What’s the greatest challenge to selling value? Many sales teams put the blame on RFPs.
And no wonder – RFPs are designed, not to uncover value, but to level the playing field and squeeze the lowest possible price out of suppliers. They do this by binding sellers to a set of rules specifying the format and font suppliers must use in their responses, the information that must be included, the deadline and, most frustrating for value sellers, a prohibition on additional research. “The rules were created for value companies to lose,” laments Dan Kosch, cofounder of Impax.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that rules are made to be broken, and RFP rules are no exception – as long as you know how to do it right. Kosch and Impax copresident Mark Shonka detail four strategies value sellers can use to fight back against the constraints of the RFP and win the sale on value:
When one sales rep worried about doing this since the RFP expressly forbade it, his manager replied, “I’ll pay you either way; go ahead and challenge it.” So the rep called an executive and explained that he would like to reply to the RFP, because it looked like there was a good fit, but he needed to do some research. The executive agreed that this made sense. When the rep stated that the RFP forbade additional research, the issuing company’s exec said, “What? Let me see that thing. Who wrote this? Do what you need to do.” The rep wound up getting some great insight that led to a winning response.
The key to success in handling RFPs, conclude Shonka and Kosch, is to deal with procurement in a way that’s different from what’s expected. You may think you’re boosting your chances of success by toeing the line the department’s drawn, but all you’re really doing is getting lost in the crowd. Instead, sell to procurement; involve the team members in your process, treat them like businesspeople – or avoid them completely. By being different, you’ll stand out – and boost your chances of winning the sale.
For more information, visit www.impaxcorp.com.