Sales Success: Write the RFP

October 11th, 2009 by

By Pat Hinds

Recently I was supporting a sales rep with his vertical selling campaign and we made a call on a new prospect. The prospect had been given the task to write a Work Place Policy (WPP) and the topic that he was writing about was out of his comfort zone. At this stage, the prospect was calling in multiple vendors his company had a relationship with in order to gather information on the topic; ultimately, this would allow him to complete the policy paper. The WPP that he is to complete would be the minimum standard that the operating division within his company will have to adhere too. My observation of the meeting with the customer is that this is a classic opportunity for a partner to help write the work place policy; when I worked a Xerox we would call the “write the RFP”.

I did a debrief with the sales rep after the call and presented the idea of “witting the RFP”. The fact this was a new concept to the sales rep was a surprise to me as I thought this sales tactic was as common as cold calling. Witting the RFP is essentially doing the heavy lifting in writing a document like a Request for Proposal or Work Place Policy on behalf of the customer creating an opportunity for you, the partner, to position a feature of your product or service in the document that will allow you to have an advantage when the customer makes the decision to implement the RFP or Work Place Policy.

If you want to learn how to help your customer write an RFP or WWP you need to understand the structure of the document so you can present your information in a format that will allow the data to be easily integrated (cut & paste) into the final document. Listed below are some headings I took from an RFP that I received a few years ago to help provide guidance on what information you need to offer if you want to be included in the RFP or WPP process.


1. Scope of work
2. Potential users and applications
3. Existing Infrastructure
4. Commissioning, support, training and documentation
5. Pricing and Product Specification

In an RFP and WPP these topics are weighted by importance to the success of the project; a weight scale may look like the following:

Criteria                                        Weight            Mandatory Criteria
A Total cost of ownership             50                    No
B Added Value                                8                     No
C Performance in environment       8                     Yes
D Technology                                15                    No
E System integration                      20                   No
F Scalability & Open Architecture   30                  No
G Commission/support/doc          20                  No
H References                                  10                  Yes
I Qualifications and experience      20                  Yes
J Project Management                     5                    No
K Local Support                              5                    No

The goal is to identify an area in the “specifications” that you can differentiate your product/service from your competitors and make sure the weighting has enough value allowing you to win the deal.

Topics: Sales Consulting