Inspiring Clients to Abandon the RFP, One Qualifications Based Selection at a time

Cal explains just one reason why price-based RFPs should be banned in Canada like they are in the US.


Cal Harrison Inspires Change in the Buyers and Sellers of Professional Services

Bring Cal’s QBS Event to Your Association – Interactive, Practical, Funny, Valuable (and Easy)

Cal makes it easy for your association to host an event anywhere in North America to deliver a one-day or half-day seminar, or one hour speech, on using QBS instead of a low-price RFP when hiring professional services firms.

Simply contact Cal at or

For Professional Services Firms

Cal estimates that about 95% of all branding by professional services firms is based upon the flawed concept of differentiation.

_ian1706Cal’s presentation on selling professional services addresses this common branding error – trying to differentiate a firm – and instead provides a road map for creating a brand that is based upon relevance and value, key components of attracting new clients – especially in the search-based digital marketing world.

This presentation is based upon his best-selling book The Consultant with Pink Hair a must-read for principals and practitioners in IT, architecture, engineering, consulting, law, design, market research and any type of advisory firm seeking new insights into selling their advice instead of their hours.

For Financial and Procurement Executives

Cal speaks and writes about how many parts of the world still rely on a procurement process that has been illegal in the United States for 44 years.

Globe July 22 2016 Horizontal SmallMay 4 WFP Article on QBSIn 1972 the US federal government made it illegal to use a price-based Request for Proposal (RFP) process when hiring architects and engineers for federal government projects. Since then 46, states have implemented similar legislation at the state level.

So what is the alternative that is required by the legislation? Can it be applied to other professions beyond architecture and engineering? And what makes it so much better than the RFP process?

Cover Picture QBS Book with OutlineThis presentation is based upon Cal’s recently updated book, Buying Professional Services: Replacing the Price-Based Request for Proposal with Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) and Cal’s presentation will lead you through a fantastic journey to discover why the RFP is so inefficient, and how it provides such poor results that it remains outlawed in the US.

“The best publication I have found dealing with QBS” – Michael Asner, RFP Mentor

Cal’s presentation is a must-see for financial and procurement executives in all sectors that want a procurement process that will provide fewer cost and schedule overages, greater project sustainability and innovation, and lower operating costs when hiring architecture, engineering, IT, law, consulting and other professional services firms for their organization.


Cal’s Tedx talk in Winnipeg June 4, 2015 provides 5 billion reasons we need to do things differently when hiring professional services firms in Canada.


“What is QBS?

QBS (Qualifications Based Selection) is a process by which a professional services firm is (i) first selected because they are the most qualified firm for a specific project and (ii) a process in which pricing cannot be considered as part of the selection.

Only once a firm has been identified as the most qualified, can price be introduced and ultimately negotiated.

The Benefits of QBS

Clients Get Better Project Pricing and Vendors Deliver Better Projects

The American Public Works Association (APWA) and American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC USA) have done research that indicates that budget creep on a QBS awarded project is more than three times lower than that of a price-based RFP awarded project. That means QBS gives significantly greater budget certainty and fewer cost over-runs.

Clients Select The Best Vendors and Vendors Waste Less Time Bidding on Vague RFPs

When low-price is part of the selection process, it gives an unqualified vendor the opportunity to beat a qualified vendor using low-price, and then use change-orders to make up the difference in price. When price is not part of the evaluation process, unqualified vendors usually choose not to waste their time trying to win a project they are not qualified for.

Clients Get Lower Procurement Costs and Vendors Spend Their Time Providing Advice Instead of Proposal-Writing

When qualifications are the focus, the “Hail Mary” proposals disappear. It becomes much easier for vendors to make better “go vs no go” decisions about an potential project therefore wasting fewer proposal writing dollars (which are always passed long to the clients eventually) and fewer client procurement dollars.

Clients Get Innovative Solutions and Vendors Get Better Projects

If price is even a small part of a selection process it forces vendors to propose based on the least viable interpretation of the project in order to try and be the cheapest vendor. This is an innovation killer and forces vendors to provide solutions of the lowest quality.

When pricing is part of an open discussion after a vendor has been selected, innovation flourishes and both the client and the vendor win.

Cover Picture QBS Book with OutlineUsing Qualifications Instead of Low Price to Buy Professional Services – Cal’s Newest Step-by-Step Manual is Out Now

Cal has estimated that in Canada alone almost $5 billion is wasted each year by architects, engineers, management consultants, lawyers and other professional services forced to write proposals in response to price-based RFPs.

His new book illustrates clearly how we can avoid that.

“Great breakfast speaker, @calharrisonca at the @Centrallia MB
@WTCWinnipeg event. #berelevant

The solution he offers is to avoid purchasing on price and shift to a Qualifications Based Selection process (QBS) like the one required by the Brooks Act in the United States.

Cal’s presentation is a must see for any organization – on either the buying or selling side of a professional services RFP – that wants to learn how they can help remove this waste from our economy while also reducing their direct RFP related expenses and getting better selection results – and ultimately better projects delivered – by using QBS processes.


 Click Here to Listen to Cal’s Interview with Dahlia Kurtz on CJOB regarding $5 Billion in RFP Waste

“Great session this morning with @calharrisonca”

For almost two decades Cal Harrison has been a speaker on the subject of buying and selling professional services, teaching consultants and their clients how to create better engagements by being more collaborative during the hiring process.

“One program that stuck with me was Cal Harrison’s presentation,
which really delivered a message of clarifying our businesses in a way
that is tangible and engaging. I took his challenge personally…”

– St. Pete Beach, Florida

About Cal Harrison

Dipl. Adv. Art, BA, MBA, CMC

From Spain to San Francisco, Cal Harrison has shared his advice on buying and selling professional services for almost two decades.

Cal founded Beyond Referrals to deliver sales, marketing and procurement advice specifically for the consulting professions and their clients. Cal is a regular speaker at conferences and conventions for professional services firms such as architecture, law, engineering financial services and consulting and is also an in-demand speaker for the procurement community – the institutional buyers of professional services.

He has been a speaker at the American Public Works Association national conference, the Purchasing Management Association of Canada (now SCMA) national conference, the Canadian Association of University Business Officers national conference and dozens more.

Cal Harrison Red TieThe Beyond Referrals methodology has been officially endorsed by the Institute of Management Consultants USA and his award-winning articles have been among the most downloaded in major consulting industry publications.

Harrison’s perspective is unique because he is constantly engaging with the sellers AND buyers of professional services to ensure that their perspective drives the sales, marketing and procurement processes he teaches around North America, the Caribbean and Europe.


“Cal – Great job!! Thanks so much for your participation.
Good crowd, good questions, good presentation.”

– St. Pete Beach, Florida

Other Books By Cal Harrison – The Consultant with Pink Hair

The Beyond Referrals professional services sales and marketing philosophy is now available in what has been described as “the perfect professional services marketing story”.

“What an inspiring talk by @calharrisonca”

The Consultant with Pink Hair published by Rockbench Publishing of Nashville, is available on Amazon and in select bookstores across North America. It debuted in 2012 on the best-seller list at McNally Robinson – Canada’s largest independent book store.

For over a decade Cal’s articles have been read by subscribers around the globe and are reprinted in publications such as CA Magazine (where his article A Decent Proposal won a Canadian Business Press Kenneth R. Wilson Memorial Award), Rain Today, Strategy Peak, Management Consulting News, and the Journal of The World Congress on Total Quality Management. On both occasions that his articles were reprinted by Rain Today they were named to their annual Top Five Most Downloaded list.


“I am able to understand immediately what I need to do
and how to do it to improve my business.
Thanks for an excellent source of information”

– Victoria, British Columbia


Cal is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a graduate of The University of Manitoba (MBA, BA), The University of Nevada at Reno (Executive Development Program), and Red River College (Diploma Advertising Art) and a long-time instructor at The University of Manitoba, The University of Winnipeg, and occasionally at Royal Roads University in Victoria British Columbia.

Cal has served on the Council of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Manitoba and continues to serve on other not-for-profit boards.

He was recently recognized for his outstanding service as a lecturer at The University of Manitoba.

“Excellent seminar on business development for consultants.”

– Vancouver, British Columbia

Speaking Topics for Buyers of Professional Services

  • Get Your Clients to Stop Using the RFP, One Qualifications Based Selection at A Time
  • Professional Services Procurement Metrics: Do You Know How Much Your RFP Is Really Costing You?
  • What The Vendors Want – And Don’t Want To See – In Your RFP For Professional Services
  • Getting More And Better Proposals From Your RFP For Professional Services

“Thank you Cal Harrison for presenting this so succinctly
through thoughtful storytelling.”

– Victoria, British Columbia

Speaking Topics on Sales and Marketing for Professional Services Firms

  • The Consultant with Pink Hair: Why Differentiation Doesn’t Matter – and What Really Does
  • Positioning Is Strategic Planning In A Professional Services Firm
  • Forget About Mission & Vision and Focus Your Firm On Market Position
  • Understanding Your Client’s Buying Behaviour

Select Previous Audiences

Government Finance Officers Association – Toronto, Ontario

American Public Works Association National Conference – Columbus, Ohio

Association Management Companies Institute – St. Pete Beach, Florida

Harvard Business School Alumni – Chicago, Illinois

Deusto University – San Sebastián, Spain

Caribbean Institute of Certified Management Consultants – Barbados, West Indies

Purchasing Management Association of Canada – Multiple Canadian Locations

Canadian Association of University Business Officers – Ottawa, Ontario

IMC Chicagoland Chapter – Chicago, Illinois

Canadian Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists – Ottawa, Ontario

Society of Telecommunications Consultants – St. Louis. Missouri

Audio Educators – Durham, North Carolina

Chicago Graduate School of Business Consulting Round Table – Chicago, Ill

IMC USA – Multiple United States Locations

Women in Consulting – San Francisco, California

Canadian Association of Management Consultants – Multiple Canadian Locations

University of New Mexico – Albuquerque, New Mexico


Bring Cal’s QBS Event to Your Association – Interactive, Practical, Funny, Valuable (and Easy)

Cal makes it easy for your association to host an event anywhere in North America to deliver a one-day or half-day seminar, or one hour speech, on using QBS instead of a low-price RFP when hiring professional services firms.

Simply contact Cal at or


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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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