Summary / TL;DR: Our client was deep into the sales cycle and confident of the win – and ended up disappointed. They wanted to know why – turns out the lost the deal all the way back at the RFP stage.
Our client was a B2B marketing agency, and they were pursuing a multi-million dollar opportunity to take over the entire web and social media presence for their prospect. They’re quite deep into the sales cycle. They’ve made it through the RFI stage and the RFP stage to initial demonstrations responses. They are feeling fairly confident that this is looking good for them, so it came as quite a surprise when they lost this opportunity.
When we spoke to their prospects to understand what the nature of the loss was, it was quite interesting what had happened. In the RFP response, several different pieces of material were being requested from our client to be provided, including graphics and resumes, backgrounds and examples, etc. Unfortunately, our client had done quite a poor job of assembling those, and they had arrived in their prospect’s ultimate inbox in various bits and pieces. Sometimes, the file sizes were too big and they got bounced. It was left up to their prospect to assemble all these pieces together so that they could socialize it with a larger decision-making group that existed within their organization.
It was this that determined the ultimate outcome for our client: a Loss.
At that point, they decided they weren’t going to win the opportunity. And the reason why is because our client professed that they were going to take care of their prospect’s entire customer-facing web and social media presence, and they were always about the customer first. But, in their very first step – their RFP response – they demonstrated that they weren’t thinking about the end customer.
Sadly, that is where they lost the opportunity. However, they made it quite deep into the sales cycle, and they were actually kept in the as a “stalking horse” just to beat down the ultimate winner of the opportunity, which was one of their competitors.
So what did they do about this?
Well, they looked very carefully at their RFI and RFP responses and acknowledged that it was quite fragmented, that multiple different departments put together different pieces of the RFP response, and sometimes this could look like a fragmented response.
It was a relatively simple process for them to put in this governance line in their RFI / RFP response process and make sure that this fragmentation didn’t manifest itself to their end client. What resulted was a unified, blended response to the RFP process.