Just like there are a few simple things that can stop you from winning the business (See Gone with the RFP), there are a few that will ensure you are part of the down-selection process to be excluded from RFI to RFP and On-site pitches. Which may leave you scratching your head, where did I go wrong so early on? Well, Great balls of fire – It’s Ms. Category Management to the rescue! So let’s sit down again Scarlett and review the most common mistakes.
- Not being on time/submitting by deadlines
- Missing information / not fully answering to questions
- Not submitting in the right formatting – excel or word
- You suggest an alternative product than what we’ve requested (or in addition to)
- Your pricing is sky high / not aligned with competitors
- Lying. About anything.
Now that we’ve navigated our way out of the city fire, let’s focus on getting home and into the final stages of the RFP. There are still lots of obstacles, but we can get there if we try. Here are some of the most reckless mistakes I’ve seen suppliers make to exclude themselves out of the next round.
Bad-Mouthing Your Competition
It’s not even shocking to me anymore. But it does make my eyes want to roll directly into the back of my head. What do you really expect to happen? Do you think I will jump up and exclude them from the RFP process? Should I be flattered you are giving me such insight? I don’t care if this is part of the original Hatfield-McCoy feud, it’s completely irrelevant.
So leave the catty comments for the Sorority girls, or put your participation in the RFP at risk. There’s nothing more juvenile and unprofessional then speaking negatively about your competition. And it only makes YOU look bad.
Leaving Your Ego Unchecked
Now let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. You not only think, but know your product is superior. Or maybe you know you are the company’s top salesman/woman. Your ego is measured in square miles and you’re acting like a jerk.
I’ve had suppliers cut me off mid-sentence or speak over me. I’ve been outright ignored. I’ve even been mansplained too. The entire tone of the conversation is condescending. But unless you’ve cured cancer – check your ego. Otherwise, you too will risk RFP going right to the bottom of the pile.
Breaking the Rules
These are not suggestions despite what you think. Don’t call up your old buddy in the department or “accidentally” email the business partner if there is one point of contact for the RFP. *ahem* Or try to get an extra call with the business partner or myself to ask more questions/follow-up with a demo.
You may not be outright breaking the rules, but you sure as hell aren’t following them. So why would we want to have you as a business partner, if you clearly aren’t listening to us? We won’t. So to the bottom of the list you go!
Especially when you try to trick me into it. I recently ran an RFP where I decided to be lenient on the rules due to the speed of the request. I was okay with a couple of extra phone calls for questions. What I did not appreciate was after answering the questions, the 15-20 minutes of a demo I had to endure for the second or third time.
Don’t find yourself in a world that is worse than death. One where you are out in the cold not being able to make it to the final round of an RFP. Instead, follow the rules, be humble and don’t mention the competition.