Great way to get motivated to write that proposal.
- Tendered business doesn't stick: RFPs don't lead to repeat business
- RFPs dilute your differentiation: you get shoved in a box with “half-rate competitors who compete on price.” Ouch.
- RFPs cut your margins: it's all about how cheaply you can deliver on the specifications
- They decide the rules, not you: you let the customer tell you how to do your job
- They're rigged: usually the decision has been made before the RFP is released
- They send the wrong message to your people: your employees scramble around writing up a response, pricing out a budget, and if you're really unlucky giving away your IP. They'll wonder why.
- RFPs undermine your company's sellability: companies with a unique service or product are more likely to get repeat business than those selling a commodity.
Seth Godin talks at length about what he calls the connection economy in his most recent book, “Icarus Deception: How High will you Fly?” (2012). One of its core repeating messages is the importance of authentic relationships in business and life in today's economy.
How much easier – and fun – is it to spend your business development time developing relationships with interesting people at companies that resonate with your purpose and values? I'd much rather have a client and a project emerge from a deep connection I've fostered than from a proposal I wrote to strangers not knowing much about their endeavor, the project, or what they are looking for.
What do you think about RFPs? What's your favorite way to seal a deal? How much does the connection economy figure into your business strategy?