You heard me.
#AbolishRFPs. Check it–it’s trending.
This isn’t a new topic in our industry. Heck, I’ve even written about it before. But, it keeps popping up and every time I’m referred to an RFP, it gets me a little fired up.
Here’s why: As a solo, I believe RFPs/RFQs/RFIs are a complete waste of time. Three reasons:
1: They can take a lot of time. 20+ hours in some cases. That’s a lot of free money to be giving away, should you not win the RFP. The most recent RFP I came across had nine areas they wanted vendors to complete. That’s a lot of content to think through and create for one potential client. And for a solo, that’s a TON of time I just don’t have.
2: You don’t always know the full story. Sure, you can ask the client if the incumbent is applying. You can ask how many agencies or solos are involved. But more times than not, my bet is that you’ll never know the full story. Politics play a part. Personal vendettas come into play (on the client side). And, sometimes, the dynamics change mid-RFP–nothing you can do. Just seems to me like there are an awful lot of factors outside your control–I’ll take my chances elsewhere.
3: I already give enough away for free. This blog, for example. My Talking Points e-newsletter. The Talking Points Podcast. I create and give away enough free content and ideas throughout any given week–I’m not sure I want to give away anymore. Now, I’m not saying the aforementioned content is groundbreaking, or that those ideas are going to win any Silver Anvils. But, the fact remains: RFPs are often asking for free ideas. I don’t like giving away free ideas when I already give away so much.
Now, I talked about this issue on Facebook last week–many friends and colleagues weighed in. And, many of them pushed back on my #AbolishRFPs claim. I’d like address those issues head-on here:
“Try working for a large company and asking for $50M without one”
Yep, I’m not winning any $50M accounts. No need to argue this one.
“Look at it from the client’s side: RFPs are spectacularly efficient and, if done correctly, allow them to find the right-fit solution. So, yeah, we can say we won’t chase them but that just cuts us out of enormous swaths of potential work.”
I’m sure they do work well from the client side. But you know what? Why can’t the clients pay for the ideas? If they have a $50M budget, as one friend mentioned above, why not set aside a small chunk of that money to compensate the finalists for their thinking? I get the need to find the right fit, but I think there are other ways to go about it.
“Completely disagree that solos can’t win these things. I’m solo; I win these things. Sometimes I’m the only resume in the document and sometimes it’s a big team. It never even occurred to me that I couldn’t compete against agencies.”
The person who left this comment, in my view, is a unique individual. He almost specializes in RFPs and undoubtedly has spent years crafting a process to respond to them efficiently. Kudos, I say. But, for the remaining 99% of solos, it’s just not worth the effort when you can obtain work without going through this hideous process.
At the end of the day, I realize RFPs aren’t going anywhere. They’re a necessary evil–especially for bigger companies and agencies.
But, for solos? It’s high time this garbage stops. I haven’t seen a ton of RFPs in the last nine years, but the ones I have seen have been for projects with relatively minimal budgets.
And, I know there are probably exceptions for most people. If you’re really struggling to find work, completing an RFP seems a lot more paletable than if you’re already fairly busy. If the company issuing the RFP is a company you’ve always wanted to work with, maybe you do consider it.
But man, I just can’t get over the work and hours needed to invest to win these things. Still seems absurd to me.
Yep, #AbolishRFPs. I’m stickin’ with it.
What say you?