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  • Hey guys, this is Steli Efti with Close.io. Every day I get founders to actually send

  • me emails, typically asking for very tactical advice in the sales process.

  • A lot of times founder ask me for advice, especially with the deal with really large

  • organizations that have very complex buying cycles.

  • Today Igot an email, I printed it out, because I thought that actually the answer that I

  • have is going to be really useful and valuable to hopefully others as well.

  • So I wanted to record it, right? So I'm going to read you the email real quick.

  • Subject line was reading: Sales bakeoff advice Here's what the founders said. She said we

  • got invited to do an RFI process. RFI is request for information. A lot of times government

  • agencies and government bodies will actually send out RFIs so that multiple vendors can

  • give them usually tons and tons of information before they narrow down who they want to work

  • with. But a lot of other large organizations do the same thing.

  • Got invited to an RFI process with a big company. They sent us the criteria they're looking

  • at. Is this going to be a waste of time because they did already decide on a provider and

  • just want to go through the motions of having done some diligence? Another thing that makes

  • me wonder and worry is if the evaluation is in name only, or if the criteria are actually

  • really far, because they seem to be somewhat odd, and not super-favorable to choosing us.

  • Can we get them to change their criteria at all?

  • So that was the question that I got sent to me today. And here is the answer that I have.

  • Pick up the damn phone and call them. Right?

  • That's the simplest piece of advice I can give you.

  • Here's the biggest challenge that founders have in these kinds of situations. So you

  • get an email, some large organization that would be an amazing customer requests information,

  • and now, you are in your head, worrying, what to do or not to do, how to do what you do,

  • or you decided not to do, and you're trying to come up with all the answers and all the

  • solutions in your mind. Which wastes a lot of fucking time. You're

  • probably going to make mistakes. Because face it, you don't have enough information. She

  • doesn't have enough information, she doesn't know anything about them.

  • She read probably a pretty long email and then had to make a lot of assumptions on what

  • to do, and now she is second guessing herself if they even should participate in the process

  • or not, or how to actually make this a winning proposition for them, and a deal that even

  • has a chance to close.

  • So here is what you need to do when you don't have enough information... your first job

  • is to get more information. Reply to that email and say:

  • Hey, we're honored to be selected to be part of the RFI process, can we quickly jump on

  • a ten minute call, we have a few very specific questions to make sure we give you all the

  • information in the best possible way?

  • If they don't want to get on a call with you, just send them a list of questions in the

  • email.

  • How did you find us? Why did you decide to include us in the process?

  • How many other vendors are in the process? Do you have examples of winning bids in the

  • past that could guide us in terms of what the most successful way is to give you the

  • information you need?

  • You just send them a list of all the questions that you need, but even better if you can,

  • don't do that in email, actually jump on a... if there is a phone number in the email, dial

  • that number immediately, call them, and say: "Hey, I just got your email, John. Really

  • awesome that you guys included us. I need five minutes of your time to ask a few follow

  • up questions and make sure that we can make a good decision if we want to be part of this

  • or not."

  • If there is no phone number included just send them a quick reply and say:

  • We're honored, we're interested. I need 10 minutes of your time to make sure that we

  • send you the right information and we have enough context to even make a decision if

  • we want to be part of this, and how we actually can service you.

  • Get on a call and then ask them all these questions, all the questions she asked me,

  • she needs to ask them.

  • Hey, how did you come up with selecting us? How many other participants are there?

  • Is there one of the participants that you guys have been further in the discussion with

  • than others?

  • Right? Let's talk about their criteria. You said that there's ten things that are really

  • important to you. Can we go through them really quickly, and can you give me some context

  • on why these things are important?

  • Ask all these questions to actually create the context you need to make a decision.

  • Is this really a waste of time or not? Can we win this deal? Is this a good fit for us?

  • Or not? And if it is a good fit and we're not wasting time, how exactly do we need to

  • provide information, how exactly do we need to play this game to win?

  • Don't make assumptions! Don't worry about things!

  • Don't wander off in your mind, what you should and shouldn't do!

  • Don't even send emails to people, asking them. The smartest people will probably give very

  • dangerous advice. You know, advice is nothing else than limited life experience and overgeneralization.

  • My favorite Paul Buchheit quote.

  • Pick up the damn phone, or hit the reply button, and ask the person that got in touch with

  • you to give you more context. Have them answer your questions, before you make a decision

  • if you want to go after that large organization, that big company, or not.

Hey guys, this is Steli Efti with Close.io. Every day I get founders to actually send

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A2 US email information advice send process context

"How to respond to an RFI?" (Request For Information) - sales advice by @steli

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    alex posted on 2016/05/14
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