Sales Training Tip #374: RFPs — Win by Not Winning?

Did you know it is possible to win in an RFP situation, even if you don’t actually get that particular sale?

Yes, you can win by losing. It’s not as strange as it may sound.  Many times the vendor that wins an RFP wins the RFP due to cutting their price so low that it becomes next to impossible for that vendor to make a profit, let alone be able to fulfill the terms of the RFP.

This means the company that is expecting the vendor to take care of things may suddenly find themselves in a position where they need an emergency order. This is where you come in.  By being a vendor that participated in the RFP process, you have the ability to get to know the buyer and their needs, and they get the opportunity to get to know you.

By creating a strong relationship with them during the RFP process, you can then become the salesperson they call upon when they need something quickly.   With the company looking for something suddenly, they’re also going to be less prone to push you about the price.  This allows you to make the margin you want.  I’ve seen on several occasions where the company that winds up being the “emergency supplier” actually makes more profit than the company that won the RFP.   What’s even better is the company that didn’t win the RFP is able to make their profit with a lot less work and certainly a lot less hassle.

The key criteria in making this work is by participating in the RFP process in good faith and using every opportunity throughout the RFP process to be able to meet with the buyer to allow them to have as much of a knowledge base about you as possible.   Having them know as much about you does not mean you want to do a capabilities demonstration for them. No, it means they merely need to feel confident that you could handle an emergency situation.

Keep in mind that when the buyer gets into trouble with their current vendor, they only want to have to make one phone call to take care of their problem. You want that one phone call to be made to you.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a long time, this is where my quote “a customer that calls you is a full-margin customer” comes from.  They’re full-margin because they have pain and they need it taken care of right away. 

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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