Should we respond to a blind RFP?

When it comes to blind RFPs half of sales managers tell their reps, “don’t waste your time.”

The other half say “jump all over them.”

How about you?

How many blind RFPs have your reps submitted to MERX and won in the last 12 months?

Fact is…

Most organizations “go to tender” because they’re…

(a) Gathering ideas from bidders to share with their incumbent.

(b) Following procurement protocols yet sticking with their incumbent.

(c) Putting their incumbent “on notice” but not likely dropping them.

(d) Doing price shopping for renewal leverage with their incumbent.

(e) Actually looking for a new vendor or replacing one.

Knowing this…

Before I respond to a blind RFP here’s what I check:

First, I count the vendors on MERX who are registered to bid. If only 2 are bidding I’ve got a 50% chance of winning. If 4 bid 25%, if 10 bid my win rate drops to 10%. As a rule of thumb, my risk tolerance for RFPs is a 30% win rate. Likely they’ll be 20 bidders, or more. Am I confident I can beat 14 out of 20 to be at a 30% win rate.

Second, I check if the participants are one of the top three industry leaders. If so, I assume they’ve already had a discovery call with the prospect. That makes me a dark horse. I lower my bid win rate to 20%.

Third, do I have a relationship with anyone in the RFP organization? If not, I’m just a face in the crowd. I again lower my bid win rate to 10%.

How do you like those odds?

The question becomes…

How can I increase my bid win rate from 10% to 30% with dozens of competitors, knowing I’m NOT a top 3 industry player, and have no relationship with the anyone in the tendering organization?

There is a way. And it’s called INSIGHT

So, to get get insight here’s what I do:

I call or email the person in charge of the RFP and gently ask…

“Would you be open to a 10 minutes call to learn if we should respond to your RFP? It would save us both time and effort early on… if we can learn early that we’re not a fit. Will email you the questions before our call…”

If they refuse my 10 minute call request or won’t answer my questions via email, then I won’t write the RFP. Because with no insight, I have a 10% win rate. Not worth it.

If they accept my call request, I get answers to questions my competitors probably haven’t asked. This gives me a slight edge in crafting my response. I’ve also seeded a relationship with them.

My top 5 RFP questions:

1. Is there an incumbent?

2. How long have they been the incumbent?

3. What are the reasons you’re going to RFP?

4. Have you met with any of the registrants already?

5. What weighting % will pricing play in your final decision?

Question #5 is critical because more than 50% of RFP reviewers go straight to the pricing page first and read little else.

These five questions are fair and here’s why:

I’m not prying for names or numbers. Just asking for high level insight. This allows me to frame a competitive response and have a fighting chance. (30%)

And just like that, with the help of my 5 question list, I’ve turned a blind RFP into a visible one.

Sound like a stretch?

P.S: Whenever you’re ready… here’s how I can help you hire sales reps so your business grows.

How to evaluate a blind rfp