Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why I Won't Respond to Your RFP

A little reality jolt here people.


I can hear you....

What?  I just got an RFP with a $200k budget for a 50 x 50 booth.  I really want that business and if I do a great job, fill out all the questions, spend hours and hours and hours on structure design and answering every little detail they ask.  Even if they ask what color underwear I am going to answer because that is going to earn me that business!  You are crazy to not fill out that RFP!

Sorry.  Won't do them anymore.

Now, I will put one small caveat here.  If the company will meet with us to go over their design request, I will consider submitting a design and responding to the RFP.  Or if they allow us to present our design to them, I may consider.  

If you don't get a meeting with the decision makers, or don't get to present your concepts in person or via virtual conference,  run fast; very fast. 
Image result for run very fast
Here are is reality.
  • If you are not the incumbent exhibit house you have about a 2% chance of earning their business.
  • You cannot do an exhibit design (especially an island) justice on paper.  It needs to be presented.
  • Marketing people send out RFP's because their boss told them to get 4 competitive bids.
  • Generally speaking, they already know from whom they want to buy.
  • You will spend hours filling these out.  Oh and don't forget they want to see your financial statements.
  • You will take potential billable resources like a structure designer and waste a lot of their time.
  • And references?  They will ask for references and never contact any of them.
Image result for revenue producing activitiesI may sound a bit jaded here.   Here is the way I look at it.  It is not high probability business.  Period.  I would much rather my reps are focused on higher potential revenue earning activities than losing hours on an RFP.
Is there the rare occasion when you blow them away with your design or have a lower price point than your competitors?  Of course.  But it is not the norm.  

Here at Total Displays we look at our customer relationships as partnerships.  Exhibit design is a process and generally multiple iterations of designs are done, with communication.  Communication.  Remember that?  It is a wonderful thing.

RFP's are 'make-work' all around.  Some marketing manager either spent hours doing it themselves or heaven forbid they paid a high priced consultant to meet with them multiple times and put it together for them.

Back in my software days, you really don't want to know what I did with software RFP's.  Let's just say we could do EVERYTHING that was listed on the RFP.  😁

Carry on.  Sell strong.  Don't waste your time.

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Lori Hanken has been in sales and marketing for over 30 years. She is passionate about service and providing value to her vendors, prospects and clients. Lori is currently co-owner of Total Displays with her husband David. They help people look great at events, trade shows, in retail, museums and develop long partnerships with customers and suppliers. If you would like to learn more, email her at lori@totaldisplays.com. She is an open networker, connect with her on LinkedIn here.

Read other Total Displays Blog posts at http://totaldisplays.blogspot.com/

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