How To Know When To Ignore An RFP

Written by: Will Brooks


You did it!

After all that hard work, careful planning, and well-timed pursuit, your company has managed to get a Request for Proposal from that huge prospective client you’ve been trying to land. This is it! Time to pull out all the stops and dazzle them with your proposal so that they’ll want to do business with you.

Well, maybe not.

Many companies send out RFPs and RFIs to firms they have no intention of working with. Someone in the company has already chosen whom they want to buy from, and the other RFPs are just to go through the motions of exploring options. Your company has no chance of actually winning this client, and putting together a proposal for them is only going to waste your time. How can you be absolutely sure of that, though?

Well…here are 4 tips to show you how to know when to ignore an RFP.

It’s Obviously Built for Your Competition

Hopefully you know a bit about the other companies in your field. You know what they offer and what their strengths are, and how they differ from your offerings and strengths. If, in reading an RFP, it seems to be designed specifically for one of your competitors and what they do, then don’t waste your time on a proposal. You may be tempted to try to trump the competition, but don’t bother. The client has already made up their mind, and they’ve written the RFP to simply reinforce their decision.

There’s No Direct Communication With You Or Your Company

As you work on your proposal, it helps to talk to someone from the prospect’s company face to face, or at least by phone, to get a better idea of the political landscape and what they’re looking for. If they keep blowing you off or refuse to commit to a personal meeting with you, then it’s fairly likely that they’ve already made their decision, and you’re not it.

They’re Not A Good Fit For Your Company

Suspecting that another company has already been chosen isn’t the only reason for ignoring an RFP. The potential client might just be looking for something that you can’t provide for them. If their needs aren’t in alignment with your company and what it’s able to provide, then it’s best not to waste your time going after them. Unless you know you can do a great job and deliver exactly what they’re looking for, you should probably let it go.

The Required Response Time Is Too Quick

A good proposal is long and detailed, letting the potential client know exactly who you are and how you can meet the needs they’ve laid out. Putting it together takes time and effort, if you want to do it right. If a company wants the proposal immediately, and doesn’t leave you the time to do it properly, then it’s likely that sending you that RFP was an afterthought, and they already have the company in mind that they want to work with. If you don’t have the time to create a good, solid proposal that will knock their socks off, then don’t do it. Don’t waste time and energy scrambling to meet an impossible goal, and sacrificing quality in the process.

BONUS: When You’re Surprised When The RFP Shows Up

A key way to know how to ignore an RFP is when you don’t even realize you’ve been in the running for an opportunity.  When this happens, the likelihood of the prospect’s being serious about your organization is slim.  Do yourself a favor.  Do not respond.

Ignoring an RFP can be difficult. Especially if it’s an account you really want to win, you might not want to admit that there’s no chance of actually getting it. You might think you can impress them into changing their minds and choosing your company anyway, but it’s not worth it to waste that much time and effort on what by all accounts is a lost cause. Instead, focus on the RFPs that ARE legitimate, and that you know you can knock out of the park.


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Selling to Procurement: A Win-Win Approach

Procurement’s increased role in the decision-making process can be frustrating to salespeople who don’t fully understand the function of the department, not to mention the personality conflict that can potentially exist between the rep and the procurement professional.

Partnering with Procurement and understanding its’ process, however, will help set your team apart from your competition and improve your results.

Written By

Will Brooks

As the CEO of The Brooks Group, Will draws on his leadership, marketing, sales, sales management, and operational experience to help develop and execute the company’s overall growth strategy. Having been in the human capital development industry his entire career, helping organizations reach their full potential through transformational change is a part of Will’s DNA. By putting his name on every single engagement, Will assumes a personal commitment to the success of every client.

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