5 Red Flags During the RFP Process

To those leaders considering an RFP for their next communication project or large event: On behalf of all my colleagues here at CPG, I’m genuinely excited to get to know you and get a better grasp for the engagement challenges that you’re looking to solve. Like any healthy relationship, I think the best way to truly connect is to talk openly and ask meaningful questions of one another. I’m all for this “courting process” because it’s important for both of us to ensure we’re a solid fit for each other. My team and I are passionate about what we do and ready to unleash our ‘CPGness’ by bringing your story to life in awesome ways.

…But Let’s Talk About the RFP Process

In the spirit of open and honest communication, let me explain where most RFP processes do more harm than good. Too often, proposal processes are poorly executed and serve only to commoditize vendor services. And while I understand why companies evaluate this approach (it’s typically a large investment, there are many decision makers involved and due diligence must be taken), I’ll explain how to avoid common missteps in the RFP process and ensure you and your vendor are both set up for success.

5 Red Flags During the RFP Process:

1. You won’t share your budget with us

This signals to me that there may not be a budget at all or you may be trying to define costs. If there’s not a budget at this point, let’s talk when there is one. Or, if you’re in the cost definition phase, that’s ok. I can help you through that. But let’s discuss before you proceed further with the RFP. Without doing so, we’re shooting in the dark. Imagine asking a real estate agent to help you find a new home, but you don’t have the funds or won’t share what you can afford? It just can’t work that way.

2. You won’t give me access to the people who will be using our services

While I certainly value your role and will look for your continued coaching, it’s important that I also connect with other decision makers who own this endeavor and have the best grasp for the challenges that must be addressed. In their own words and with their own emotion, I can assess the proper tools and the right people on my team to engage.  Without this access, I’ve found that our efforts lack relevance and full impact.

3. Your desired response time is too short

I view my team as a cast of creators, designers, curators and storytellers. While I appreciate the need to move swiftly and agree with the need for a deadline, our best work takes time to incubate and fully develop. Are you working with someone already?   In most cases, an abbreviated timeline only benefits your incumbent and one objective of the RFP is a level playing field. Without a realistic timeline, you’ll be zeroing in on the status quo. If that’s the case, why put yourself and your business through this process in the first place?

4. You’re inviting too many folks to the party

Yes, we are not the only engagement and experiential agency in the marketplace. With that said, our work is specialized and even more so when considering vertical and functional expertise. A shotgun approach demonstrates a lack of definition for what needs to be accomplished and the engagement problem that must be solved.

5. You’re controlling the process too tightly 

In an effort to make you and your brand stand out, we are always looking for ways to change the game and reimagine an experience. “In 100 words or less”, or “not to exceed ten pages”, or “in Arial font only”, etc. creates a box around a world of potentially limitless possibilities. If you’re open to alternatives and new approaches, we’re eager to dig in. I value your time and your investment as well as my team members and our work. Together, we have the opportunity to create a long lasting and highly positive partnership. And while partnership is an overused phrase, we really mean it. Let’s collaborate, create and deliver unbelievable new experiences for your people.