What does it take to lose a big bid to a competitor? There’s no shortage of ways, but here are a few of the more common mistakes companies make when responding to an RFP:
- They answer the question they want to answer, not the question that’s being asked – Maybe the prospect wants specific details on how they would work with the prospect’s current cloud service provider … but the firm writing the bid currently partners with another cloud company. So they go ahead and ignore the original question and plug their own partner’s virtues instead.
- They ‘spin’ their credentials to make it look like they’ve done things they haven’t – In one part of the RFP, the prospect asks for case studies illustrating the bidding company’s experience with long-range planning for large cities with populations of over one million. The problem is: the company hasn’t worked with cities of that size. That’s OK … they can provide three glowing case studies about smaller towns they’ve worked with, leave out the names and hope no one asks for more details.
- They use big words to sound important – Sentences like, “We help banks offer online and mobile services to their customers,” don’t make a company sound nearly important, global and high-tech enough. They decide they’re much better off saying something like, “We facilitate the implementation of multi-channel interactive applications for financial institutions pursuing an internationalized client base.”
- They ignore important instructions – Why should it matter whether the executive summary is titled, “Executive_Summary_from_the_CEO.doc” (which the company’s CEO wants) or “Executive_Summary_from_Our_Company_Inc.doc” (which is how the prospect wants it, based on the RFP instructions)? The information’s the same either way, isn’t it? It’s obvious either way that this is the executive summary, right?
- They focus only on making their own company look good – So they need to be sure to emphasize their star quality throughout their response, rather than focus on the prospect’s problems and needs. The prospect needs to be wowed with marketing hype, not bored with details about how their company can help it relieve its pain points, solve its problems and meet its goals.