RFP Process

Improving B2B Sales Closing Rates by Influencing the RFP Process

One of the best scenarios for a B2B sales person is being tied to a sales opportunity early enough that if the prospect begins the RFP process, you can have some influence over how it is written. Ideally, as sales people we would hope that clients do not go the RFP route, but in fairness it is part of many firms’ standard procurement processes: it is oftentimes a necessary process that has to happen.
 
In our experience, if you are not able to influence the RFP process while it is in development, the likelihood of winning the bid is very low, probably less than 10%. Given the time it takes to respond to an RFP, this sort of closing success rate can make it hard to justify the investment of time.
 
On the flip side, if you are able to work with the purchaser on defining their needs, outlining their business pains and challenges and work out viable solutions, this can have a dramatic impact on how the RFP is written. When you are involved in the writing process, the likelihood of closing is over 50% and I would say in many cases over 75% depending on what product or service you are selling and their complexity.
 
Here are three ideas to help put you in a position of influence:

 

Be at the table early

 
This is always your best bet. Ensure you are part of the conversation while your prospect is identifying and assessing their needs. As the RFP process develops and you have positioned how you/your solution can help, you have the ability to help influence how the RFP is written, weighted and graded. If done correctly, you will find that many of the questions and their subsequent answers are tailored to your solution and what your company brings to the table.
 

Be consultative

 
Be a solution provider to their business pains. Provide good advice and suggestions that have their best interest in mind. Trust and honesty are two big parts of this. All solid relationships are built on trust and if your prospect believes you have their best interests in mind then you have a much higher chance at influencing the RFP writing process.
 

Where possible, identify the core decision makers and influencers

 
Knowing who the core RFP decision team is definitely helps. Where possible, engage these various individuals, which can either be budget holders, the final decision maker, or influencers, in conversation to understand their range of wants and needs. The more support you have across the organization and the clearer the various parties are on what you provide, the better your chances of influencing the RFP process, and subsequently winning it.
 
If you’re looking for tips on how to improve your B2B sales lead generation efforts or are considering outsourcing your B2B sales and marketing, please don’t hesitate to contact us. For great insight into startup sales and marketing, feel free to sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Twitter.