Last week we made the case that merely meeting compliance requirements is not enough to win large RFPs. Buyers rightly expect bidders to show how their solutions will do more than meet the bare minimum.
Instead you need to show you really understand and can be trusted to perform. Do this with insight into the prospect’s situation, why it’s making this purchase now, and by linking features to benefits that really matter.
Responsiveness starts with understanding your prospect.
Understanding strategic drivers
Every RFP is issued in response to a need. But the need may have existed for some time. Why has the prospect decided to make this investment now? Is it defending against a competitor’s move? Is it fighting a decline in market share? Does it see a new opportunity? Is it seeking to reduce costs? Is it facing compliance issues?
Knowing the answers to these questions gives you a significant leg up in developing a solution. You’ll know, for example, how best to make performance vs. cost and other trade-offs and how to explain these decisions in the narrative.
Managing hot button issues
In contrast to companywide strategic drivers, hot button issues are more evaluator specific. A given issue can matter to a single evaluator or to a specific buyer type—but in every case it’s a condition of their support.
Here are examples of hot button issues:
- Desire to avoid cost overruns
- Focus on on-time completion
- Preference for or against a particular technology or process
- Safety or other risk concerns
- Ease of implementation and/or use
- Clarity around billing arrangements
- Single point of contact and other communication issues
In this post, we describe how to use hot button issues in strategy making.
Drivers and issues change over time
It’s risky to assume what mattered to a prospect in a previous RFP still matters today. As technologies mature, for example, reliability typically becomes a given and relative cost becomes more important. As needs change, energy efficiency may outrank throughput as a priority.
Ensure your assumptions about drivers and issues are as current as possible (see below).
What does sales know?
The importance of building proposals around strategic drivers and hot button issues highlights the critical role of sales in responding to RFPs.
Most successful bidders for complex contracts have business developers trained to build close relationships with multiple prospect team members, to listen carefully, and to keep notes. Then, when the RFP is finally issued, they can mine their accumulated knowledge for nuggets of responsiveness gold.
Need help focussing on the needs of your prospect?