Why I Run from RFP's
Only recently have I come to understand why my stomach churns and I politely demur, when I am told that several companies will be bidding on a solution.
An article on Allan Weiss -- known as the consultant's consultant -- helps to point the way. He argues that a client that insists on taking charge of a selling process, and buying primarily on price is making a grave error. Click here for the article.
Also, Jeff Thull who wrote the recently release "Exceptional Selling" argues that winning an RFP is akin to winning the lottery, and is overly focused on the customer's buying process rather than their decision process.
I agree with them both.
If I were about to have surgery, or hire a lawyer to represent me in a death penalty case in which I am the defendant, I would not think of creating an RFP.
The stakes are just too high for the decision to be made in this manner.
In like manner, an important consulting engagement cannot be reduced to simple to understand decision criteria, and the more important the stakes, the more complex the solution, and the less amenable it is to simple categories of comparison.
Given that my firm specializes in high-stake interventions, the presence of an RFP is an indicator that this job is probably not for me.
The only exception I might make could be companies or governments that are restricted from doing business any other way by law. The same principles would apply however, and it's not too hard to see where management treats the RFP as a smokescreen, rather than a necessary evil to be endured.