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How to Nail the RFP Process

Request for Proposal and RFP ProcessI have been a member of the relocation community for almost two decades and have worked in a business development capacity for nearly three-fourths of the time. Throughout my career, I have been directly, or indirectly, involved in almost every type of sales scenario you can imagine – mostly very pleasant experiences, a few that were not-so-pleasant, some that made me wince and some that made me want to scratch my head.

While each of these scenarios makes for lively cocktail banter, it’s the latter group that I would like to address – the sales scenarios that make you go, “hmmmm.”

When I receive an RFP, I’m excited and hopeful that there will be good direction and fascinating problems to solve. Typically after the first few pages, however, I find myself disappointed – and wishing I could have been at the table when the issuing team mapped out the proposal. This is not to say that RFPs are always bad, but most do lack direction and focus. And they are usually very similar, which begs the question: if they are all the same, how is the company going to find their best match, financially and culturally?

As a consultant, I always want to be involved from the get-go to ensure the RFP is asking the right questions, to the right people, for the betterment of the company. Below are some steps to make the RFP more efficient and focused.  The more targeted the RFP, the easier it will be to find the relocation company that’s right for your business:

Determine where the company is going. Before crafting any proposal, it’s critical to think about where you are going. What is the purpose for your relocation program? What are the business goals? If you map out three – five relocation needs for your business based on the population that you are moving, budget parameters, cultural considerations and any unique challenges then you can start to identify your “must-haves” in a relocation partner. For example, if your biggest concern is transferees facing a negative equity situation, then you want to find a partner with proven track record on housing.

Narrow in on some targets. If you craft a blanket RFP and send it to 10 companies, what are you really accomplishing besides more paperwork, meetings and reading material? Once you know what your relocation program is going to require, and what you are looking for in a partner, do some research to hone in on 3-4 relocation companies that might be a good match. Not only will you save time and money this way, but the responses will be more valuable because you’ve already pre-qualified the group.

Craft the RFP. Once you decide on goals for your relocation program, based on past performance, peer research, budget and company culture, you are ready to craft your RFP. For each question you add to the proposal, ask yourself if it directly correlates to the overall goals for your program. For example, if one of your goals is to improve repatriation retention, ask questions that will not only tap into each company’s experience and knowledge in the area, but will also challenge them to think of new solutions for you. Remember, relocation companies see it all. Give them an opportunity to share their vast knowledge on the issues that matter for you. Alternatively, if your program will not offer a household goods component, avoid adding clutter by leaving that question out.

Use Your Face to Face Time Efficiently. We’ve all been there. You know, that great meeting where it goes beyond general information and gets into real problem solving. These are the meetings where you leave feeling high because you met amazing people and really accomplished something meaningful for your business. These are the meetings you should be having at this stage in the process. Much like the RFP, pick a few pertinent issues and try to hammer out solutions with your prospective partner. This is the best way to assess how you will work together and what they can bring to the table for the betterment of your team and program.

I think that other companies will agree with me when I say – help us, help you.  Dive into our extensive pool of resources. Give us the opportunity to serve as your expert problem-solvers, your think-tank for your mobility issues – large and small. If we end up partnering together, that’s fantastic. If not, then at the very least we had a productive meeting that brought you one step closer to finding your match.

 

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MIKE CANNING
VP, Client Services

RICK CALANNI
VP of Business Development Northeast Region

 

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