The RFP: Path to New Business Opportunity or Hopeless Roadblock? Introduction

Over the years, we have had the good fortune to work with great clients, many of whom we have had relationships with that go back a decade and more. Our clients come to us through a variety of channels. Some seek us out based on our reputation and body of work; some have been referred to us by other clients and friends; some come from our networking, inbound marketing and outbound prospecting efforts.  In all these cases, we nurture and develop contacts as we move from casual conversation to meaningful client relationship.

While as an agency we certainly concentrate our business development efforts in the aforementioned areas, there is another, much less fruitful channel that brings us the occasional opportunity: The surprise Request for Proposal (RFP).

From an agency point of view, the RFP process isn’t one that inherently carries a high degree of upside.  It’s a selection system designed to put up roadblocks and potential pitfalls that are prohibitive relative to win rate. Getting straight to the point, it’s a flawed system that we do not embrace as a viable new business channel. As such, we often pass on these types of opportunities.

The main issues we repeatedly see with RFP’s fall into five main categories: Unrealistic timelines, limited discovery and face-to-face time with the issuer, RFP complexity, lack of due diligence by the issuer and the high/low bidder game.

So, what can companies do to avoid or dramatically improve the quagmire of an RFP process, while retaining the ability to objectively vet and select the most qualified agency partner?

Over the next several weeks, we will dissect the process and it’s inefficiencies as we take a deeper dive into the areas mentioned above. In doing so, we hope to highlight a better, more efficient and custom-tailored path to finding the right agency – at a minimum to provide meaningful insight to improve the RFP process – to meet your current marketing needs and become your long-term agency partner.

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