The request for proposal, or RFP, is important and for some industries a requirement. When done thoughtfully, this selection process can be a great experience that leads to meaningful partnerships that endure. It can be an effective question set to learn more about a company; however, it often stops at just that.
I’ve been on the winning and losing side of this process, and as I reflect on how great partnerships are built, even the ones where FirstPerson was not chosen, I see an important theme emerging. When you treat the RFP process like the process you use when hiring talent, great outcomes happen.
Picture this: You’re trying to fill a position at your company and as part of the hiring process you give each candidate a questionnaire to take home for a week, fill out, and return. By doing this, you’re taking a huge gamble on who that person actually is and how they work. You wouldn’t hire an employee whom you haven’t met. The same goes for selecting a business partner.
You can easily enhance the process with a focus on relationship building. By taking this approach, you’ll gain a better understanding of the partner you could be working with, their company culture, and whether their way of conducting business aligns with your company’s philosophy.
Before you begin, it’s important that:
- You are clear regarding your pain points and aspirations and able to articulate the “why” of what is driving the process
- You work your network to focus in on just a few potential partners and eliminate the distractions of casting a wide net
- You find ways to make relationship building a key part of the experience for both of your teams
By taking time to identify your needs and your definition of a great business partner, you’ll be better equipped to choose one that will fit your company like a glove and build a lasting business relationship. A new partner needs to be part of your long-term strategy. Don’t skimp on the amount of time and energy needed to find the best candidate for the job.
Use our Selecting a Great Business Partner toolkit as a resource to navigate this process and ensure you create partnerships that help both you and your team accomplish goals and create the meaningful work you desire.