Committees & RFPs

In business-to-business sales, major initiatives may involve a committee that is formed to make the decision. The buying process generally revolves around a specifications/requirements document called a “Request for Proposal” (RFP) which is sent to the vendors to solicit their responses. RFPs are also known as “Request for Quote” (RFQ) or “Request for Information” (RFI).

The “Rigged” RFP / Committee Process

The dirty little secret is that some of the time, the committee/RFP process is a rigged game in that the winner has been predetermined by the executive role and the process is manipulated to generate the pre-conceived result.

You are probably asking yourself; “Why would an executive form a committee if they have already made the decision?” The answer is for political reasons. Having a committee involved with the decision provides:

1. Consensus and buy-in

2. Cover in case things don’t go well

The second question you may be asking is “Why issue an RFP if you already know who you are going to select?” The answer to this question is for political/legal reasons:

1. The law or company policy requires the company to get “3 bids”

2. The RFP provides cover if the decision process is questioned later

The Fair RFP / Committee Process

The RFP process is fair when the prospect has very little knowledge regarding the category of products/services under consideration. In this case, they are seeking to gain in-depth knowledge and insights into how the product will fit in their environment. Under these circumstances, there is no pre-conceived winner and the process will give everyone a fair shot at least at the beginning.

If they are truly seeking knowledge and insight, it is in their best interest to initially talk with every vendor that responds. As they begin to zero in on their selection, they will continue to talk to that vendor to make sure that they eventually win the business.

The Key Indicator

If they have a pre-selected vendor, they won’t want to waste time speaking with all of the other vendors that respond to the RFP. Instead, they will hold a “bidder’s conference” where they can combine these meetings into one while maintaining the allusion of fairness.

The key indicator for a salesperson is if they are continuing to have substantive discussions with you. If not, you have already lost. Make no mistake about it, they’re talking to somebody. And that somebody will be the winner.

To learn more about the roles of salespeople or for information on the Samuari Business Group Sales Mastery Training and Sales Management Mastery Training programs, contact us today at (312) 863-8580.