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15 Questions to Ask Before Your Agency Responds to an RFP

Posted by Mark Duval on Nov 18, 2015, 6:30:00 AM
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A key player in the hunt to win new business is the Request for Proposal (RFP). However, while most agencies understand the overall RFP process, many don’t take the time to evaluate and respond to them with the scrutiny they demand. At the outset, agencies should always evaluate RFPs to determine whether they should even respond at all. While it may seem intuitive to respond to every single RFP, that’s actually not the case. (You’ve heard of bad business, right?) So, what threshold questions should you ask before your agency responds to an RFP?

Questions to ask the RFP sender:

  1. Why are you sending this RFP?
  2. Will we have access to the decision makers or executive leadership team in your organization?
  3. Why did you include us?
  4. What is the timeline?
  5. Who owns the ideas that we submit or present?
  6. What role will pricing play in the final decision?
  7. How many firms are competing?
  8. Is there an incumbent?


Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do we have the industry expertise to win?
  2. What are the fees associated with this account?
  3. Is this a high profile opportunity, even if they aren’t in our “sweet spot”?
  4. Do we have the resources to pitch?
    • E.g., if we win, what will this do to the workload at our agency, and will we need to hire additional staff?
  5. Have we met the client or ever worked with them before?
    • Would we want to spend long periods of time with them? What is their reputation? Do they change agencies often?
    • If coming from a search consultant, have we worked with them before? Is the consultant a “pay-for-play” shop?
  6. Is it a paid pitch?
  7. Can this lead to more work?
    • Either from this client or can it put us in a good position to pitch to others and strengthen our expertise in a specific vertical?

It’s important to ask both the RFP sender and yourself as an agency these questions in order to better understand and determine if you should put the time and expense into a meaningful response. It may be tempting to dive right in and go after every single RFP you receive, but RFPs take a ton of resources to complete properly and can be a waste of your time if they aren’t the right fit for your agency or area(s) of expertise. After receiving the answers to the pertinent questions above, it will be easier to determine if the RFP is worth your valuable energy, or if you could better spend your resources on more fruitful fronts.

By critically evaluating an RFP and its’ source, as well as your own agency’s preferences and capabilities, you can set your agency up for new business success. These 15 questions are meant to help you get through the RFP process with greater ease and efficiency. If you have more questions about the RFP process or how to increase your agency’s new business, please contact us!

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Topics: Biz Development Processes & Tips, RFPs & Pitching

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