Don’t Feed the Vendors – the RFP Response Edition

Holland Dombeck McCue Business Development, Communication, Don't Feed the Vendors, Holidays, Holland Dombeck, HR Tech, HR Technology, HR Vendors, Innovation 2 Comments

I’m throwing it back to old school FOT today for a Black Friday edition of “Don’t Feed the Vendors.” For those unfamiliar with the segment, we used spotlight vendors on the site long before the days of sponsored content and influencer campaigns and allowed them their 15-minutes on the site. However, it’s the day after Thanksgiving, and now I’m craving some new tech in 2019, so I’m sharing a few dos and don’ts for successful RFP responses to wet the palette of our vendor friends this holiday season.


• Request a Q&A with the company and take vigorous notes so you can later weave their vernacular into your pitch. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – and flattery sells.
• Proof your work and make sure you answered every part of every question – go the extra mile by repeating the question 3rd grade style to showcase you aligned to the prompt provided.
• Include supporting glossy marketing materials or videos (because who really wants to read an RFP to begin with?!)
• Write a snazzy cover letter, but make sure it’s exported as a PDF in case the company you’re responding to hasn’t updated their software since Gates and Ballmer broke it down at the Windows 95 launch party.



• Repeat your responses using the same boilerplate line after line, or request reviewers refer to an earlier line – you’re messing with my Excel flow.
• Trust that your RFP response team (person) has you covered – they don’t. Proof that ish.
• Avoid the question being asked and serve up a bunch of other features you offer to distract readers from the fact that you avoided the question, and don’t actually offer the feature.
• Stalk anticipated reviewers on social media or through their personal network.

What else would you serve up with this dish?

Happy Black Friday, FOT Nation!

Holland Dombeck McCue

Holland Dombeck McCue is the former editor turned blogger here at Fistful of Talent. She plays in the employment branding and B2B marketing space and currently heads up Recruitment Marketing and Global Employment Branding for Delta Air Lines. So, it goes without saying that the opinions shared on FOT are hers and hers alone. She wishes it could go without saying, but hey, Legal runs a tight ship…

Comments 2

  1. Do:
    * Propose – separated out from the original bid – additional value-added services addressing things we didn’t think of. Sometimes there are things we planned to do ourselves but would happily pay for if you can do it better and have it smoothly integrated in from the start.
    * Submit a professional response, no matter how friendly and cheerful our interactions have been up until you submit the response. I’m not your BFF.

    * Propose – as part of your bid – additional services.
    *Merge your terms & conditions document with ours. If you’re not willing to accept our T&Cs as is, redline the hell out of that sucker but do not make our procurement people have to crawl through some merged mess word by word to see what you changed. They will hate you, our lawyers will hate you, and I will hate you.
    * Respond with a PowerPoint full of glossy “we are wonderful and you should be honored to give us your money” marketing materials that spend more time extolling the accolades than actually addressing the bid. We are going to have a good laugh and your arrogance will linger as an inside joke. This is probably not what you had in mind, but we sure enjoyed it.
    * Snuggle up to our executives and try to convince them to pressure us into choosing your bid. We will hate you even more and will push back on that executive pressure without hesitation. They took the same ethics class we did, they should know better.

    Just submit a detailed, professional bid which addresses our requirements – we want to spend this money so give us good reasons to give it to you!

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