We all know about the dreaded RFP, or request for proposal. This is where a potential clients sends an email out to a number of companies asking for a proposal for their event, meeting, or other special event. I deal with this as well, but on a much smaller scale. Since we only provide entertainment, it is rare that my proposals are long, which is a good thing. Proposals can seem like a hassle to many event and meeting companies because it may encourage some level of price shopping, comparison shopping, and it often reduces you to just another proposal in a stack of a dozen. There are ways to not only embrace the RFP, but also make it work for you by landing more clients as a result of it, and if you really hate it, there is a way to avoid it altogether. Interested?? Read on.
1. When submitting an RFP for any client, do a good amount of research on the company using Google and other online tools to find out as much as you can in order to customize your RFP and make it stand out.
2. List the items clearly in your proposal so the client can easily see what they are getting and if necessary you may want to include prices for each item. Total transparency helps.
3. Instead of just blandly listing what your RFP consists of, you could add some photos, videos, and some testimonials from past clients. You want to SELL yourself and your company, but don’t overdo it.
4. Develop lots of partnerships, referral alliances and relationships with people who can bring you business. The more of these you have, the less you have to rely on RFP’s to secure you work. This does not mean you will never have to do an RFP again, but it does mean that you can lessen the amount of them you do. The more friends in the business you have the better. There is generally not much of a relationship when you submit an RFP because you are probably among dozens of companies that did the same thing. Ask yourself, when was the last time a good friend of yours asked for a formal proposal for a client of theirs. Your friends and the people you have relationships with are more likely to trust you and may only need something written in an email to present to their client.
5. Ask lots of questions in order to fully understand what their goals and objectives are for the event. You may also want to find out how important price is for the client. You want to stay within budget, but if you deliver an RFP with an outstanding idea that is just slightly over budget, the client may just go with you anyway. By the way, this works, as I have a friend who did this and got the client even though she was a little higher than they had mentioned.
6. Finally, make sure you follow up on all RFP’s. Just because you do not hear anything does not necessarily mean that you did not get the client. You have to be persistent, but not a pest. A simple phone call or email asking if they have any questions or have made a decision is all it takes. Do not give up until you hear the word no. This is also good customer service.
Well, gotta go, I’m off to write an RFP:)
Joshua Gair – Impact Entertainment