Beyond Referrals Professional Services RFP Buyers Survey

We recently shared a link on about 40 social media sites and to the thousands of folks on our email database inviting a response to our Beyond Referrals Professional Services RFP Buyers Survey – this one geared toward the buyers of professional services and not the vendors.

Professional Services RFP Buyers Survey Responses

There’s no way around it – the response level was disappointing.

While our other RFP survey targeting vendors received over 150 responses, this survey received less than 10% of that.

I believe there are three major reasons for the low response rate.

The first being that we sent it out the week before the holidays so that probably had a greater impact than we expected.

The second being that I think professional services vendors are more passionate about the RFP issue than the buyers are.

And the third and likely the most significant reason is that our profile and connections and database are far more substantial on the vendor side than the buyer side.

Simply put we probably just didn’t get it in front of enough people.

Having said all that there are still some insights to share and you can find them below. Just don’t read anything statistically significant into them…


  • The number of professional services RFPs issued each year by an organization was either very low (less than 5) or very high (more than 30).
  • Similarly the dollar value was book-ended at under $100,000 or over $1,000,000
  • One vendor that issues 50+ RFPs each year for a total of $1-5 Million dollars, and who indicated that price is never required in their RFPs provided the following comment “Price is not a factor for professional services like A/E work per state procurement code and statutes”. Nice to see that someone out there is using the Qualifications Based Selection process.
  • When asked why they require a price the reasons typically clustered around very passive notions and not definitive active requirements. That took several forms such as:
    • We have to because we are government
    • We have always done it that way
    • We see no reason to change
    • We don’t know other methods we could use to evaluate vendors
    • Our procurement policy requires pricing (more than half of the respondents indicated this was the case which is interesting because in the past when I have challenged buyers on that assumption we have always found out that it is an inaccurate assumption)
  • In terms of the weighting of price it was about one-third weighting price at 30% or lower, one-third weighting price at 60%, and one third weighting price at 90% (90% weighting on price is just plain scary).

So what have we achieved with this survey? Not a lot of hard statistical evidence I am afraid but the results we did get are further anecdotal evidence of the type of RFP pricing structure issues I continue to see in the professional services sector.

Hopefully we can do something about that in the years to come.

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The Consultant with Pink Hair

"This should be required reading for consultants AND their clients - especially the part about RFPs." - Blair Enns, Win Without Pitching

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