growing upI think we may have just grown up a little as a new communications agency.  Here’s the back story.  I would very much appreciate your thoughts.

Our company – Vehr Communications – started in early 2007.  Our focus is strategic communications and, although new and clearly in an “eat-what-you-kill” mode during our start-up, we want to be strategically engaged with our clients in figuring out how communications can help to address their business challenges and opportunities.

A week or so ago we received a Request for Proposal (RFP) from a prestigious non-profit with a great Board of Trustees and an important community mission.  We were up against some other local agencies.  Our competitive juices were flowing and we wanted to win.

As we dove into preparing our response to the RFP it became clear  to us, rightly or wrongly, that the prospective client was not really looking for a strategic partner, but a vendor to implement what they predetermined they wanted and needed. 

They sought quick answers – in about 3 weeks – to what we felt were very complex issues and the entire length of the engagement was 3 weeks.  They were clear there were prospects for additional work, but that was not a part of this RFP.

We felt in our heads and hearts that it was unwise for them to move so quickly.  We were not comfortable that the substantive advance work they had done and shared was as complete and comprehensive as was necessary to achieve the stated objectives for the program of work.

We decided to respond and we decided to tell them what we thought.  We said that their accelerated timeframe was not advisable and provided a timeframe that was still compressed but more realistic, from our perspective.

Of course, we didn’t get the account.  The money would have been great and I am certain the prospect for longer term work was real.  I am convinced, though, that we made the right decision. 

I told our team I was proud of them and the substantial work they put into the RFP response.  More importantly, I told them I was proud that we submitted what we thought was right. 

So, that’s the story.  Have you been through this professionally?  Any suggestions for a better way to deal with such situations going forward?  Should we have simply not responded and spent the time preparing the RFP response?

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