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choosing a sales enablement vendor
January 6, 2022

12 Sales Enablement RFP Mistakes to Avoid

choosing a sales enablement vendor

Given its powerful impact on the bottom line, sales enablement is no longer optional. Onboarding, training, coaching, and providing the right sales content is now a crucial function for survival and growth in today’s ultra-competitive economy.

And to do all that well, you’ll need the right sales enablement platform—a technology solution that will resolve your most pressing pains, and have the key capabilities your team will require in the future. To select a platform, all you need to do is send out a few RFPs, evaluate the options, and simply choose the best sales enablement solution, right?

Not so fast. With so many competing solutions on the market, how do you know which is the best match for your organization? Choosing the right sales enablement platform has become more of a challenge. It’s easy to make a mistake in the RFP process and end up with a solution that doesn’t fit your organization’s needs.

Top 12 RFP Mistakes to Avoid

There are a number of mistakes we’ve seen companies fall prey to during the request for proposal process. To save you time and headaches, here’s our list of RFP mistakes to avoid:

Mistake 1: Send your RFP to a laundry list of vendors.

You’ll get the best results (and reach the most qualified vendors) when you send your RFP to a curated list of platform providers. The Gartner Market Guide for Sales Enablement Platforms is an excellent resource that highlights critical sales enablement capabilities required for sales enablement success.

Mistake 2: Let your RFP replace a sit-down meeting with your top vendors.

You can’t compare vendors solely based on their written responses to your RFP. The RFP should simply be a qualifier to get vendors through to an interview phase.

Mistake 3: Omit a solution overview.

Vendors need a concise overview of what you want to get out of your sales enablement solution. Clearly state your goals so they understand what’s expected of them if they’re chosen. This is also referred to as a statement of work since it defines the scope of work the winning vendor will provide.

Mistake 4: Be general about your needs.

When vetting sales enablement solution providers, don’t use generalities like “we want to improve training.” This is table stakes and doesn’t tell the vendor anything they don’t already know. Instead, clearly state the requirements vendors must meet to be considered. You’ll list use cases, features, and capabilities that will satisfy the short- and longer-term needs of your company..

Mistake 5: Make cost the main focus of your RFP.

This almost always sets you up for failure, because you want the best solution, not the least expensive. If you choose the vendor with the lowest cost, chances are you’ll get lower-quality results. Instead, focus on finding a vendor that shares your values, and build a relationship with them to mutually define the desired outcomes.

Mistake 6: Ask for references before you’ve chosen your top vendors.

Asking for references too early will waste your time and the vendor’s. Wait until you’ve narrowed the field, and make sure the references you receive are detailed and up to date.

Mistake 7: Ask dozens of vendors to submit responses so you’ll get a variety of choices.

Instead, limit it to three or four vendors that you vet yourself. It’s easier to meet with and assess a smaller group of vendors.

Mistake 8: Rush through the selection process.

Considering a vendor will take some time and most likely involve multiple meetings, but carefully vetting each vendor and getting complete answers to your questions will be well worth the investment.

Mistake 9: Feel obligated to include an implementation timeline.

Based on your requirements, the winning vendor has the experience to recommend the best timeline for you and them. An RFP timeline only has to go through the selection of the vendor. You may, however, include a target date on when you’d prefer to have the platform stood up to coincide with a business objective, milestone, or project cycle.

Mistake 10: Evaluate RFP responses without a scoring system.

Using a scoring system to evaluate RFPs helps you make apples-to-apples comparisons. Score the responses you receive on a scale from 1-5 or 1-10. Even better, weight the capabilities on your RFP so that the most important are worth the most. You’ll be able to see which vendors will meet your needs more quickly and easily.

Mistake 11: Use an inconsistent RFP format.

We recommend using an Excel doc or Google sheet with easily comparable tables and lists wherever possible. Each of your questions should correspond with a specific section to keep things organized. Make sure you leave space for the vendor to reply.

Mistake 12: Don’t notify vendors who didn’t win the job.

Vendors put a lot of time and care into their responses. Let them know which vendor won the project and accompany that with a brief reason why they didn’t get the job.

Learn More

Download your All-in-One Sales Enablement Kit to learn how to create a comprehensive RFP and keep the evaluation process on track.

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Gartner Market Guide to Sales Enablement Platforms
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