I’ve blogged extensively on how the industrialized arbitrage market is maturing rapidly. One of the many frustrating aspects of a maturing services market is that a dominant portion of procurements for larger opportunities come through RFPs. These RFPs require sophisticated and elaborate responses with large deal teams and solutioning teams working at the provider’s expense to create a compelling response. This cost is growing, and what’s worse is that it’s not unusual for providers to lose 66 percent of these costly bids.
In the large-deal segment, it’s not uncommon for service providers to spend $1 million – and in some cases as much as $10 million – to respond to the RFPs. These costs are often disseminated through the service provider and not easily recognized; they are borne by the individual delivery teams and therefore can creep up or grow unmonitored by the service provider. When viewed objectively, the costs amount to a substantial amount of money.
At Everest Group, we’ve done a significant amount of work on competitiveness and improving providers’ win rates. For world-class performers, the win rate is around 33 percent of their opportunities – which means that they lose 66 percent. Let’s take the low end of this range as an example. If it costs $2 million to respond to an RFP and solutioning for a winning bid, it costs $6 million for a deal the provider doesn’t win.
These unreimbursed “dead deal” costs are an increasing drag on providers’ profitability and are a significant contributor to service providers’ growing cost of sales.
The implications of this are very significant for service providers seeking to maintain their growth by bidding for larger transactions.
Here’s my question: Can the industry change this?
Yes, there are numerous solutions. One is for providers to pursue only the opportunities that they have a realistic chance of winning.
Here’s another question:
Can the industry shift away from these dead deal costs, instead giving solutioning free to the client in the RFP response?
Effectively, the provider would move to a more consultative structure in which the highest value is not given away in a free solution but is paid by the client in consulting services.
These are intriguing thoughts. This structure would be difficult to accomplish – but well worth the journey if it can be changed.