RFPs are a game. As a best practice for buyers, RFPs simplify the buying process and weed out media that is off the mark, allowing more time with more approprate media. But with buyers under pressure to make decisions more quickly, RFPs get misused. When they become the primary tool of evaluation, insightful media buying sufferers.

From the seller side, we hear:

  • "So I’m supposed to tell you why my site is better than the 180 other sites that received an RFP?"
  • "Great, another ‘we expect totally out-of-the-box thinking’ proposal!"
  • "Gee, we get a grand total of two hours to pull together a rock-solid proposal that nails the objective. How convenient."
  • "We’re honored to be invited to be a strategic partner and meet the client’s long-term goals with the exciting test budget of $5,000?"

From the buyer side:

  • "Why don’t publishers respond to my requests in a timely manner?"
  • "I asked for a proposal with a limit of $20,000, yet I get a package for $50,000. What’s up with that?"
  • "I clearly asked for specific targeting criteria, yet 80 percent of what they’re offering doesn’t meet the stated objectives."
  • "Ten seconds after emailing the RFP, I get a call with questions for the same information that’s noted in it. Didn’t he read it?"

Hering makes the following suggestions for media sellers:

Timing is key. Responding in a timely manner is fundamental to a buyer who is trying to wrangle several proposals. Always acknowledge when you get an RFP and note if you plan to participate. (Note to sales managers: Make sure you properly transition accounts. Nothing is more frustrating to a buyer than sending an important request to a dead email account or blank voicemail box.)

  • Respond appropriately. If the RFP is not clear about where questions should be directed, find out how you can inquire, then provide questions in written form.
  • Read the proposal from top to bottom at least twice before you ask your first question. You’ll be amazed at how things can become clearer after a second reading.
  • Meet the request. Sure, you’ve got sales goals, but be sure to totally address the request first. Then, provide additional options. Let’s face it, almost everyone loves options. Still, we all get turned off if our initial request is overlooked. Nail the request (including the budget), then upsell all you want.
  • No rug-pulling, please. Make sure the inventory is there when you sell it. If it’s perishable, just make sure the buyer knows the details and any corresponding restrictions. Nothing will drive a buyer insane faster than getting a client excited about an opportunity only to have to call back 10 minutes later with an "Oops, we didn’t have all the details" apology.

Just keep in mind, every time you get an RFP someone is inviting you to do business with them!

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