Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Sometimes the best deal is no deal.
In these difficult economic times, it would be easy to see an RFP as a great opportunity to add desperately needed revenues.  That’s not always true.  I advise clients to ask themselves a few key questions before they commit the resources (and the distraction) to respond to an RFP.  Among those questions:
  • Is this opportunity a good fit for us from a strategic point of view (e.g.., does it open new markets, keep a competitor out, better serve a key customer)?
  • Is the incumbent participating?  If not, why not?
  • What’s the client’s financial situation?  And the corollary to that one, is this a client we would be proud to be associated with?
  • Did we influence the RFP specifications?  If we didn’t, who did?  And did that person or organization insert specifications that make it a bad deal for us?
  • What is their budget?  Why are they issuing an RFP?
  • Do we understand the decision process? If so, are we in a good position?
  • Is the client really looking for a new partner or is this a way for them to get some free consulting/fresh ideas that they will turn over to the “winner?”
  • Is this a proposal that can be won with a strong value proposition or is the decision going to be made on the basis of money?  And do you care?

In many cases, the consultant driving the RFP or the company itself (if it is working without a consultant) may put something in the document that says you can’t ask questions or get additional information (or that you have to go through the consultant).  Your goal in those situations should be to change the ground rules and find out all you can about this opportunity.  In a future blog, I’ll talk about ways you can do that and still get the business.

If you want it.