Should You Respond to That RFP?

RFPs are costly. As calculated investments, they may have great ROI, but on the whole, they waste resources. Some agencies have gotten to the point where they refuse to participate in the RFP process altogether. On the other end of the spectrum, some agencies get excited just to receive an RFP, submitting each one that comes their way. Which approach is right for you? Probably neither, and definitely not the latter. Despite the drawbacks of the RFP process, it’s unlikely to die anytime soon, and it remains the pathway to doing business with many brands. For most agencies, it makes sense to include some RFPs in their new business generation mix. The question is: what is the smartest way for your agency to approach RFPs? It pays to be picky. A lot of introspection and qualification should go into your evaluation of an RFP opportunity, just to determine if it’s worth your time. If you are unlikely to win it (or worse, if the prospect isn’t a good fit), what is the value in pursuing it? Exercise your right to say “no.” There is a lot of power in rejecting opportunities that are not worth your time; in being selective. Pursuing fewer, better-matched opportunities (instead of more, poorly-vetted ones) will lead to better outcomes. One of the dangers of RFP evaluation is a thing called “hope-ium.” That’s where you gloss over the red flags that tell you not to respond to the RFP because you are singularly focused on what it would mean for your agency to win the business. When you are thinking about how much you want to win the account, you aren’t focused on how likely it is for you to win [...]