We seem to have a love/hate relationship with quotes, or requests for proposals (RFPs); their value has often been debated. Best practices and new trends, such as how do you showcase your venue while meeting the planner’s need for concise reporting, are always a hot topic.
But what about the flip side? What information is now available to you to use in the future? What details about a client can you glean when a RFP is submitted?
For your sales team, it could be a pot of gold.
Take a minute to brew a cup of coffee while we look at how you can continue to make RFPs work for you.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Not every RFP that comes across your desk will be an instant winner for you. But there is a way to make each proposal share it's potential. Here are two ways to start the process.
1. ALWAYS RESPOND:
As we have talked about before, ensuring you have a response procedure for RFPs should be high priority, even if you cannot accommodate the request. Even thought you responded with no, you shared your dedication to assisting them and showed how quickly you respond to communication.
But the sales process shouldn’t stop there. Take it a step further.
2. DATA COLLECTION:
Start collecting data from your RFPs to put in central location. There is a wealth of information coming in on a RFP (length of the stay, estimated group size, an annual or a one-time thing) which holds the potential for a future return.
Not sure what to collect? Start by asking some questions:
- How might you use this data in the future? Could this be to fill empty space with little effort?
- What data on the RFP is the most important especially on a lost RFP? For example, you obviously want to make sure you record contact information.
- If the RFP was lost, is the reason why important? For example, if you are looking at this a year down the road as a marketing opportunity, do you need to know the reason you weren't awarded the RFP was because your price was too high?
It’s All About the Data
You have collected the information, now what? Now use it to make informed business decisions. Go back to that first question - How do you want to use the data you collected
Here are three ways you could use the data to work for you.
1. TURN DOWN BUSINESS:
If that RFP was lost, ask why. Was it because buildings were lacking? Or was space full? Pull a report showing the lost business, the total value of that business, and the reasons why. This can help make the case to justify new staff or new projects.
2. FILLING OPEN SPACES
You have an open space, but you aren't sure how to fill it. Start with groups who have already shown an interest in your site. Or if you have a group who has cancelled, pull a report of a proposal you had to turn down who was looking at the same dates. You can send a quick email to let them know the space has now opened up that was previously booked.
3. START YOUR BOOKING PROCESS EARLIER
You have re-booked returning groups and have a good idea of where you stand. Now, use those previous proposals to help full open spaces. Create an email campaign announcing your calendar is open and encouraging prospects to beat the rush; book early before space is gone.
If your conference management system provides you with easy access to such reports, these are quick actions you can take that have the potential for a large return on investment.
Let the Data do the Heavy Lifting
Having data is great, but it does you no good if it comes and then goes. And understanding that data is imperative.
Yes, RFPs can be time consuming, but they can be a treasure of valuable information. Set up a process where you aren't just recording the data, but using it to make informed decisions to move your business forward.