As a sales professional, with almost 30 years “under my belt”, I know that intellectually and maybe even spiritually, I am supposed to be, “grateful and excited to have been afforded the opportunity to respond” (as I write in just about all of my cover letters)
Please allow me to channel my inner Jerry Maguire, and share with you, dear blog reader, what I wish I could write, just once…..
To whom it may concern;
How did our pricing look? We both know you turned immediately to the last page, bottom line, before reading this cover letter. We both also know that there is a high percentage (like 90 something) chance that you and your team had selected the product you want to go with before you even began the RFP process. By the way, if it was my company, please stop reading now. You already have the info you wanted: pricing, which you know I inflated so as to leave room for your procurement team to “beat me up” for the 10% savings (minimally) that they have to report to stay out of Dutch with the CFO.
To the technical team: apologies if you find our response confusing. Once the RFP process officially started, my team was forbidden to contact you. Heaven knows you might have done something un-ethical, like explain to us what you are actually hoping to do with our product.
To everyone else who may get a look at this, when did the vendor become your enemy and why do you punish us with this silly process?
Providing you with detailed, technical information and familiarizing you with our corporate culture and internal processes makes sense.
Asking for 3 years, audited financials so that you can “access the financial stability” of my company is ridiculous. First of all, if we win this thing, WE extend credit to YOU! I should be checking your books, except I bet that the vendors for Enron and Lehman Brothers would not have been well served by such diligence.
Trade references? Really? You are going to get my 3-5 BEST CUSTOMERS………………..let’s guess what they are going to tell you……………..
How about setting up a proof of concept in YOUR data center, to actually test how my product would work for you in YOUR environment. In the process, you would also get the opportunity to meet our team, observe how they work and respond to problems as they arise, real time.
My company will not charge you for this process. Know why? 3 reasons
1) we believe that we are the best
2) we ARE financially viable
3 ) it will probably cost us LESS than putting together an RFP response
Back to those best customers of mine, I did not win their business by responding to an RFP. Not that they don’t go to RFP on my product every once in a while “to keep me honest” or to see what is new in the market, or, (gasp) to keep some nice people busy between projects.
It’s just that my team has done a terrific job of earning their trust and building relationships. Not at fancy lunches or dinners or on the golf course, in their data centers and in their project meetings and over cups of stale coffee, late at night, after burning the proverbial midnight oil to solve a problem.
What if I told you that there is solid research supporting the fact that most companies spend more money on the RFP process than they save on the product they finally select? What if I told you that if I did not have to carry the burden of RFP responses in my cost of sales, I could cut my margins and reduce the price of my product?
You might say that I am just a dumb sales guy who is grumpy and maybe getting too old and lazy to respond to RFPs………..
Though it has not been my intent to offend, you may in fact be so offended that you are moved to discard this response and never again send one to my company.
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