What I’ve found over the years is there are only a few root reasons why companies go through an RFP process:
1. Cost: The reasons many people switch jobs? They figure they’re likely to get paid more by leaving -- only to find out it’s not as rosy at the other end. Reducing costs is the top reasons most switch. They’ve heard that CPM prices are declining, and they haven’t renegotiated for a few years and feel they are leaving money on the table.
2. Dissatisfaction with services: The vendor doesn’t open my car door any longer! Quality of performance, response and strategic has dulled. You’re on the Aluminum Plan, not the Gold Support Plan.
3. Better capabilities:  ; This is the strangest rationale, but trade shows will always be full of impressive WOW demos that you want to take home. Strange, since most don’t even come close to maximizing the capabilities of their existing technology.
4. General changing of the guard: We still find that the average tenure of an email marketer is two to three years, and CMOs lifespan tend to mirror that. Change is good in marketing, yet we find programs that consistently outperforrm others in retail have an ability to retain people in these roles longer than the average. That experience really pays off, with fewer mistakes, and better cost management.
What makes all this more of a challenge is that procurement gets much more involved today, so you add the extra challenge of justifying value vs. cost compression. And if inexperience and procurement meet, things get cut and you don’t realize what you’ve sacrificed.
The difference between today’s and yesterday’s RFPs is the sheer number of questions. The last few I’ve seen had 400+.-- -- There is no possible way someone can distill this information in a meaningful way -- and rarely dos these capabilities roll into pricing (Yes you do this, is it an extra charge?)
Most still use the typical analyst guideline for top enterprise selectors, but there are many other options more informed about the technical sides of the ESPS (who actually use the tools), migration, and security views. There are larger community groups of “insiders” and “influencers” that work collectively across the industry and there are more than a few consultants playing the RFP arbitrator. All can be very useful. The challenge is who to use, if anyone at all? Even customer referral is not as exact a science, as I doubt your direct competitor will tell you much about how they operate with a vendor, so any input from another client is purely contextual.
It will take two to three months to write requirements and develop an RFI or RFP. If it’s cross-departmental, you should add 10%-20% to the time for coordination of all inputs/needs. The submission process and management of the RFP can take up to three months, from beginning to selection. The contracting process can take one to two months and in the event you do not select your incumbent, the migration process is likely no less than three to six months to get to an unplugged state.
A few things to keep in mind:
The few things that are getting much more attention in RFPs these days, especially in retail, are:
My advice to the many future RFP writers and responders: Let’s move outside the box in finding client/vendor partnerships that can sustain the key drivers of RFPS, can evolve as needs evolve, and eliminate the bait and switch that happens when vendors get negotiated past the point of value-add.