RFP means one of two things. It's either 'Real Fools Participate' or 'Request For Probing,' according to Steve Waterhouse, the Principal and Founder of Waterhouse Group, a sales consulting and training company.
Real Fools are the ones that read the document and believe every word, he says. It wil state, "All questions must be in writing" and "Contact with the company must be through the purchasing office." If you play this game, you are falling into the trap of thinking that this makes a level playing field for all bidders.
The probability of winning business from responding to an RPF where you have no relationship with the client is so close to zero as to not be worth discussing. Unfortunately, everyone has won one or two and believes that they are the exception, Waterhouse says. Studies done by the Waterhouse Group and others show otherwise.
- Refuse to look at an RFP as an immediate need to begin preparing a proposal. It's not. In fact, in most cases, you would be better off making another cold call than responding to the RFP's terms.
- Redefine the RFP as a Request For Probe. That means, the prospect has sent up a signal flare that identifies a source of potential business. Treat it like any other hot lead.
- Assuming that the business outlined in the RFP is business you want or that it could lead to business you want, start digging.
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