Individuals with careers in eLearning often started out as educational technologists or programmers, writers or creative educators. Few of us started this career path with expertise in business, management, not to mention sales. Most of us just don’t get it when it comes to selling products and services—the schools of education or computer science certainly didn’t focus on instilling business acumen or sales expertise. Yet in the real world, most of us (in both non-profit groups and private sector teams) will have to pitch to prospects and prepare a proposal for a potential project.

Tom Searcy (of HuntBigSales) has built his career on how all of us have the capability to land big projects—even if the team is small and the potential project is a “whale.” His first book Whale Hunting is a 250 page epic on how to secure large accounts. His latest book RFPs SUCK! should be mandatory reading for everyone in your organization who is involved in preparing proposals or prospect presentations. The new book is succinct, well organized, and full of useful tips if you are tasked with either creating or responding to an RFP. If your job is to write the RFP, hopefully you can avoid the ten dumbest RFP questions. This book will at least give you a better understanding and empathy for what vendors must go through to answer RFPs.

The truth is that RFPs often do SUCK. For those of us in the private sector, the worst types of RFPs are the perfunctory ones, when the process is wired for the incumbent to win. The client or consultant already has a favorite vendor (and it’s not you), but they are required to solicit other bids. Tom addresses the characteristics of these “RFPs to avoid.”

Other useful parts in the book include:

  1. Know how to quit the process before it starts:  Read about how to create a decision-making matrix, so you only spend time and resources answering the RFPs you should be answering.
  2. 10 ways a buyer says “you’re too small”: Tom analyzes ten fears buyers have of small companies.
  3. Examples on how you can position your organization to “get in the game,” including how to find RFPs.
  4. The importance of assembling a team to respond to the RFP.
  5. How to understand a large client and the reasons they change providers.
  6. How to “project manage” the process of writing a RFP.
  7. Make sure you learn to say what your prospects want to hear in terms of time, money and risk.
  8. How to avoid having a proposal that is a “me too” vendor response.  Distinguishing your company and solution from the heap of proposals is key to winning the game.
  9. Great tips and techniques on organizing the RFP response.
  10. A summary check list.

This short “how-to” book will more than pay for itself, especially if you’re an eLearning manager looking to win your next big project.

And be sure to follow Tom Searcy’s blog!