Lesson #3 For Sales Teams: The Danger of RFPs


RFP   Lesson # 3 for Sales Teams:  The Danger of RFPs:  Why write long RFPs when there’s a better way?

Any salesperson knows that responding to RFPs (Requests for Proposals) is a huge time and resource commitment.  And it’s often a waste of effort.  It’s an activity that usually involves numerous cross-functional teams, long hours, detailed responses and reams of paper.  It doesn’t build brand but does take key personnel away from billable work.

i.            My first recommendation: Don’t respond.   I realized a long time ago that if we had to submit an RFP it was because we didn’t have the right relationship already in place.  If we receive a request for submission now without prior conversations it’s ignored.

ii.            Automate:  When I wrote responses to RFPs I would often cut and paste as much as possible to answer the standard questions.  Now, we assign junior team members to tackle these using extracted data from all our previously completed RFPs.  This allows our sales teams to stay focused on current customers.

iii.            Videos:  Once upon a time, instead of completing the requestors confusing and outdated template we simply sent them a video… and won the contract.  Our submission was all of 2 ½ minutes long, introduced our solution, prices and timing and added a guarantee.  We recommended that they call us if they were interested in learning more and they did.  Picture a team in a War Room reviewing a dozen or more documents that all look similar, and then coming across our DVD.  The customer paid rapt attention during our orals and even invited their senior leaders to attend. We now boiler-plate even this process keeping the same two thirds of the video and creating a customized introduction for each client.  Our win rate for this has been significant.

iv.            Charge For Discovery:  There are times when RFPs are appropriate.  But I still don’t like to do the work for free. For big opportunities I now often pitch a “Discovery” phase at a fixed price.  Doing so demonstrates that we want to provide the right customized solution but that our time is valuable.  When customers aren’t sure what they need, guiding them through an analysis phase has great value, and allows you to build a relationship along the way.


Until next time,

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Crowe Mead




Posted on by Crowe Mead in Leadership, Sales, Strategy

2 Responses to Lesson #3 For Sales Teams: The Danger of RFPs

  1. Ed

    Enjoyed every bit of your post.Thanks Again.

  2. Roberto

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate your efforts
    and I am waiting for your next write ups thank you once

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