Tag Archives: respond

RFPs when the main POC is Purchasing

8 Jul

What does your company do when an RFP shows up at Corporate and the main point of contact is not the business user or decision maker but the purchasing agent?

Here’s the situation one of the Inquisix members found themselves in. They’re new to their company while the inside sales manager is experienced. A prospect sent in an RFP to sales@company.com that nobody expected but inside sales pounced on. With the blessing of the VP of Sales (who manages both inside and outside), the inside team ran with the RFP. This blog posting is not about inside vs outside turf battles as regular readers know I’m a big proponent of inside sales. Rather it is solely about the opportunity costs of responding to RFPs.

RFPs take a lot of energy to answer. Big companies have RFP teams and knowledgebases to facilitate the RFP response. But every RFP is different and the questions not always understood. And small companies don’t have the resources to spend chasing RFPs that (maybe) have no chance of closing. In either case, why expend the energy?

So this company decided the only course of action was to follow the RFP instructions exactly and not talk to any one except the purchasing agent. The field rep protested that this was a waste of time and that any prospect expecting to seriously consider the solution would have the business users engaged. Otherwise, it was simple price shopping against a vendor the user had already picked out. The inside manager felt that going around the purchasing agent was the kiss of death.

What does your company do? Who makes the decision to respond to an RFP when the main POC is purchasing? Do you respond without question? Do you go around the purchasing agent?

My answer – you ask the purchasing agent to schedule a 30 minute call with the business users to review the proposal and clarify all the answers. If the purchasing agent declines then you have very little chance of winning. That leaves your choice of either not responding or only responding to the pricing with a low-ball to hurt your competitor.

What’s your answer?