How to Shape RFPs & Win More Deals

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

Win More Deals Handshake

As some of you do daily, I religiously read the content shared on Twitter by some of the most influential minds in our industry. Back in November 2013, I saw a cool stat published by Steve Richard of Vorsight while he was at Dreamforce 2013. I’ve been meaning to write my thoughts about it especially because this personally impacted me while at a company years ago.

Steve Richard




I’m glad to see that we’ve got research now confirming what we’ve known anecdotally all along: if you help shape the RFP, you’ve got nearly 3 in 4 chance of winning a deal. If that figure wasn’t important enough, look at the stat of just replying to a defined RFP (one in which you’ve had no influence); it’s less than 15%. This nearly 60% gap can absolutely make or break a sales quota.

Going in Blind

If you’re a company that’s blindly replying to RFPs, it’s a strategy that can only take you so far. Have you (or are you) working for a company whose strategy includes responding to RFPs from the plethora of RFP warehouse sites? I have and let me tell you, it’s no fun. I believe I had a whopping success rate of 5%-10%. Just the sheer effort it took to complete one of these RFPs was monumental. And, it seldom only involved me. It required people from different departments that were already stretched too thin on time. I would venture to take a guess that it took the company 30-100 hours of effort to really build a solid RFP.

That’s a lot of time!

As I think back to what this meant, replying blindly to two RFPs/month basically meant I was spending a 25% of my time (at the bare minimum) on wishful thinking. A hope and a prayer may have had more chance at success!

Lay Down the Mines & Set the Booby Traps

It’s important you shape the RFP because you’ll not only have the opportunity to show your solution in a good light, you’ll also be able to ensure your competitors’ disadvantages are highlighted (to the extreme, if possible). We call this laying down the mines and setting the booby traps.

Let’s get down to basics here. How are you going to shape the next RFP you’re interested in? Before we answer this, let’s work backwards first. How will you be able to build rapport and show enough value so that you’re invited to shape the RFP? I think this is the real question. If you don’t have a strategy for this then you’ve fundamentally lost before you’ve started.

Most customers today have developed catchy ways to tune out sales people and their blind cold calling and e-mailing. These strategies alone demonstrate virtually zero value.

Social Media

Go Social

Adding Social to your mix of prospecting will allow you to learn a lot more about your prospects/buyers. It will enable you to have very relevant and contextual conversations about topics that buyers are already interested in. Why cold call for Solution ABC when your prospect may be interested in Solution XYZ, instead?

So go ahead. Go Social. It’ll allow you to build rapport, trust, and most importantly create value first before expecting it in return. This will pave the way for you to be able to shape the RFPs of tomorrow, lay down the mines, set the booby traps and, most importantly, give yourself a statistical dominance of winning over your competitors.

The Bottom Line

Social selling is an important skill you’ll need to pick up if you’re serious about sales. It’s not difficult; it’s just different. If you have any questions on how to get started, contact me and I can help you.

After all, winning RFPs strategically is better than spending your time blindly.

To learn more about Social Selling check out 10 Steps to Becoming a Social Selling Machine or 9 Steps to a Winning LinkedIn Profile for Sales Professionals. For tips, tricks and more rants, we could always set-up a time to chat using my below schedule …

Amar Sheth


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