Now Online Panel Companies can DOUBLE their RFP Conversion RATE!!

online panelsOne of the BIGGEST challenge a client servicing manger faces on a daily basis – How to convert more RFP’s into WON projects! Although in this price driven market even few cents can make the difference. Winning a survey project is dependent on various Controllable & Non-controllable factors. A client servicing manager should fully understand these factors to better quote the RFPs. “Pro-activeness” is the central theme around which your quotation strategy should be based. “Speed” is what is going to give you a competitive edge. The article illustrates controllable and non-controllable factors affecting the RFP conversion rate.

Non-controllable factors:

1- Your client not winning the project – there isn’t much you can do if your client has not won the project.

But if it is happening on a regular basis with a particular client you NEED to find out through secondary means as to who is winning it.

Then you can approach that new potential client with your best proposal.

2- The project got scrapped – in this case you need to find out if it was due to non-feasibility of cost or deliverables.

Many a times the end clients shelve the project if it is too costly or if it is not possible to get the desired number of completes.

Every rejection needs to be carefully identified and studied – then the best practices should be incorporated at your end.

3- You are not capable to deliver the project requirements – it might happen sometime as the online medium has a restricted reach but if it happens too often with a client – you are in BIG Trouble as they might STOP sending the RFPs all together!!

Better increase your service suite as per the client requests.

4- Refusing RUSH JOBS – many a times I personally had faced research managers coming up with crazy deadlines – which are not possible – you should REFUSE all such requests – it is better to say NO than say SORRY!

But in case it happens often understand if operational capabilities need to be spruced up.

5- Someone else has won the project – this is the most dangerous trend – you losing out to your competition – although a client will never ever tell who finally got the project but you need to identify which factor/s were responsible for it.

Then you need to ensure that the issue has been addressed to.

Your team should HATE losing!!

Controllable factors:

1- Speed of quote submission: unfortunately engaging a data collection agency is the last activity performed by clients resulting in shortened time to submit your price.

As a thumb rule for a normal RFP request the turnaround time should not be more than 2 hours.

In case of a very complex RFP request 24 hours is the maximum you should take.

In case you are engaging another vendor to avoid delayed pricing it is better to have vendor’s price sheet for reference.

2- 24 X 7 coverage: especially for Asian companies it is MUST to have round the clock client servicing as the time zone is different from US/Europe from where majority of the RFP requests originates.

Working in different time zones will always result in delayed price submissions – in case you need to clarify something things from the client it will get delayed even further.

Time is MONEY – the more time you take to submit the cost the higher the chances of losing the project.

3- Incomplete RFP request: many times – especially in the case of Incidence Rate – it is not mentioned in the request.

Do not waste your time in sending back and forth mails to clarify things – simply based on assumption suggest 3-4 pricing model.

For e.g. in case of IR not being mentioned you can suggest cost based on 3-4 assumed IR:

If IR = 10% CPI = USD 13

If IR = 20% CPI = USD 8

If IR = 40% CPI = USD 3

This way you will avoid multiple communications – the lesser you talk to your client the more you are going to convert RFPs.

Ask queries in case it is impossible to quote without clarifying things.

4- Regular repetitive requests: in case your client is sending you the same category of requests it is better to create a customized rate card for them.

It will tremendously reduce the time to submit quotes for RFP.

5- Uni-directional dialogue: many a times you have the leverage to reduce cost but in case you are not engaging your client – your first cost will be assumed your last one.

Although showing too much flexibility has counterproductive effects – your clients should be aware of the fact that you can adjust cost to make it a winnable proposition.

When I was working as a client servicing manager – I ensured to have a such a cordial relationship with my clients that they can simply pick up the phone to call me and say “Akshay can you somehow give me CPI of USD 8 as this is my budgetary constrain” – this enabled me to work around my cost and win more projects.

The more comfortable your clients are with you the higher the rate of winning projects.

Building a relationship takes years but you are always going to reap rich dividends.

5 Golden Rules of client servicing:

1- Always be Proactive in your approach.

2- Never ever lie to your client about the feasibility.

3- Always provide best cost to your clients.

4- Be honest in your dealings.

5- Reach out to understand your client pain areas.

Applying these methods will surely increase your RFP conversion rate.

In case you have an interesting dimension to the article – I would be glad to receive your comments below.


  1. Great post. Our clients find that the number of repetitive/clarification requests drastically decreases with It is possible to standardize the communication process and make sure that everyone is on the same page without sending multiple emails and spreadsheet attachments. Using a web-based system makes this process easier for market research companies and panel providers. What tools do you currently use to track RFP/RFQ conversion rate?