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Don’t Respond To Every RFP

Posted in Prospecting for Clients

Having just done a post on how to respond to request for proposals (RFP) by demonstrating your expertise, I quickly want to add that you shouldn’t respond to every RFP that comes your way. If only I had a nickel (okay, maybe a buck) for every proposal that I’ve been involved with that was a waste of time, and only were submitted at the insistence of the lawyer involved, I’d be a wealthy man.
Some RFPs are a not worth responding to because:
*They are pre-wired,
*Time consuming and costly to prepare with little chance of winning,
*The return on investment (ROI) is not worth it, and
*Not the type of work your firm ought to be wasting its time with.
I was reminded of this advice after reading Mike McLaughlin’s post on “Resisting the RFP” over at Guerrilla Consulting. Mike suggests a couple of basic questions (that lead to additional ones) you should ask yourself before leaping into preparing a proposal. They are:
*Why Me? – Do you have an existing relationship with requestor? Why did they seek you out for a proposal? If there is no prior relationship, chances are not the greatest of winning, according to Mike; and I agree.
*What Will It Cost? – to prepare a response, and what is the likely ROI? And who are the decision makers? If one or more layers removed, add even more cost to the procurement process.
If you still think that responding to a given RFP is a worthwhile legal marketing effort, then he and I suggest you do it right by:
*Working with the prospective client, whenever possible, to craft your response,
*Complying with every request in the RFP,
*Customizing your response (forget the boilerplate junk from your brochure), and
*Demonstrating your expertise as part of your response (again, see my last post ).
Oh, one more thought. If it’s a government RFP, run – don’t walk – to your accountant’s office and beg his forgiveness in advance. Okay, I’m not totally serious on this one, but they are mostly dollar driven, very costly to respond to, too often politically wired, and just not worth the effort. But heck, don’t take my word for it; beat yourself up a few times, your accountant will forgive you.

  • http://www.GuerrillaConsulting.com Mike McLaughlin

    Tom,
    I laughed so hard when I read your advice about what to do when responding to a government RFP. Too true, I guess. Keep up the great work.
    Cheers
    Mike

  • http://www.confluentforms.com David Kutcher

    I agree, be selective! Head over to the RFP Database (http://www.rfpdb.com); lots of RFPs uploaded daily and you can trade in those ugly RFPs to get new ones!