Strategy #3: Reimaging the Request for Proposal (RFP)
Traditionally, the RFP has been an overly complex and time-consuming process especially when applied to the SMB market. One of the major challenges centers around the solicitation of bids from qualified vendors. The smaller, more niche providers are not equipped with dedicated staff to handle RFPs, so they must be selective with whom they choose to respond. If they receive the RFP during a busy period, they may choose to pass simply based on a lack of bandwidth.
For those vendors that do respond, many of them have developed content ahead of time that is repurposed for each new RFP. This often results in templated answers that might cover topics extending beyond the question being asked. Furthermore, clients are left poring through these complex answers that are difficult to compare between various solutions.
Based on these challenges, there is an opportunity to create a more efficient and streamlined approach without sacrificing quality.
The gathering of information is a critical component of writing an effective RFP. This is an opportunity to provide a clear and concise summary of your business including company overview, project overview, goals, criteria for success, and key stakeholders. The more information you provide upfront, the more efficiency you will create. Be sure to include documentation of your existing architecture so the vendors understand your current environment and the direction you intend to go. In case you missed it, we publish our recommendations for this process in an earlier article: Invest in a Requirements Analysis
Another useful hack is to mitigate content complexity by minimizing open-ended questions. Clearest Blue highly recommends using a Yes/No style of questioning with an opportunity to add comments. By using the points defined in your Requirements Analysis, you can quickly build a chart to identify if the solution will fulfill each need by asking yes or no and with an opportunity to add a comment for further context. These objective answers will produce more digestible and meaningful content that is easily transferred to a table when comparing each solution.
Finally, consider a pivot from an RFP to an RFI. By saving the financial conversation for a later date, you provide your team with an opportunity to solely focus on the solutions that best meet your requirements. In general, CCaaS solutions are relatively comparable in cost. When you solicit pricing upfront, some vendors will provide deep discounts to catch your attention, while others provide list prices that can be significantly reduced once the vendor is fully engaged.
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