Are you in the proposal writing business? I didn't think you were making money writing proposals.
If not, then you shouldn’t be answering RFPs.
RFPs, or Request for Proposals, is something as a freelancer or consultant you should stay away from. An RFP is a document that talks about a project and asks you to write a proposal on how to solve it.
In the previous two episodes you learned to protect your sales process, and ultimately your business, by only pushing value buyers and those that give you a firm “yes” at the end of the sales call to the proposal stage.
RFPs are the complete opposite of this.
In short, responding to an RFP, have you reading through a document explaining the project from the perspective of the company and then drafting up a proposal with your time estimates, milestones, due dates, company history, and questions you have to bid on the project.
Then that company shows all the responses and selects what they feel is the best option.
If you are responding to RFPs, this is the epitome of the proposal writing business.
If a buyer presents to you an RFP, full stop. Protect your time! Protect your profits!
Simply say “Before we get into this - It’s not your policy to do speculative work.”
Because that’s what an RFP is, speculative.
You are speculating on the project based on what is in that document. You have no customer input, surveys, data or your own research to help you build a proper solution to the problem.
How to speak with a lead that insists on responding to an RFP?
Ask them if they are a gambler?
“How important is this project to you?”
“What is it worth to you to solve the problem?”
These are appropriate questions to ask the lead that insists on the RFP process.
The lead has to be a gambler, otherwise, they wouldn’t be hanging themselves out there asking companies to build and present solutions without any conversations and research into the problem, for free.
These 2 questions, refocuses the conversation you are having for the lead to get clarity around the project and what they are asking you to do.
You can further pursue it by elegantly and tactfully asking if the other companies pitching:
- Have these companies interviewed customers
- Have these companies interviewed sales to see what the challenges are
“Chances are that you are going to say no. And since you are asking people for free work, they are just going to come up with answers on their own. They might hit it, but they might not. That’s why I asked if you are a gambler or not.”
Explain why you do what you do
Take some time and explain why your process is important to them and solving their specific problem.
This is where that clarity can hit them like a ton of bricks. Because here you can emphasize that you can give them a cookie cutter solution, but what happens when that doesn’t work.
They will have to then go back to whoever approved the bid and backtrack.
Explain to them that without your process, what they are asking is for companies to answer from a 1000 miles away, not an inch close and from all angles.
The best thing that they are going to come up with is superficial because that’s how deep they are able to go. There are no reference points to what is going to be the most effective solution to help them get sales, build a brand, code an application, etc.
The lead and committee are making a decision purely on a gut feeling without a true understanding of what’s going to work.
This is where you share the things you need to understand what the key metrics and goals for success are.
What are the trigger points for the customers to buy-in?
That the only way to know is to talk with you, your team, and potential customers.
Then it’s a matter of summing up and echoing back everything the lead said to you and leave them thinking about their process.
“So as much as you would like to work with them on this $X project, I can’t from this point of view. I can’t tell you with confidence it would work.”
Then sit in that silence.
In this short statement, you echo back what they say it’s worth it to them to solve this problem.
You are also planting the seed that if the other companies are not asking these things, then maybe they aren’t as good as they say they are.
Keep in mind, you are not in the business to write proposals. You are in the business to solve problems successfully for your clients and in turn make money and profits from that.
Running your freelance business
More episodes in this topic:
What do you do when a crisis hits?
How to start building an email list as a freelancer?
How do you manage time wearing so many hats as a freelancer?
What software tools do you use for business? What is best?
How do you prevent, manage scope creep in your projects?
Do you schedule in time for exploring or reading articles online?
What is the best way to get income fast?
What happens if you can’t define a scope of work on a call?
What do I do first thing Monday morning?
How can I focus on my business when I’ve got a ton client work?
Do I have to be concerned with GDPR?
What are the tools and services that you use and would recommend to freelancers?
How do you have time for all that you do?
What podcasting gear do I use?
Does live chat bring you in business?
How do you followup with a lead after a proposal?
Did hiring a mentor really help you with starting up your business or your career?
What is my writing process
What is the easiest way to get a remote testimonial?
How do you determine a quality prospect?
How do you step away and actually take a vacation?
Are job boards reliable?
How to decrease the sales cycle or time to close?
How would you write a cold outreach email?
How to present different services that could potentially diminish your abilities in the minds of clients?
Should I bundle projects for clients or keep projects separate per client?
What product do you use for your business that you can’t live without?
What makes you stand out from other freelancers?
Do I drop this client?
How do I set a goal?
Do you meet leads and clients face-to-face?
How do I work “ON” my business and not “IN” my business?
What is the best structure for setting a goal?
How do you do a review of your week?
What do I say when a potential client says I’m too expensive?
What is activity based selling?
How to get more clients?
How to have a productive week?
Do you use a CRM for your business?
How do you choose the technology for your clients?
What is the structure of a weekly review?
What is the structure of a monthly review?
What are lead generation techniques to get me out of the feast and famine revenue cycle?
How do I know if I should buy a course?
What’s a polite way to tell existing clients you are raising your rates? And what is a reasonable percentage to go up?
How many email follow-ups should I send to a lead?
What do I do? I’m afraid to filter the tire kickers coming into my business because they are the only leads I have.
How to take the next step from contracting resource to solo business owner?
What do you think about Gutenberg? Schmutenberg!
How do I get better at sales?
How to overcome objections in sales?
How do I respond to an RFP?
How to respond to “I don’t need strategy, can you just do…”?
If you don’t have experience, how to you prove the quality without the education/experience?
How do you handle a client that has ghosted?
What do you ask during a sales call?
How to improve your sales process as a freelancer?
How to charge more as a freelancer?
How do you push past the imposter syndrome?
How do you segment your email list?
What to say when a client insists on adding something new?
What kind of content should I promote to potential clients?
Best of Season 3 - Get out of the comfort zone
Best of Season 3 - Building Relationships
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty
S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach