Better RFP Responses & Management
The Fourth P of Selling

The Fourth P of Selling

Like all sales, winning contracts by responding to RFPs doesn’t happen without significant, sustained effort. First, it takes time to learn the ropes. But even when you know what you’re doing, the hit rate is about that of a successful major league batter: between 1 in 5 and 1 in 3. A lesson I learned from selling my book applies equally well in bidding on contracts.  

They say there are three Ps of Selling:

Persist – Well, that’s obvious, no?

Patient – Likewise, I’m sure.

Personal –  How can it hurt to establish  a rapport with your customers wherever you can?

But that “personal” principle is double-barrelled: to wit, (Don’t take it) Personal(ly).  Not the silence, and not the outright rejection.  (Move along, there’s nothing to see here.)  Because you will get lots of both.

I learned this from an experienced marketing instructor with whom I was sharing an office in my short foray into academia.  A student had come to our office, seeking advice on a job offer in sales.  My office-mate suggested that he consider whether he had the right personality for sales work, which he described thusly:

“You’re selling something door to door.  The first guy doesn’t answer.  The next guy slams the door in your face.  The third guy kicks you to the curb.  As you pick yourself up, you say, confidently, “The next one will buy.”  And you head off, enthusiasm undiminished.  That’s what sales is.”

An exaggeration?  Maybe.  But success in sales does require–if not exactly an impervious nature–then at least the ability to let the missed sales slide off your back, rather than riding it.

How much more important when you’re selling your own product.  Maybe, oh I don’t know, a book you took two years to write.

You don’t want it?  No problem.  The next one will buy.



  1. barbara carlson

    That is why when it comes to telemarketers who get 99/100 No’s, I say I’m not interested, “…but good luck with your next call.”
    It is so mature and kind of me that when I lose it the 100th time, I forgive myself.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Barbara – Yes, we used to say that random good deeds made points to reduce our time in Purgatory. Not sure anyone believes in Purgatory any longer. One fellow I sent a notice to sent me a “That’s nice” reply – clearly not interested, but just as clearly following your principle – spread a little cheeriness, especially when it doesn’t cost much to do so. And so much better than the dreaded silence of the abyss.

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