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When looking for an ESP, who should be putting an RFP together?

Looking for an ESP

Who should be involved in the RFP process when looking for an ESP?

The biggest problem with most RFPs is that the questions are either compiled by the wrong people or not enough of the right ones. Although procurement may have the right experience in compiling RFPs and know how to drive negotiations, they may not understand your specific solution requirements. By the same token, asking just the marketing department or just the IT department is also incorrect as many other business units are also involved.

Ideally, the RFP should be developed by all business units who will ultimately be involved with the solution. So when putting together the RFP, think about the outcome. Email marketing affects all sides of the business and the compilation of the RFP should therefore include marketing, IT, call center, customer service & sales, as well as procurement. This will make for the most well rounded responses. In my experience, I have often found that the call center and customer service areas are most often forgotten in this process.

Determining who should be involved in the RFP process should be based on who will own and who will be impacted going forward. Who is responsible for the success of this solution? They must understand the direction and solution required.

Who do you invite to participate?

Time and time again, RFPs are sent out to a list of ESPs, but without that crucial first step – meeting them beforehand. Every good partnership is based on a relationship. Take the time to meet the ESPs you’d like to invite to gain a better understanding upfront of whether you would work well together – this means meeting the account management team, rather than just the sales team. This process gives the ESP a chance to become familiar with your business and your unique requirements, which results in far improved responses to your RFP.

Decide what you want in an ESP, meet those potential suppliers and send the RFP out to them. You’ll find that you won’t send the RFP to all the ESPs and some may decline to bid for the contract based on the culture and fit of the company – saving you time down the line.

Once you have the right team in place, a clear understanding of your goals and have determined the right candidates, you are ready to embark on your RFP journey.

10 Steps to finding the right ESP through an RFP:

  1. Have a strategy
  2. Include all business units involved
  3. When putting questions together, include as much detail as possible (it’s difficult to provide pricing if the information provided is vague)
  4. Decide on the key features you want in an ESP
  5. Draw up a candidate list based on those features
  6. Meet with your ESP candidates
  7. Send out the RFP to those that fit the bill
  8. Shortlist the vendors based on their ability to fulfill your specific requirements
  9. Set up presentations by the shortlisted vendors with all the stakeholders that have been involved from the start
  10. Find your perfect match (and hopefully after all the effort, the decision won’t be made purely on price)

RFPs are a time consuming process, yes, but if you take the time to do it right from the start, you will find the perfect ESP for your business.

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