Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lisa Rehurek on How to Do Better in Business and Win More with RFPs

In this interview, Lisa Rehurek talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by, about her book, The RFP Success Book.

“Don’t try to do it all by yourself.” ~Lisa Rehurek

RFPs are Requests for Proposals, which are issued by organizations such as large corporations or the government, who look for contractors or vendors who can supply the needs of that organization. RFPs can be as short as a few pages or, particularly in the case of the United States federal government, can run into thousands of pages. The responding businesses need to submit their requirements and experience and solutions for the proposal seeker to then see how good the fit is with their needs.

Because of the occasionally detailed RFPs issued, Lisa’s present business is to aid small businesses, which would most likely not have the necessary manpower or competency to respond accurately to RFPs, do just that. The RFP Success Book was born out of Lisa’s realization that she kept on repeating the same themes over and over again with her clients and in her blogs, and as such it would probably be best to put all of these themes into a book for all and sundry to read and learn from.

Lisa notes that, in addition to the technical requirements and specifications, RFPs can also include such requirements at legal, insurance, price points, deadline for submission and even if the response needs to be printed on recycled paper and what the specific margins and font of the reply should be in. While big companies have an in-house RFP team which works solely on analyzing RFPs, small companies - who may receive only six to ten RFPs a year - don’t have such personnel and are likely will not have the competency to do so, as these small companies are likely to be staffed by people who are dedicated to the company’s core business.

Lisa points out that successfully responding to RFPs is important for businesses, particularly if the contracts are worth millions of dollars and can last years. She notes that those submitting proposals should meet the requirements and understand what the evaluation criteria are, and also remarks that one of the top mistakes that businesses responding to RFPs make is not answering the question that is asked for, such as giving a ten-page answer on their company’s history rather than explaining their methodology to complete a particular task. Lisa also remarks that the businesses responding to RFPs should take particular note of multi-tiered questions, such as asking for different kinds of pricing and then providing the details to these.

Lisa notes that businesses should take note of what the client needs and wants. She also notes that responders should remember that, at the end of the day, it will be a person who will be reading the RFP response, so it should appeal and maintain that person’s interest accordingly as well as ensuring that the proper solution can be provided. Based on her experience, Lisa remarks that around ten percent of all RFPs are rejected outright, and that around half fail to impress with the proper solution. Getting an RFP rejection does have an impact on a business, she notes, as a lot of time and effort would have gone into answering the RFP, which could be torpedoed by one, single mistake.

Businesses should also be aware that an RFP is also essentially a sales and marketing call, and that standing out from a bunch of other RFP responses will increase one’s chances of successfully getting the contract concerned, according to Lisa. It is thus important that companies be able to translate their technical speak into something the RFP evaluator can understand, as the latter might not have the same level of technical expertise as those responding to the RFP may have.

Businesses, particularly those who get RFPs from the government, may have to play a waiting game, as their potential clients may take months before finishing evaluating the RFP responses they get, and this does have a potential impact on a business, where staff and resources are concerned, as these might not be sufficient to cover all of the contracts awarded. Management of RFPs is thus a vital part of a company’s business.

To those who would respond to RFPs, Lisa would say to really pay attention to answering the question as it was asked, and then to be as simple and as succinct as possible in their reply, as a business has only two or three seconds to appeal to, and attract the attention of, the one reading the reply. She also advises that businesses not get intimidated by the RFPs they receive, and to get help from others to successfully respond to these.

Purchase from Amazon: The RFP Success Book by Lisa Rehurek