After two excruciating weeks, PostView calls Terrance back to let him know that they are going to put the deal out to RFP. His buyer assures him it’s just a formality and that his company is still going to get the business.  Terrance asks if he can assist in the creation of the RFP. He’s told no and that none of the vendors are participating in its creation. His buyer assures him again, he has nothing to worry about.  He tells him he should expect it next week and he and company will have 2 weeks to respond.

Terrance knows his position in this deal has been compromised.  He doesn’t know the new CEO. His company is terrible with RFP’s and has a very low win rate with RFP business.  Terrence has almost always relied on his relationships to win business. His main competitor is a larger more established company with all the resources in the world to throw at this RFP.  The new decision process is right in their wheelhouse.  In addition, PostView has opened it up to other vendors as well.  The field has just grown.

Terrence is no longer convinced he is in a good buying position. He has invested over a year in working this account. He is concerned all that work is now in jeopardy. He doesn’t think his company can win in this environment. He has good relationships, but the new CEO has heavy influence, as displayed by the new decision process and he can’t get in front of him. His competitor is better equipped to win RFP’s.  His company doesn’t have the resources the competition does and they have historically low RFP win rates.

Terrance is seriously considering not proposing and accepting the loss.  He has a number of good opportunities in the pipeline. None as big as this, but opportunities he feels he is better positioned to win and match his companies strengths better. Terrence has a big decision to make.

What would you do?  Would you respond to the RFP?  Would you walk away and not waste anymore time? What would you do in this situation?



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