Tag Archives: executive presence

RFPs? Don’t Be Afraid to “Just Say No.”

30 Sep

Here’s some advice you likely won’t hear very often.  But, we’re not afraid to say it.  You ready?  Here it is.

Don’t respond to RFPs.

What? 

We mean it.  Ignore them.  Let them go.  They’re often a waste of your valuable time and money.  Here’s why…

Most RFPs are little more than a gauge that companies use to determine if they’re getting the best bang for the buck from their current provider.   Or, along the same line, some RFPs may represent a simple warning to current providers that they better not take the business for granted.   Without a dramatic difference in costs, an irreparably damaged relationship or some other unlikelihood, change from one vendor to another is highly unlikely.

It’s unlikely because the incumbent has a significant advantage over the competition from square one.   Assuming they’re doing their job, the incumbent has an established relationship with their client. They are a known quantity, a familiar face.  They are the path of least resistance, a simple choice against even the most qualified RFP responder.

So, what should you do when you receive that RFP on a piece of business you’ve been eyeing hungrily?  We suggest you politely decline to enter the bidding process unless you are given an opportunity to meet with top management “face to face”.

Here is how the conversation might go.

________________________________________________________________

“I regret to inform you that we will not be responding to your RFP.”

“What?  Why not?”

“Because, we don’t know you well enough.”

“Don’t you want our business?”

“Of course we do.  As you know, we have been calling on you for years.  The problem is that we don’t know you well enough.  We don’t yet know how we can properly add value to your company.  However, if we are able to first meet with you and the people who have suggested you need to make a change, we will be happy to put together our response.”

“The details are all in the RFP.  Why would you need to meet us?”

“Here’s why.  We care very much about developing a personalized and proprietary relationship with our clients in order to assure mutual success.  Our uniqueness lies in our specialized approach and the talent of our people.   We believe that mutual success requires a collaborative effort put forth over time, in a series of face-to-face meetings to discuss philosophy, commonalities, and policy.  With these in place, we establish trust and, ultimately, true partnership.  You won’t get that from an RFP.”

_____________________________________________________________

There you have it.  Don’t waste your valuable time or money responding to an RFP if you don’t already have a strong and trusted relationship with the prospective client.  Sophisticated, long-term transactions must include several options and numerous items to be considered as a team.

There are no simple answers, no simply bids for successful business relationships. Top management must be willing to meet with a potential service provider to determine the potential for partnership.  This requires face-to-face meetings and open discussions in order to establish relationships and build trust.  

Without trust there is no relationship.

Good business decisions cannot be made in a vacuum.  If the playing field is to be level then all parties must be given equal time to understand the scenario, challenges or opportunities.   

Moral of the story:  Don’t get caught up in the RFP rat race.  Sometimes, you need to just say no.

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Hurry Up and Slow Down

2 Oct

For years now, communications in the workplace and in our personal lives have been firing on all cylinders.  Emails, texts, tweets, live video conferencing and more have led to a frenetic “now, now, now” mentality.   We receive a text and we reply immediately.   We fill even precious seconds of downtime with Outlook, Facebook, Words with Friends and Twitter.

I’ll admit it.  I see that little red dot on my Smart Phone, hovering over email and some cosmic force compels me… Must.  Click.  Button.   And, once opened, it’s difficult to sit back and leave my reply for another moment.    Instead, I shoot off a reply at the first opportunity, clearing one small task from an ever growing “to do” list.  It’s cyberspace tennis and we’re all just trying to ensure the ball lands in someone else’s court.

There’s no doubt that, at work and play, we are often blessed by this new ability to get our messages across quickly.  But, have we consequently lost the ability to provide thoughtful answers to the more important questions?   Are we putting important relationships at risk?  Do you know when to seek out a face-to-face meeting?  Do you know when to stop a text rally and pick up the telephone?

Clearly, there are times when we know to communicate more personally.   No one wants to be laid off by a boss, dumped by a girlfriend, or denied a raise over email. Email and text messages are ideal for succinct, clear, emotionless details sent between people with a mutual understanding of the relationship.   Sending a text or email allows us to focus on the “objective” of the message but not the human recipient.  There’s little room for relationship development, tone and emotional clarity in 140 characters or less.

The idea exists that showing emotion in the business world is a sign of weakness.   However, let’s keep these examples in mind.

  • Would you buy a car online?  Or, would you be more likely to buy it from a man who loved the vehicle so much that his eyes lit up when talking about a recent road trip?
  • Would you be more likely to help out a co-worker who walked into your office and humbly asked for assistance?  Or, would you help the one who asked over text message?
  • Would you be more motivated by the boss that looked you in the eye and gratefully shook your hand after a job well done?  Or, by the one who shot off an email later that night?

Think about it the next time you’re racing to get your message delivered.  There’s a time, a place and a need for speed in our lives.  But, there’s also great opportunity in taking the time to stop, think and put down the device.  Your message may not get there as quickly.  But, it might just get there more effectively.

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