Competition is fierce when it comes to RFP responses. Software automation goes a long way toward streamlining the process, but there are other things you can do to up your approval odds. Following tried-and-true expert advice will help you avoid common RFP pitfalls and move your response higher on the short list.
Do you want it, and can you win? This may seem overly harsh, but time in any organization is limited. There are only so many RFPs your team will have the bandwidth to answer. Before you jump in, analyze your chances of winning and whether you have the bandwidth to deliver on your promises before you invest the time. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recommends creating an internal “scorecard” to assess and prioritize opportunities, and tools like Lead Scoring can automatically qualify group business leads and analyze performance based on your availability, space, and more. Each organization has a different set of priorities, but make sure your team is on the same page.
36% of event planners said that a bad experience with the booking process would be enough of a reason to switch venues during the RFP process
Scope out the competition
Is there an incumbent for this project? If the answer isn’t obvious, contact the RFP decision-making committee and ask. Some committees will make previous successful RFP responses available to applicants who request them. Even if they don’t, do some research and read up on who you’re trying to replace. What sets your venue apart, and how are you a better fit?
Get in and get out
When you’re reaching out, be prepared to tell decision-makers in 60 seconds or less why your venue is the best solution for their needs. Studies published in the Harvard Business Review have shown RFP decision makers are well researched and short on time. The most successful RFP presentations are ones where representatives clearly and succinctly provide solutions. They recommend using “insight selling” techniques to reveal solutions to problems the customer didn’t even know they had. In Cvent’s 2016 Planner Sourcing Study, 36% of event planners said that a bad experience with the booking process would be enough of a reason to switch venues during the RFP process.
Polish your profile
Everyone does a web search before doing business these days. Is your venue’s website current? Are your marketing materials up-to-date? Are the professional profiles of everyone listed in the RFP current and polished? An HBR survey showed the majority of people research online before making decisions. Make sure they find polished, professional information on your hotel or venue.
Budget time wisely
There’s no such thing as a late RFP. Competition is too tough for you to turn in materials late. Make sure there’s enough time for your team to gather all requested data and go through a couple of revisions before the deadline. In the same Cvent survey, 28% of respondents said that negotiating and researching the venue were their top two most difficult stages in the sourcing process. Hotels and venues with up-to-date profiles and websites, as well as enough time to make informed decisions, will make all the difference.
Follow these tips to make meetings and events as smooth as possible for your team and for the planners you want to attract.