Avoiding common RFP mistakes

July 30th, 2015

Understanding should be everyone’s first priority!

 

Today’s post is by Michael Figueroa, Project Manager at SafeSourcing

I sometimes hear stories from suppliers that are downright outrageous; I’ve literally been told “the dog ate my RFP”, and “I didn’t read any of the documentation” on multi-million dollar projects by executive level professionals. I’ve worked with a supplier on multiple year projects who has been late on each one, and always because his “mother just passed away”. If you’ve worked with me before you know I can sometimes be a little bit pushy to make sure you understand the structure of the RFP at hand, but I assure you it’s only to make sure the process goes smoothly for you. But what causes people to overlook the details of a project? I would suggest that the root of the problem is something every human being is susceptible to: Assuming we already know everything we need to know.

When going into a new RFP or other procurement project, the first assumption should be that we don’t know the needs of the customer until we’ve taken the time to learn them. I’ve seen suppliers come into a project trying to force their agenda, or assume the details of an RFP rather than observing, learning, and understanding first and asking questions second. It will always be difficult to come to a mutually beneficial business partnership if you don’t even understand the initial request that is being made. A successful RFP provides some basic information and asks questions, allowing the supplier to respond explaining their position, including product/service details, quotes, constraints, etc. Not actively listening and learning causes us to talk past each other, and can cause a misalignment of value propositions.

Listening well is a skill so commonly lacking that it is one of the first things taught in relationship counseling, and shouldn’t be overlooked in our professional lives. Active listening is taught formally in the classroom or counseling session by having one person take turns speaking to another, with the listener repeating in his/her words what was heard. This is effective because it prevents us from falling into the destructive habit of thinking about what we want to say while we should be listening to what is being said. Research suggests we only have the mental bandwidth to process a maximum of 1.6 conversations at a time, and if you’re fully listening to your own thoughts about what you want to say, you’re only hearing 60% of what you should be observing1.

[1] “Too Much Noise – Steelcase.” 2015. 15 Jul. 2015 <http://www.steelcase.com/insights/articles/much-noise/>

We make every effort at our company to make sure you are aware of the details of any procurement project, and also encourage feedback during the process to ensure each project is a positive opportunity, allowing you to put your best foot forward.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist your team with this process or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative.  We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

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