Why RFPs: Face to Face Matters

In your mind’s eye, picture the following scenario. You are a hiring manager about to begin recruiting candidates for a pivotal position on your marketing team.  You begin the process by disseminating a call for applicants that includes strict submission guidelines.

Each applicant resume must be submitted by a hard date and time and has to be accompanied by a prescribed detail of qualifications along with salary requirements. Any submission that deviates from the published guideline, contain errors, is received after the deadline or exceeds salary range will immediately be disqualified.

Next, you the review all candidate submissions that have made it through your rigorous gate-keeping procedures and allow candidates to email a single round of questions, the answers to which you publish in one group email.

You then schedule one face-to-face meeting or teleconference with each of the remaining qualified applicants and run references checks on your list of finalists.

Finally, and without further interaction with any of the candidates, you make your hiring decision.

Congratulations! You have just hired a key employee using the standard RFP process. But, would you really do that? Would any company do that?

Of course not! After all you are potentially hiring a valuable employee who may become an immediate key contributor to your team.  Further, prior to hiring any candidate, you want to take as much time as is needed to ensure that he or she is qualified not only in terms of ability, experience and salary range, but also in personality, temperament and character as well as being a fit for your company’s culture.

So why do companies continue to embrace a partner selection process that is almost completely void of human contact? Is a single Q&A conference call and one face-to-face presentation really enough interaction to get to know a potential new partner?

We think the answer is clearly, “no.” But inherent to today’s common RFP practices is a lack of time to explore the human side of a potential partner relationship.

Think about this, you might be entering into a contract with a marketing partner who can either make or break your future digital initiatives. Beyond their quantitative qualifications, don’t you want to take the time to understand the qualitative traits of your future agency resource?

Perhaps it’s time to shake the RFP process up a bit. It would make a whole lot more sense if the human resources hiring process was applied to the RFP selection process. WOW! Now there’s an idea!

As constructed today, the RFP process is cold and sterile. You might as well conduct it in a hermetically sealed clean room where everyone is clad in protective suits and helmets and all communication comes via radio transmission or hand signals.

Granted, the standard RFP requirements around price, experience, case studies and solution recommendations all play vital roles in the process, but setting aside time to really get to know your potential new partner is also a critical, yet missing component.

We believe there is a more human-centric approach to this aspect of the RFP process that still protects and maintains objectivity.

Face time is important – for both sides. Without making a worthwhile time investment to understand your potential new partner from all angles– and visa versa – the relationship, such as it is, may never develop and your future initiatives may never get off the ground.

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