“If you know why a buyer runs an RFP, you also know what your likelihood is to win business.” – Mark Schenkius in today’s Tip 916
Are you making sure you ask the appropriate questions before you enter into an RFP process again?
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Scott Ingram: You’re listening to the Daily Sales Tips podcast and I’m your host, Scott Ingram. Today’s tip comes from Mark Schenkius. Mark is the founder of ROI 10 where he helps sales professionals get better at dealing with buyers. He’s also the author of “The Other Side of Sales,” where he shares his perspective after 15 years in procurement. Here he is:
Mark Schenkius: In many RFP processes there is a so-called blackout period. Sellers are told not to talk to anyone else except the procurement person leading the process. I understand there’s always lots of debate on the sales side around what to do about this. And that makes perfect sense, because you have spent so much time putting a proposal together that it only feels fair that you are informed about the status of the project.
Firstly, I would like to say that if you haven’t done so already, I would recommend that you listen to Daily Sales tip #771. In this tip, I explain the motives behind an RFP process. If you know why a buyer runs an RFP, you also know what your likelihood is to win business. It will help you put things in perspective.
Secondly, no news doesn’t mean good news nor does it mean bad news. We often have the tendency to believe that no news is bad news which is not necessarily the case. I know that often these RFP processes lead to a “no decision”, however, don’t assume this is the case or you have lost already.
Instead, be aware that there is usually lots of internal debate throughout these RFP processes. Buyers believe the benefits are worthwhile changing supplier for while on the other hand, operational teams prefer to stick with the old supplier since change means higher workload and potential impact on service.
In the end, the full team needs to make a proposal to the senior leaders for approval hence the team needs to be aligned. This takes time. During this period, the risk is that you start compromising on your initial proposal out of fear of losing.
So, what to do about this? When you feel left in the dark, it’s ok to call the buyer and ask them. Please don’t send an e-mail since there is a high likelihood you will not get a response. Choose your words carefully when calling them. For example, you could say something like this:
As you might know, we have spent a lot of time with our team putting a proposal together that we believe suits your needs. Me and the rest of the team are very curious to hear what you think of it. Are you currently in the position to provide feedback to us?
If no, your follow-up question could be: Could you tell us at what stage you are currently in the process? Can you provide some more details on the expected timings?
Closing off with the question: Is there anything else you need from us currently? Are you ok if I call you again on date x to ask about the status of this project? As you know we are very eager to work with you.
If you can’t get through to your buyer, you could also use your own network to find out more.
Who in your organization might know someone in the buying team? A casually planned catch-up could already provide interesting information. Usually, the non-buying members of the buying team are not as commercially savvy as buyers are. Tread carefully though. You don’t want to upset the buyer here.
If all of this is not going to work, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to be patient this time and make sure you ask the appropriate questions before you enter into an RFP process again.
Good luck and happy negotiations everyone!
Scott Ingram: For more insights from the professional buyer’s perspective. Definitely check out Mark’s book: “The Other Side of Sales,” and as always we’ll have links to that and more for you at DailySales.Tips/916
Once you’ve clicked over there, be sure to click back here either to continue your binge or for another great sales tip tomorrow. Either way, thanks for listening!