June 03, 2021

We Don't Do RFPs (This is why)

Imagine this scenario playing out in your office. You meet with the perfect candidate for a hard to fill role and the following dialogue takes place. 

You: I think you may be a good fit for this job we have.

Candidate: Great, I look forward to learning more about your company, the challenges you have, and sharing my experience in solving those challenges.

You: No need. You've seen the JD, you can look at our website, here's the expectations for the role. We just need you to send us your full resume, portfolio, and salary requirements. We don't have time to go through the hiring process with each candidate so this will be all that we need to make our decision.

Does this make much sense to you? How many candidates would you hire without having a truly two-way conversation with them allowing them to evaluate you as equally as you evaluate them? Not many, I would imagine. There are things about them that you do not know and no doubt, they could say the same about you. Believe it or not, this same scenario is playing out in businesses around the world; with one difference. Instead of receiving resumes, businesses are entertaining requests for proposals (RFPs) and wasting much more time that doesn’t translate into making better purchasing decisions.

For the sake of clarity, a request for proposal (RFP) is a tool used by businesses to secure vendors. Basically how it works, a company writes up a document that says we need  “X,” what can you do for us? Said company then sends out that document to potential suppliers who respond with their best sales pitch. A bidding process follows and thereafter, a winner is chosen and business proceeds. Although I am making light of it, the entire situation is very traditional,  cumbersome and often a waste of time and energy for a variety of reasons, especially if you are shopping for a service provider and not a piece of technology. Services like ours sell people and their experience and skills, not a product, so RFP processes can make things a bit too transactional. Here are four top reasons why we’ve made a decision as a company to no longer participate in RFPs:

  1. RFPs assume a lot, too much really. If your company solicits vendors for proposals, the vendor is going to assume that the RFP has everything that the company is looking for; a reasonable assumption. But what if the company doesn’t know what they don’t know? What if they only know so much and missed that one small thing that could mean big bucks later? If a vendor goes through an unending list of questions in a proposal request, what are the chances that they will uncover an issue that the company itself might not realize they have? RFPs often miss the big picture and as a result, overlook strategic opportunities that vendors can capitalize on. Moreover, why do RFPs even exist?  My cynical response, which is the most honest one, is so companies don’t have to talk to people. Bottom line: A conversation is needed because people do business with people.

  2. With RFPs, price tags are just a suggestion. Business to business (B2B transactions are not the same as walking into a local Walmart and buying a candybar off the shelf. More often than not, there is a long consideration before money is exchanged with a long list of variables. Is there an existing relationship with a vendor that has proven to be an asset to the company? If so, certain trade offs might be considered. Are they a new unproven entity? If so, what assurances are there that our requests will be made and what happens when they are not? What about brainstorming new solutions and innovating with existing ones? How can old fixes be reapplied? Successful strategies take time and finding the right answer for a specific issue should be reflected in the final pricing. Base pricing may help you understand your budget but that doesn’t always account for added items you had not considered prior.  Bottom line: A conversation is needed to find the best price for your company.  

  3. RFPs can be a no-win situation. If a company solicits proposals they will receive more than they bargained for and quite possibly become overwhelmed. Out of the fray, a slick salesperson will give you a demo of a product that works perfectly out of the box for a company that does not exist. In your haste to fix things, you sign up immediately only to discover that there are a torrent of customizations to make it work for you. In a relatively short period of time, you realize that the product you just paid for is not right for your company. However, due to ego, you grin and bear it and force everyone to make it work when in your heart you know it cannot. All of that could have been avoided. Bottom line: A two-way sales process is needed to find the best solution for your company.  

  4. RFPs help you find the lowest bidder but not the best company. Think about your best clients and favorite business partners. Likely you’ve worked with them for an extended period of time, cultivating a relationship that has paid off in the long run. How likely would that be the case if you compelled them to answer a litany of questions every other year? At the least, they would be confused on why they had to re-interview after working with you for so long and at worst, they would keep their operations with you as purely transactional. No going above and beyond or leveraging favors in a crisis, only the basics. This is one of the disadvantages of Request for Proposal (RFP). It argues against the long-term possibilities. Bottom line: A conversation is needed to build a long term relationship.

We at Proactive Talent do business differently. We are driven by conversations that get to the heart of the matter. We seek to learn who you are and not what we think you are. Likewise, we want you to get to know us. There is a lot of information about us on our website and in the content we produce but so much more is available once you speak with us and that extra bit of information may be what you didn’t know you needed to make that quality business decision. 

If you are in the market for any of our products or strategic services, click here to contact us. There is no time like the present and we are eager to get to know you and do business with you today or tomorrow or much further into the future.

Will Staney, CEO

P.S. Here is a list of our services at a glance. 

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