As Sam walks out of the third meeting with Sharon Wilson, he is feeling great about the potential to win the account. Sharon loves what Sam’s company offers and how it delivers its solutions. She sees it as superior to what she presently has and is excited about working with his company.
The next day, Sam receives the call every salesperson dreads as Sharon shares the infamous three letters…RFP. “I’ve done some internal checking and found out that we have to go through an RFP (Request for Proposal) to make a supplier change.”
Upon hearing the RFP news, Sam is about to make the mistake that 99.9999% of salespeople make. He responds, “Okay, I will wait for it to arrive.”
Sam missed out on an opportunity to differentiate himself with this buyer. In most cases, buyers do not have the expertise to select the right supplier for their needs. They often think they do, but that is not always the case. Suppliers, however, do possess that expertise and fail to help their buyer in the process.
By not offering their expertise and guidance, suppliers miss out on an opportunity to differentiate themselves in a process intended to commoditize them. The way that suppliers can share that expertise is through the development of an RFP template.
As a sales differentiation strategy, create an RFP template that can be used by buyers to solicit responses from potential suppliers. Give it a professional look and feel so all the supplier needs to do is put their contact information on it. Be sure to include questions in the RFP template that highlight your differentiators.
Coming back to the call Sam received from Sharon. What if, rather than agreeing to wait for the document to arrive, Sam said, “Thank you for sharing that with me. We recognize how difficult and time consuming it can be to develop an RFP so we put together a template you can use. Would you like me to email it to you?”
By offering the Request for Proposal template, there are five wonderful sales benefits:
1. The RFP process will be shorter as the buyer doesn’t have to develop the RFP from scratch.
2. The likelihood that the issued RFP scope and the needs the salesperson identified during the meetings with the buyer significantly increase.
3. Your buyer sees the salesperson as helpful, a key differentiator, which reinforces the impression made earlier to intrigue him.
4. The salesperson (and the supplier) demonstrated expertise in this arena, another important differentiator, which is heavily influential in buyer decision-making.
5. The company’s differentiators are positioned in the questions which a procurement-written RFP may omit.
Some buyers will use the template exactly as provided to them. Over the years, I’ve had some buyers send out the template without even updating the footer where it says, “Insert your company name here.”
Other buyers may still develop their own RFP, but pull questions from your template. Whether they use your tool or not, strategic steps have been taken to differentiate in a process designed to commoditize you.
Download my free sales differentiation strategy poster “Making Differentiators Matter” to learn how to effectively position differentiators with buyers.