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Sales Training Vendors and RFPs

Among other things, we work with companies in facilitating an understanding of their own sales Sales Training Vendor RFPperformance improvement requirements as well as guiding them through the sales training vendor selection process where appropriate.  

One client of ours issued RFPs to a long list of six sales training vendors.  The RFP included significant sales process work, sales training and some sales enablement technology.  In the introduction to the RFP, our client stated that (1) no vendor had been involved in the creation of the RFP (in fact, ESR wrote it), nor (2) had the company spoken with any vendor.  In addition, the company stated that (3) from their perspective every vendor had an equal opportunity to win their business.  The company also assured the vendors to whom the RFP was sent that (4) this was a real opportunity, (5) there was a budget and (6) the CEO had committed to go forward according to the dates put forth in the RFP.  I personally sent emails to the CEOs of those six companies in advance of them receiving the RFP explaining those points and assuring them that (7) everything the client represented was fact.  Several of the training companies balked, saying they didn’t respond to blind RFPs, although I can’t see why, taking into account that degree of explanation. My team at ESR discussed this situation.  We feel strongly that the vendors that aren’t willing to respond in a situation like this are behind the curve adapting their own selling process to a legitimate customer buying process—in this case, the buying process of ESR’s client. Isn’t aligning your selling methodology with your customers’ buying methodologies a critical success factor in most sales performance improvement initiatives?

Of the vendors that did respond, three were selected for the short list.  It became clear right away that one vendor was ahead of the other two with respect to meeting the client’s requirements.  That vendor was selected and the engagement is now underway.

It has been pointed out to me that in the past I’ve been very vocal about salespeople not responding to blind RFPs without being granted access to the business owner of a project or initiative. That’s absolutely correct.  I still am, but this situation is very different.




3 Responses

  1. While I don’t fully agree with your point about not responding to blind RFPs (we’ve won a few that way), it’s true that the win percentage is higher when you have an existing relationship in place (no real surprise there). But, if you’re interested in exchanging some of those blind RFPs you’ve found for what might be juicier projects, check out the Request for Proposals Database at http://www.rfpdb.com

    You won’t be disappointed!

  2. Dave,
    This is a terrific topic and I think you uncovered a key problem with winning business in a complex sale. Most sales people do not respond to blind RFPs because they know that the majority of the time the potential customer did not write it. It was written by a 3rd party with an agenda or even one of the potential suppliers themselves. Selling IT gear to the Fed Govt for 15 years taught me that to win business you must write your own destiny.

    I once responded as the fifth entry in a blind RFP solicitation for some high-end IT equipment (roughly $1M in value). I checked out the document properties and saw that it had taken over 100 hours of editing to create it; someone spent quality time creating it. It made me want to respond even more.

    I emailed the RFP coordinator and said I would put time and effort into it BUT I would require 2 hours to present it in person with the decision makers; they accepted (I would have simply “no bid” if they had not agreed).

    I ended up winning it because I put thought and analysis into my response and my first “bid” was 3 times higher than the next lower one. It shocked the customer so much that they scaled back their requirements and I won the business.

    This is a terrific topic but it takes thought and effort; not typically found much these days.

    I enjoyed it.

  3. Thanks, Dale for taking the time to relate that story to us. Good selling!

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