Don’t respond to an RFP unless you can have a conversation and get your questions answered. That’s the simple advice from Chip Griffin and Gini Dietrich in this Agency Leadership Podcast episode.
The co-hosts build on a conversation started on LinkedIn by Parry Headrick of Crackle PR who explained that his agency turned down an RFP because they couldn’t get an answer to the question of how many other agencies had been invited to participate.
It was a simple question and should have generated a simple answer. When one wasn’t forthcoming, Crackle PR declined to respond. That was the right step.
Chip and Gini took it a step further and suggested that you need to be able to have a real conversation with real human beings — ideally before the RFP is released, but certainly before you begin to invest in a response.
Many agencies don’t realize just how much it is costing them to respond to RFPs because they don’t accurately track their own time investments. If you take a lot of time to thoughtfully respond to 10 RFP’s and only win one of them, then you need to subtract the cost of responding to all 10 of those RFP’s from whatever profit you think you’re making on that contract you won.
While Chip and Gini don’t believe you should always say no to every RFP, you should look at them skeptically and with a real understanding of the likelihood of success (and the cost of doing so).
Finally, agency owners will be able to hear some advice on how to handle RFP processes when they are the incumbent, as well as some discussion of how to see an overall improvement in the climate of agency-client relationships.