Are you an OBM, VA or other online support professional who is looking for new clients?
Then allow me to give you a bit of “homework” – this is something that I ask of the gals in my Online Business Manager Mentorship program (if their business isn’t yet full.)
Respond to any RFP (request for proposal) that is appealing to you – with the intention of getting to have a conversation with the business owner to learn more and determine if there is a fit.
Just to clarify – an RFP is where a business owners submits their request for “help”, telling you what they need help with and giving you some insight as to their business, projects, budget and such. If you are a fit for what they need then you respond with your “proposal” letting them know how you could be a fit for their needs. There are some really great RFP services out there these days (like the one here at our OBM Association) – if you haven’t done so already be sure to join to be notified as new opportunities arise.
And yet I have to admit that i’m surprised when I see a great RFP come through our OBM Association website – and then hear from the business owner later on that they didn’t get any response. This happens alot more than you would think – what’s up with that? I KNOW there are members who are looking for new clients, and yet they aren’t responding?
I decided to dig a bit deeper and found a common theme among what was stopping people from applying:
“Tina, I’d love to apply for this but don’t have everything that they are looking for…”
If you’ve ever looked at an RFP and thought this allow me to give you a reframe. When a client submits their RFP it is essentially a “wish list” on their part – they may be listing anything and everything that they would love to have, BUT that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t settle for someone who has *most* of what they need.
I would put the 80/20 rule to work here – if you are interested in something and have 80% of what they need, then by all means apply! See the fact of the matter is that you won’t know for sure whether or not something is a fit for you until you get to have a conversation with the business owner – and you won’t get to have a conversation until you apply to the RFP. It is only in the conversation that you can really learn what they need, what is truly important to them and see if/how you can help.
As a business owner shared with me a while back (after not getting a response to her very detailed RFP):
“Tina, I don’t actually expect someone to be able to do all of this… but would love to hear where they can help me, and how they could help build the team to take care of the stuff they can’t”
Which is exactly part of the OBM role anyways right?
I also want you to keep in mind that sometimes the business owners who are submitting these RFPs don’t always know for sure what they need themselves. And so they put everything they can think of in an RFP. Again, a conversation here is vital as you can educate the business owner on how you can help, what you can (and cannot) do for them.
Remember that we are pioneers – I think sometimes we forget that not everyone knows what an OBM is (gasp!) So keep in mind that education may be necessary in this process, and could potentially lead to a really great client if you are willing to have that conversation.
Your Assignment: If you are looking for clients, proactively respond to all RFPs that could potentially be a good fit for you and your services. You won’t know for sure if it’s a fit (or not) until you have apply and have a conversation.