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How managers can set their proposal teams up for success

How managers can set their proposal teams up for success

In 2019, 23.8% of the total workforce in the US was working from home, according to the US Labor Bureau […]


Category: Author: Ganesh Shankar

Ganesh Shankar is CEO and co-founder of RFPIO, the leading cloud-based response management platform. Together, with his co-founders, Ganesh has pioneered the most advanced technology for RFP responders, helping revenue teams respond to queries with maximum efficiency while creating higher quality responses and additional revenue opportunities. Connect with Ganesh on LinkedIn and Twitter.
How managers can set their proposal teams up for success

How managers can set their proposal teams up for success

In 2019, 23.8% of the total workforce in the US was working from home, according to the US Labor Bureau of Statistics. Although the Labor Bureau hasn’t released stats for 2020 yet, I think it’s safe to say that the percentage of remote workers will be significantly higher than 23.8%.

While the media published plenty of grim predictions about what the sudden shift to remote work could mean, the anticipated doom and gloom has yet to appear. In fact, the majority of Americans have embraced remote work with open arms—one recent survey found that 54% of Americans want to keep working remotely, even after offices can safely reopen.

As we all settle more comfortably into remote work, lots of managers are getting creative, looking for new ways to help their teams succeed when working from home. Once you figure out the right workflow for your team, remote work presents lots of opportunities for your team to grow and thrive.

A few weeks ago, I talked with Kevin Knopf, the Sr. VP of Marketing and Communications at Keenan & Associates. Before the imposed lockdowns, 95% of Kevin’s team was coming into the office every day. In one day, this percentage flipped on its head, where 100% of his team was suddenly working from home. As he navigated this new working environment, he learned three key things about setting his team up for success.

1) Make productivity a priority

The one thing Kevin knew for sure is that he needed to do everything in his power to make the transition as smooth as possible, while also keeping his team productive. He started by focusing on his people.

The first thing Kevin did was encourage his team to adjust their work schedules according to when they were most productive, instead of sticking to the regular 9 to 5 routine. This small change greatly boosted the team’s productivity and helped them to better serve their clients.

As a manager, it’s important to listen to your team members and understand what they really need. This might mean telling them to take tomorrow off when they’re stressed out. Or making sure they log off at their designated quitting time. Giving your team the chance to take some time off helps them recharge and to come back mentally refreshed, ready to do their best work.

It’s also important for managers to find ways to be flexible and go with the flow when unexpected things happen. Maybe your team member’s kids bounded into the room during a video call. Taking a moment to smile and greet them shows your team members that you care about them as people and spreads positive energy throughout the team.

2) Strengthen your response process

When you’re thinking about strengthening your response process, the first thing you should focus on his finding technology that works for your team. For Kevin, having a solution like RFPIO was mission-critical when it came to creating remote workflows.

RFPIO has made a huge difference, especially the project management features that enable them to set up tasks and checklists. In addition to helping them organize their RFPs and respond to them in record time, these checklists have helped team members keep track of each project.

While Kevin’s team had always valued technology’s role in the RFP response process, the transition to remote work encouraged them to further explore some of RFPIO’s features that make remote work easier, especially features that support collaboration and project management.

Another part of setting up remote-friendly workflows is finding an onboarding process that works. Kevin starts the onboarding process with a video series that gives new proposal managers a virtual tour of the RFPIO platform. Kevin also provides a PDF step-by-step manual that the managers can follow as they review the training videos.

This remote onboarding process has been hugely successful at Keenan & Associates, giving new team members a chance to quickly get comfortable with the platform.

3) Build connections with team members

Having a close-knit team that values cooperation and creative problem-solving is key for making remote work a success. And this process starts with establishing connections among team members.

Since positive teams are more productive teams, he stayed on the look-out for ways to bring his team closer together, even though they were no longer sharing a physical space. He set up an open Zoom meeting where team members were free to talk about life outside of work. He also organized different “theme days” on Fridays—one Friday, everyone showed up to the video call wearing their favorite tie-dyed shirt.

It’s also important to hold regular meetings at least once or twice a week to touch base and make sure everyone is on the same page. These meetings should cover each team member’s home life as well as their work life. Talk about what’s happening at home, and what non-work responsibilities they have to take on this week. Regular check-ins like these help team members to understand what’s going on in each other’s lives and helps bring them closer together.

Take your proposal team to the next level

Remote work is here to stay, which gives proposal teams plenty of opportunities to rise to the occasion and embrace innovation in the workplace. This is the perfect time to take advantage of technology solutions such as RFPIO to establish efficient RFP workflows that boost productivity whether working remotely or in the office.

Watch my full webinar, below, to learn more about how to take advantage of technology to best support your remote team. Or schedule a demo to learn about how RFP software can help your remote proposal team.

Why you need RFP automation  to advance your response process

Why you need RFP automation to advance your response process

RFP automation is causing a wonderful shift. Proposal management teams of yesteryear relied on antiquated processes when responding to RFPs. Valuable time was spent on repetitive tasks. Information and departmental silos kept teams from reaching their fullest revenue-generating potential as a collaborative unit.

I know what responding used to be like before RFP automation. I used to be a responder. As a product manager, I was a subject matter expert (SME) who regularly contributed to RFP responses. I spent 30% of my time responding to RFPs. There were many redundancies and inefficiencies, all of which impacted my ability to focus on my work.

Automated technologies have cropped up across every vertical, including proposal management. Before we only had manual processes. Now, with RFP automation, we have options and opportunities to advance the RFP response process.

RFP automation has transformed proposal management

Billions of years ago (in the late 2000s), marketing automation caused an important shift in email marketing. Automation allowed marketers to achieve more as a team and make a bigger impact on revenue.

Over the past few years, the proposal management industry experienced the same transformative effect with RFP automation.

Achieve more as a team

It’s a collective effort to respond to an RFP, with involvement from multiple departments—sales, marketing, legal, finance, product, compliance, IT—and the list goes on. Often (but not always) there is a dedicated proposal manager directing these projects to keep everyone moving toward the same target…a timely, quality RFP submission.

Let’s use the old product manager version of myself to create a “before and after RFP automation” scenario. In the olden days, an RFP would come in. My proposal manager assigned questions to me—the all too familiar questions I had answered many times before on other proposals.

I spent my time looking through folders and documents to copy and paste previous responses. By the time I did that, I had little time to ensure quality control. If my proposal manager had RFP automation, they would have used the answer library capabilities to populate the responses with relevant content. My involvement from there would consist of oversight, making sure the content was accurate and optimized.

Automation helps teams maximize resources and time being spent on RFPs. Time-savings with responding to RFPs allow team members to return to other high-priority tasks. Some of the organization’s most valuable and costly resources are involved in RFP responses. If an organization responds to 100 RFPs in a year, this really adds up.

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Make a bigger impact on revenue

Achieving more with RFP automation also means responding to more RFPs. 49% respond to less than 50 RFPs annually. Imagine the revenue impact these responders can make with technology like RFP software. Could they respond to 75 RFPs? How about 100+?

Without automation, response management teams can only dream of increasing RFP submissions. They respond to RFPs in a reactive state, which, of course, is not the way to produce a quality deliverable for the prospect.

Saving time through efficient processes turns into extra hours to consider viable business opportunities—perhaps even breaking into new markets. RFP automation gives your team the space to establish a proactive process, where technology handles much of the heavy lifting. Team members are brought in to use their strengths to strengthen the content—and the chances of winning the deal.

A consolidated solution for RFP management

When we set out to build a consolidated (and better) solution for RFP management back in 2015, over and over we heard that responders wanted a platform that would help them improve collaboration and automate workflows.

A few RFP management solutions existed, but they were not easy to use. And these solutions didn’t integrate with systems teams were already using across their organization—CRMs like Salesforce, communication tools like Slack, or cloud storage like Google Drive.

2019 martech supergraphic

Every year an updated version of the Martech Supergraphic releases. It was nicknamed the “Martech 5000,” which is now a misnomer. The 2019 edition included 7,040 solutions in the marketing technology landscape.

Organizations of all sizes are managing so much technology—all the more reason to select a robust platform that meets specific business needs and scales with the business. RFPIO is a consolidated RFP management solution that advances the response process through…

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way we all work, including how proposal management teams “shred” their RFPs. It’s easier to break up relevant sections, auto-identify response content, and assign questions to subject matter experts.

Integrations

Our integrations keep all team members working in their preferred tools. Salespeople don’t want to leave their CRM to respond to RFPs and they no longer have to. SMEs are unreachable by email, but they’ll engage through Slack.

Content management

The answer library is the content management hub—not only for RFPs, but for all company information. Anyone has access to the latest and greatest content, which can be easily searched, selected, and inserted into a variety of business documents…even emails.

All responders have stories to share. Do you want to tell your organization’s story with a disappointing ending…or a happy ending? When you find a consolidated solution for RFP management, you’ll automate, improve—and ultimately—advance your RFP response process.

What response management software can do for your revenue team

What response management software can do for your revenue team

Since we started RFPIO, we have been on a mission to help RFP responders succeed. We have been a leader in this relatively new technological space, one of the first to bring efficiency to responders who had lived with a manual approach to everyday business.

As we move into a new year, we are redefining the way our solution supports everyone across the organization. Though our origins are rooted in helping teams respond to RFPs, what we began to notice along the way was the many use cases for our software.

To support you and your revenue team, let’s look at the vast potential of response management software like RFPIO. You’ll walk away with a more strategic approach to response management.

What is response management software (RMS)?

Response Management Software (RMS), helps companies create, manage, and automate responses to both long-form and short-form business inquiries at any stage of the sales cycle. These inquiries can range from formal business requests issued by buyers such as RFPs and Security Questionnaires, to informal questions submitted by prospects through chatbots or from customers through support tickets.

Response Management Software serves as an internal knowledgebase, integrating with CRMs, Content Management Systems (CMS), and Collaboration tools to capture and democratize subject-matter-expertise and content across multiple teams, business units, or companies.

RFPIO is the leading solution in response management, having pioneered the most advanced technology for RFP responders over the past several years. With process and technology improvements, responders are able to create higher quality responses and additional revenue opportunities.

RFP software vs. response management software

RFP software is fairly one dimensional in that responding to RFPs is the primary use case. With response management software, the technology supports many use cases. Content can be repurposed for responding to a multitude of business queries—RFx (RFP, RFI, etc.), statements of work (SOW), security questionnaires, CAIQ and grants.

In addition, organizations who think outside the box use our solution to store anything from sales follow-up email templates to onboarding materials. Content is engrained in all of our business processes. Response management software helps you organize, store, and execute from a single source of truth.

A response management software like RFPIO:

  • Is cloud-based, so you don’t have to navigate a maze of documents and folders—and find ways to store your content.
  • Uses patented import technology and exports back into templates and originals files to start and finish each project smoothly.
  • Includes a dynamic answer library, which serves as the hub for all of your organization’s content and company information.
  • Has an AI-powered content recommendation engine that makes finding your best responses easier.
  • Offers bi-directional integrations with your team’s favorite technologies, along with an open API, so everyone and everything is connected.
  • Allows you to search, select, and store answer library content across all web pages and applications through a Google Chrome extension called RFPIO Lookup.
  • Brings clear and instant visibility with reports and dashboards that help you track project status and progress and discover insights to make data-driven decisions.
  • Helps you respond to ANY type of query faster.

Let’s say you are a sales manager at an enterprise technology company with a high stakes deal on the table. The prospect you’ve been working with sends you a large security questionnaire, along with a DDQ (Due Diligence Questionnaire) that you must turn around by the end of the week.

Resources are spread very thin right now. You must complete the majority of the questionnaire on your own and engage subject matter experts (SMEs) sparingly. You have several new deals in the works that require your constant attention. You’re not sure how you’ll pull this DDQ and security questionnaire off before the deadline while keeping other opportunities on the right track.

Response management software allows you to manage multiple queries at once. You can handle the entire family of possible requests during the sales process—the RFP (Request for Proposal), RFI (Request for Information), or DDQ (Due Diligence Questionnaire).

For the security questionnaire, use bulk answering to knock out sections at a time then call in your SME to fill in gaps and sign off. While all of this deal is in motion, you continue to nurture other prospects using RFPIO’s answer library to populate follow-up emails with relevant communication and high-performing sales content.

You submit everything with time to spare and keep moving other deals forward. That’s the difference between response management software and RFP software. This technology supports you throughout every stage of the deal. And, it’s there whenever you need support for other business queries that come up.

Strategic response management across revenue teams

Today’s revenue team isn’t the sales team alone. Revenue teams include sales, marketing, support, and customer success. To improve response management across revenue teams, it is equal parts process and technology.

Creating a great process is always step one. What we find is that even with the best technology, teams need to be united by a strategy in order to maximize the features and capabilities of the very technology their organization invests in. We recently created a user adoption strategy to help.

If you are leading the charge with user adoption, it’s important to know the benefits of the software and how one solution can be used in multiple scenarios and initiatives. Below we have outlined the many use cases of our response management solution.

This breakdown will help you understand the diverse capabilities of RFPIO. If you are an existing client, you will find new ways of using the solution. If you are searching for a comprehensive content management platform, you will see the many possibilities that will exceed your organization’s response and query needs.

RFx

RFPIO can be used for any RFx project. This includes an RFP (request for proposal), RFI (Request for Information), RFQ (Request for Quote), or a DDQ (Due Diligence Questionnaire). Some or all of these RFx documents come and go throughout the sales process.

Our response management solution allows you to respond to any of these documents in a collaborative ecosystem, making the process easier and efficient for your organization’s many contributors.

Security Questionnaires

A security questionnaire comes in many forms – Security Questionnaires Lite (Standardized Information Gathering Questionnaires), VSAQ (Vendor Security Assessment Questionnaire), CAIQ (Consensus Assessments Initiative Questionnaire), and VSA (Vendor Security Alliance Questionnaire), NIST 800-171 (National Institute of Standards and Technology Questionnaire
CIS Controls).

One thing they all have in common? They are complex and time-consuming, without the right tools.

RFPIO greatly reduces completion time for buys teams, with auto-response and bulk answering doing the majority of the work upfront. This extra time allows teams to perform their due diligence with accurate responses that meet the issuer’s requirements.

After the responses are ready, teams export responses back into the original sources with clean data, eliminating the need to wrestle with editing and formatting.

Marketing Content

Often marketing teams think their involvement with response management software is limited to the RFx process. They come in at the end to perform a buff and polish, to prepare the deliverable.

Because RFPIO is a content management platform at its core, marketing teams can use the solution to store and create content, such as—brand guidelines, testimonials, press releases, and award submissions.

SOWs

To present the scope for a highly complex project, response management software is extremely useful for SOWs. Rather than using various documents and spreadsheets to piecemeal sections together, section templates offer standard content that can be reused and customized.

From content creation to the review process, the SOW workflow is easier when everyone has one tool to operate inside.

Grants

Time is money for any business, especially a non-profit who needs to stretch their budget and resources. With grant writing, teams strengthen their content by using the answer library to search and select the latest stats and financials.

Often sign-off from an executive or board of directors is needed with grants, and sequential reviewing clarifies the chain-of-command throughout this completion process.

Onboarding

RFPIO allows unlimited users, promoting wide-scale adoption throughout various departments, including human resources, support, and customer success teams. Because very little training is required, all teams can jump into the tool and customize it for their needs.

Organizations often use the solution to support their hiring efforts, as the content repository simplifies the constant need to add and update onboarding content. The same applies to support and customer success team members who need to be quickly brought up to speed.

Discovery Calls

Since RFPIO offers a single source of truth, sales teams lean on the power of the answer library every day for many other tasks outside of responding to RFx documents. An SDR can keep RFPIO open on his or her computer screen during discovery calls to find any company or product information immediately.

This ability makes sales teams nimble and confident during the discovery process. The prospect leaves the call informed and interested.

Proactive Proposals

To sell within a highly competitive industry, sales teams will sometimes turn to proactive proposals to beat their competition to the punch. Minimal effort is needed to pull together a proactive proposal within our response management solution.

Sales teams use the top content feature to select the best responses, then export everything into a branded, cleanly formatted template.

Sales Emails

The need for speed is perhaps the motto for any salesperson completing sales-related tasks. RFPIO Lookup recommends email content to help sales teams answer prospect questions.

When using a Google Chrome browser, this feature allows sales to access responses across web pages and applications. They grab the information they need and include it within the email, without losing time to hunt down the answer.

Knowledge Sharing

It would behoove us not to mention knowledge sharing as a whole. RFPIO’s answer library serves as the single source of truth for the entire revenue team: sales, marketing, support, and customer success.

Information silos disrupt your response workflow. Foundational company knowledge ends up in a variety of documents, from visual slide decks to data-heavy spreadsheets—stored on shared drives and folders. Rather than team members feeling they can’t access the information they need, RFPIO makes all necessary content available and ready so everyone can do their best work.

I always like to say: “Recycle, reuse, don’t reinvent.” Response management software allows you to put this mantra into action, so your organization spends more time on refinement and less time on repetition. With this advancement in your response process, your team will produce quality content that results in opportunities, revenue, alignment, and teamwork.

Start your year off with a strategic approach to response management. Schedule a demo of RFPIO.

Bid proposal software will transform your response process

Bid proposal software will transform your response process

The proposal climate is looking strong overall, as shown in the most recent APMP U.S. Benchmarks Report. Three-quarters of proposal professionals positively rated their organization’s performance in winning new business and expressed great satisfaction in regards to internal processes.

Bid proposal software is absolutely cultivating the well-being and success of today’s response management teams. Processes have been transformed by technologically advanced, collaborative work environments. And, we’re only beginning to scratch the surface.

5 transformative effects of bid proposal software

1. Project Management

When a proposal comes in, it seems like an ordinary business document. But this document contains a world of information, from timeline to scope. Your organization must stop seeing a proposal as a document and manage every proposal as its own RFP project. This mindset applies to any response management team, especially a team at an enterprise organization.

There is always a deadline looming. You have a small window to ask for clarifications—and important milestones to hit. RFPIO is a complete project management application, supporting your team of RFP responders from the time you receive a proposal to the time you submit.

“We had a smaller team last year, so we had to stop answering RFPs and focus on answering security questionnaires. We turned RFPIO on the day after Memorial Day, and since then we’ve worked on 129 projects.” – Elizabeth Duke, Director of Presales Support

2. Content Management

Because of the repetitive nature of proposals, content becomes sporadic with RFP responses stored all over the place. Using a combination of Google Docs or SharePoint does not mean your content is updated and accurate. You need an RFP content management system.

RFPIO workflows help your proposal team manage proposal content and keep responses up-to-date. No longer does Sales ask multiple SMEs to complete RFP responses in the eleventh hour.

Instead, RFPIO’s content review workflow allows the SMEs to review the content on a periodic basis defined by your content managers. This is outside of an RFP. Which means all the content is reviewed and approved by the SMEs beforehand, allowing proposal teams and sales teams to use accurate content that is needed to win the deal.

“Since I onboarded, RFPIO has saved my life. Before we didn’t have a tool at all, so I was manually searching through old RFPs that were stored on SharePoint. And now it’s cut our response time down by at least 50 percent.” – Alison Moeller, Team Lead – RFP & Sales Enablement

3. Collaboration

It truly takes a village to complete a proposal. One of our clients, a massive enterprise organization, involves forty different teams to complete RFPs. Perhaps you can relate. Even if one person is on each team, that means forty people must figure out a way to work together in a cohesive manner.

Teamwork is an integral component of a successful RFP response process, which is why RFPIO was built to foster highly collaborative work environments. The ability to have unlimited users within the platform makes it possible for substantial teams to complete substantial proposals with greater efficiency.

“RFPIO saved us from having to hire a new headcount by taking away a lot of the effort we used to put into coordinating RFPs. It allows us to get input from our subject matter experts faster and put together better quality proposals.” – Anthony Rossi, Sales Operations Specialist

4. Integrations

Proposal teams must communicate…and so must technology solutions. Bid proposal software should help your team communicate with each other inside and outside the platform. Additionally, your team should have full visibility and accessibility.

RFPIO is a system that integrates with your existing technology and content ecosystem. Store content in your favorite cloud storage solution (Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Box, Sharepoint). Collaborate easily through Slack or Microsoft Teams. Align your sales teams with CRM integrations (Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals).

“RFPIO really has shifted the entire perception of our company in terms of how we gather content, what we do with that content, how we’re managing it, and really, the entire process of perceiving how RFPs should be responded to.” – Lori Coffae, Content Writer

5. Business Intelligence and Analytics

In most cases, only the person submitting the RFP knows why their RFP was selected or skipped. A lost RFP is always a black box, as SMEs and writers will never receive feedback on why the RFP was lost.

Visibility into the RFP response process is much easier with a response management platform like RFPIO. RFPIO has business intelligence and analytics, so you see the gaps and opportunities then take the necessary measures to improve.

RFPIO provides a detailed win/loss analysis that can be shared with contributors and executives. With trend analysis, RFPIO allows proposal managers to clearly estimate and predict the time it requires to complete various kinds of RFx documents.

Insights into capacity planning are available as well. Proposal managers and executives see the current workload of contributors and know exactly when it’s time to hire additional resources.

“I have been working in this space for about a decade and I’ve used a couple of different tools. RFPIO shows their commitment and innovation to those of us who are really in the weeds of the RFP world.” – Alexandra Maddux, RFP/Sales Support Coordinator

Teams at LinkedIn, Adobe, and Visa have transformed their response process with RFPIO. Take the next step to transform yours.

RFPIO headquarters outgrows office in under a year

RFPIO headquarters outgrows office in under a year

Just a year ago this week, we made the announcement that RFPIO headquarters had moved into a larger office to make room for growth. Well, surprise! We did it again, after only 11 months. This will be the sixth HQ space. As I write this, I’m proud to announce that we are also moving our Coimbatore office into its third new space. Hello from India!

Sometimes people ask me if I had expected the company to grow this quickly. I may not have been able to see the future, but I always knew our product and our people would be successful. It’s no surprise to my team that my expectations are high, and they’ve consistently impressed me with their responses to the all the challenges that come with growing a company.

In the blog about last year’s move, we asked all the HQ employees what they thought of the new space. We couldn’t do that this year, or it would have been way too long. Instead, I want to talk about some of what’s changed and what hasn’t, and what you can expect from us in the future.

Holy Smoke RFPIO

Our India team observing the Holy Smoke ritual before officially moving in

How RFPIO has changed

Office Space
This new HQ office more than doubles our last space, giving us the room to accommodate almost three times as many people. We are already taking to it like fish to a fishbowl, and made a new hire in just the two weeks we’ve been here.

Now we are getting settled in to our new workspaces, taking in the magnificent Oregon views (a new benefit—lots of windows and outdoor space), and enjoying the extra room to stretch our legs. We’ve also upgraded some amenities. In the last office we were excited about having a sink and a full-sized fridge. Now we finally have a dishwasher. For a startup, these conveniences mean a lot!

Customers
Our user list has grown massively over the last year, in both volume and company size. We’re now at over 25,000 users on the platform and we’ve signed on Fortune 500 enterprise clients like Google, Visa, Salesforce, and Adobe. We recently announced a multi-year partnership with Express Scripts, one of Fortune’s top 25, and a major player in the healthcare industry.

Just this week we attended RSA 2019 to spread the word of our response management platform for security questionnaires and similar business requests. One of the things we were proud to share with conference-goers was our newly announced SOC 2 certification. This was a rigorous process that ultimately ensures our commitment to security for all of our customers.

Former Office RFPIO

We had to get creative about workspaces before the move

More change

Growth: Team and Revenue
In July of 2018 we announced our partnership with K1 Investment Management for a $25M round of funding. This strategic partnership has helped us scale the company wisely, while increasing our revenue ahead of schedule, keeping us in a strong financial standing. Our projections for growth have us more than doubling our revenue and current staff count by the end of 2019.

Honors and Distinctions
We know we’re a great company, but outside validation assures us that we’re on the right track. This year, RFPIO was named one of Oregon’s Top 10 Best Tech Startups, in good company with several local peers. We were given the distinction of market leader on G2 Crowd’s Best RFP Software grid, and have received almost 100 unbiased reviews on G2 Crowd and Capterra from our amazing customers.

RFPIO_James and Stephen

James and Stephen enjoying the view

How RFPIO has stayed the same

Customer support
We’ve added team members to all of our teams, which means that we can offer more to our customers than even before. The product is being innovated upon more rapidly, our internal processes have gotten tighter, and we offer more support services for all types of companies. Everything we do is in service to our customers and their needs.

Employee-focused culture
Much like our focus on customers, our employees make this company what it is. We still do quarterly philanthropy events, holiday parties, and team outings. Our benefit package has gotten more substantial. As a commitment to transparency we’ve implemented a monthly all-hands meeting and we’ve started a new lunch & learn program to keep everybody up to date on product news.

Convenience
Our new HQ office is located in the neighboring building to our former office. This means we are still in the heart of downtown Beaverton, which connects many public transportation options and major highways. We’d grown accustomed to our proximity to the neighborhood food carts, so our walkable lunch options remain close by.

New RFPIO Office_Hakeem

Hakeem getting settled in to his new space

The future of RFPIO

As I said before, I’m not sure exactly what the future holds, but I am confident that by this time next year we will be a bigger, stronger company with even more to offer. With teams across the U.S. and in India, we are innovating around the clock.

I’m so proud of what our technical, support, and revenue teams have built and introduced to the market. I’ve been humbled to hear customers say that we’ve brought them relief and have given them more time with their families—that’s the best compliment I can receive.

This new office marks a new chapter in RFPIO’s history, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. As I often say, folks, this is just the beginning!

If you’re in the area and would like to drop in, we would love to see you. The new RFPIO headquarters office is located at:

RFPIO, Inc.
4145 SW Watson Ave. #450
Beaverton, OR 97005

How to cure your longstanding RFP headaches

How to cure your longstanding RFP headaches

From Selling Power, by Ganesh Shankar

In a recent survey of sales professionals, we found that a staggering 84 percent of companies are still using manual processes for RFP responses.

The reality is, the burden on internal resources can increase quickly when you take on an RFP. If gathering critical answers for your RFP response is more about begging for help rather than tapping into an efficient flow of information, it may be time to take a hard look at your RFP processes.

The problem with manual-based processes often comes down to an inability to make effective use of previous answers. Files are spread across disjointed and disconnected systems. Even when they are organized, manually hunting through thousands and thousands of answers quickly becomes an exercise in frustration.

Finding answers to common RFP questions

Odds are, many questions included in RFPs have already been asked countless times. Being able to find and reuse quality, up-to-date content can relieve quite a burden on key stakeholders, as they won’t have to spend cycles researching and answering repetitive questions. Ideally, when you come to them for help, you already have relevant answers in hand for them to quickly review and refine.

One company that upgraded from their manual RFP processes was MasterControl, a supplier of quality and compliance-control software in a highly competitive market involving many RFP and security questionnaire responses. To stay ahead of the curve, MasterControl decided the time had come to devise a faster and more efficient RFP process. The firm started by assigning the task of evaluating the proposal response processes to an analytically-minded sales operations professional.

His research showed it took the company 32 hours, on average, to complete an RFP response. In 2017 alone, the company answered more than 100 RFPs, at an estimated total cost of $3,200 each – a more than $300,000 hit to the bottom line. The actual cost across the entire organization was likely much higher.

After evaluating a range of alternatives, MasterControl turned to cloud-based response management software that incorporates a centralized answer repository combined with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. When responding to imported RFP questions, the AI tool automatically populates the best-fit response directly from an answer library. By typing one or two keywords into the search bar, potential answers instantly populate – saving time manually hunting through thousands of documents and answers.

Through using such a response management platform, MasterControl was able to reduce required staff cycles when responding to RFPs by an impressive 40 percent. Additionally, as resource costs decreased, the company was able to free up budget and staff time for other business initiatives.

Although cloud-based response management technology is still emerging as a product segment, a growing number of companies like MasterControl are finding that it allows them to reduce their RFP response times and increase efficiencies. What’s more, using an adaptive learning engine means that, as companies respond to RFPs, their answer library grows in scope and scale. With more content and scenarios on tap, recommendations become more precise and the RFP response process becomes that much more efficient. The response solution can also support other aspects of the business, such as completing lengthy security questionnaires.

Each year, some part of your revenue may come from how well you respond to RFPs. That means it’s worth your while to find ways to explore technology solutions that can help you improve your chances of winning new business while also lowering costs related to producing RFPs.

Using the RFP process to improve content effectiveness

Using the RFP process to improve content effectiveness

Our latest for The Marketing Scope, by: Ganesh Shankar (RFPIO) and Lori Coffae (SHI, International)

Do you develop content once and then walk away forever? Are your customer needs exactly the same from year to year? In your dreams maybe, but in reality, we all know those are ridiculous questions to even ask. As a marketer, you know your company’s content is never static. It gets developed, reworked, and revised constantly. Content requires attention, consideration and testing. It’s no simple task to stay on top of steady change and making sure that you are improving your content effectiveness as well as keeping sales teams up to date.

For many companies, the intersection where marketing content meets the field organization is the request for proposal, or the RFP. If you work in a company that responds to a large number of RFPs, one surprisingly effective way to curate, manage and share content – one that is often overlooked – is through this very process: the RFP response.

The RFP response process can give marketers a chance to gain valuable feedback from your most important audience – your potential customers – on the impact of the company’s content. Sound like a stretch? Today, proposal managers (professionals who own the RFP response process for a company) gain deep insight into the content that leads someone to action compared with content that doesn’t initiate any type of result. Put simply, marketers can use the RFP process to improve content effectiveness.

Taking advantage

The RFP process can help create cohesion to your content across a variety of elements like voice, message development, and tone. When content is moved to a centralized answer library, you can start to compare and assess content effectiveness based on what really matters – win rates. This assessment is enabled through the use of response management software with an intelligent, centralized answer library. With such a system in place, marketing and sales teams can begin to learn the effectiveness of various messages with different types of customers, helping shape future responses in unexpected ways.

Marketers can use the RFP process to ensure that sales teams are armed with the latest answers – even technical content – reducing the need to call a scarce resource like a technical expert every time.

When integrated into sales tools like Slack or Salesforce, an answer library becomes a single source of truth for responses to customers. Having a repository of content to address specific questions becomes an increasingly valuable asset over time. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel every time your company responds to an RFP or launches a new email marketing campaign, they can go into the content repository to tap into the strength of your most powerful content.

In addition, marketing leaders can cultivate accountability, ownership and responsibility for teams owning the content. Marketers can assign someone on the team to be a reviewer of a particular piece of the content. This way, the rest of the team has visibility into who added or edited the content, changes that were made and when. With a good content library, you’ll see who is working on what content, and you can assign a moderator to ensure facts are facts and company branding is on point.

Take measure

A good first step is to set aside a few hours to review all of the materials in your content library. Why? Because identifying and using your best content will improve your chances of winning RFPs. But for marketers, the key is understanding the nuances of how content resonates with target audiences. A good rule of thumb is to do a content audit at least once a year to keep your content fresh and increase content effectiveness.

Marketing owns a company’s brand and the key messages that can be delivered through a variety of channels including the website, social media, white papers, case studies, YouTube, public relations and email campaigns. Once you have a better idea of which content is valuable, you’ll be in a much better position to update your content library so that everyone in the company is able to provide consistent messages to your audiences.

When you review your content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the content address your customer’s business challenges?
  • Is the value that your company’s products or services offer coming across clearly?
  • Does the content read well? Does it tell a cohesive story?
  • Is the tone of the content consistent throughout all of your marketing materials?
  • Has the content performed well in RFPs over the past year? How much interest has there been?

Final thoughts: It’s like gardening

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, content is never static. It requires attention, consideration, and cultivation. It’s like being a gardener where your content answer library acts as your greenhouse, housing your content, keeping it protected from the elements, and providing it a fertile environment in which to grow. By thinking about your precious content like a garden, you’re being sensitive to its environment – what grows in Florida doesn’t work in upstate New York.

While the RFP team may reach out to the leaders of the marketing department to participate in an RFP, marketing executives should also see the opportunity that an RFP presents to fine-tune marketing content and messaging and increase content effectiveness.

Looking forward after securing $25 million in series A funding

Looking forward after securing $25 million in series A funding

Closing Series A funding is a big deal for any company. Which is why I am proud and happy to announce that RFPIO is beginning a thrilling new chapter. We have secured $25 million from K1 Investment Management (K1), so that we can further revolutionize the proposal management industry.

Did I ever think RFPIO would grow to this point? The answer is yes.

Even when I was running demos by myself in our first office, an 84-square-foot closet, I had no doubt that we would become such a compelling force. I recognized the growth potential in every team member who drove our mission forward and every client who was positively impacted by our dedication.

As I look back at the mere 18 months of our company’s existence, I am very grateful. As I look at the road ahead, I’m excited to see RFPIO’s growth story truly unfold.

Growth highlights from an unforgettable first 18 months

It’s hard to believe that this great journey with RFPIO began 18 months ago, with only four of us: AJ Sunder as CIO, Sankar Lagudu as COO, Manish Bafna as VP of Technology, and myself as CEO.

Every workweek was a learning experience for us, and there were many memorable “firsts” that got us to where we are today…

The first paying customer

After running a successful beta program for six months, we won our first paying customer, Stephen Marsh from Smarsh. Stephen was so impressed by RFPIO’s ease of use and intelligent capabilities that he decided to sign on and invest in our company through Archivist Capital. It was the best validation we could have asked for. Today we have hundreds of happy customers.

The first employees

It gave us immense pride when we hired Mitchell Hipp as Senior Account Executive at our Beaverton headquarters, and Emmanuel Rajayah as Senior UI Developer at our Coimbatore office in India. This was the first time people put their trust in our leadership team. We have not lost a single employee since we started RFPIO.

rfpio team's funding celebration

The first Fortune 500 company

Signing a Fortune 500 company made our team feel like we could conquer the world. LinkedIn was the first enterprise company to use RFPIO, and many others have followed: Google, Adobe, Atlassian, Change Healthcare, ServiceNow, Siemens, Tenable, Zoom Video.

The first 1,000 users

The day we realized RFPIO had 1,000 users was just cause for celebration. Our users feedback has helped shape and strengthen RFPIO’s platform and that will carry on as we reach unexplored heights. Now we have more than 12,000 users.

Series A funding: The ingredient we needed to scale

While the Seed round of funding through Elevate Capital was primarily focused on building a strong foundation, this Series A round will be more of a strategic partnership for our organization’s next big leap.

Our new investor, K1 Investment Management, is completely dedicated to funding and supporting SaaS companies. The K1 team uses RFPIO for managing their own RFP responses—early on, they believed in RFPIO’s mission and wanted to help us succeed. We were drawn to their expertise in the software industry, so it was a natural partnership. This Series A funding will allows us to make an even bigger impact.

We are looking at scaling the entire business, to include not just revenue and customer base growth but company expansion as well. As the India and Beaverton teams grow, our focus will be on establishing a solid middle management team. Global expansion is happening as well, and we are looking at options for another RFPIO office where our second largest customer base is located in Europe.

RFPIO is already the first artificial intelligence (AI) enabled solution in our industry, and we have dramatically improved the way organizations respond to RFPs. Being able to invest heavily on the product side will allow us to enhance our technology, then move into offerings in adjacent areas of proposal management. This funding gives our product more horsepower to fuel our customer’s goals and aspirations.

We’re just getting started

As we enter this new world of growth and expansion, we remain loyal to our people. The key to RFPIO’s success is the team standing proudly behind us. Every one of us is driven by passion for our product and our clients. The positive vibes we have in our office speak through our technology and service.

We are an intrepid team. Everyone here is invested in RFPIO’s success.

Read more about RFPIO’s $25 million funding announcement on:

The Wall Street Journal

The Oregonian

Fortune

Portland Business Journal

GeekWire

4 positive effects that happen when you respond to RFPs

4 positive effects that happen when you respond to RFPs

A lot of companies stay away from RFPs. A lot of people think RFPs are a waste of time. However, those who consistently prioritize and pursue RFPs are successful organizations seeing positive effects.

RFP response often bears a negative feeling for teams, but it certainly doesn’t have to. A new perspective coupled with technology are necessary if you are ready to make changes that will benefit your organization.

An RFP isn’t bad—far from it, in fact. It is a great opportunity for your company if you have the right tools. These are a few of the positive effects RFPIO’s clients have experienced—and you can too, once you see RFP response in a different light.

Responding to RFPs creates more opportunities

When an RFP arrives in your inbox, it’s a business opportunity. If your team doesn’t participate in RFPs, you risk losing the opportunity to the organization that goes after it. Let’s say you are participating consistently in RFPs. Are you putting your best foot forward to win? Or, are you going through the motions just to get the RFP project out the door?

As with any pursuit, competition can be fierce. The only way to see the positive effect with opportunities is to outshine your competitors with the quality of your submission.

The goal with every submitted RFP is to make your organization stand out as the obvious partner. Everything from the executive summary to key differentiators should be carefully crafted and tailored for your prospect.

Boilerplate content won’t win anyone over. Think about the last time you received anything automated and impersonal, even if it’s an email. You likely already forgot that company, or you ignored the email and never saw the message.

This is where RFP software comes in to help teams leverage technology for a stronger deliverable. Your answer library stores all of your company information in Q&A pairs, so you can quickly search for responses in one place—not fifty places—such as folders, emails, and spreadsheets.

Tags make searching easier for your team and star rating influences the recommendation engine to highlight the best responses. After repurposing this content through the answer library, you can customize the response for the individual prospect to impress them. Use any sales intelligence to make your content relevant, and have marketing do the final polish for readability, brand alignment, and engagement.

Responding to RFPs revitalizes internal knowledge

Company information changes constantly, whether you have a team of 50 or 50,000. A product company will have new features, technical specs, and updates, while a government organization will have security and compliance standards to maintain.

Staying on top of the latest internal knowledge is critical for anyone at an organization who is involved in responding to RFPs. When companies rely on a manual approach, responses often end up buried in a spreadsheet without being updated consistently. Outdated content works against the end goal of any RFP…to win business.

RFP software includes an answer library to centralize your company’s internal knowledge base, making the information easily accessible the next time an RFP, security questionnaire, or unsolicited proposal come up.

Regular content audits ensure the most updated responses are front and center. With RFPIO, you can set up alerts to help admins remember to comb through the answer library, to clean up the content and make pertinent updates.

Having this knowledge repository goes far beyond an RFP response project for your sales team. If you’re just selling on your own path, having this wealth of information handy refreshes company knowledge, security policies, and processes at a glance.

Frontline salespeople are using RFPIO to answer technical or product questions on sales calls. They don’t need to tell the prospect to hold on while they try to find the information—or say they need to follow up or have someone get back to them. Many sales teams, including our own, leave the answer library on the screen during the sales call to share information that bolsters the conversation.

manage rfps

Responding to RFPs generates more revenue

The reason any organization responds to RFPs is in the hopes of generating more revenue. But, companies turn away from RFPs because of the time commitment they don’t want to invest for a potentially low win rate.

This is an understandable challenge for companies. The thing they all have in common is they are still working with a manual RFP response process. In our RFP response habits survey, we learned that only 16% of organizations are using RFP software.

We have seen companies using RFPIO cut their response time in half. The time-savings is experienced companywide—from the SMEs taking time out of their day to contribute information to the proposal manager wrangling with a needlessly difficult import and export process.

Being able to save time allows teams to prioritize other high-priority tasks, but also to respond to more RFPs. Without automating repetitive tasks, a team can only take on so many RFP projects. When the majority of the responses are populated by intelligent technology, that speeds up the process exponentially.

Win rates are also positively impacted with RFP software—the Smarsh team reported a significant win rate increase with RFPIO. How? More time can be spent polishing the deliverable, so you submit a winning response. When your team isn’t rushing, they can focus on the quality.

“Our company’s sales team uses RFPIO because it saves us a significant amount of time on RFP projects and, giving us the opportunity to participate in more RFPs with higher quality responses that ultimately help us win more business,” said Stephen Marsh.

Listen to the podcast to find out how Smarsh wins more deals.

Responding to RFPs brings teams closer together

Every RFP is a team effort, requiring expertise and strategy from diverse groups inside an organization. Marketing and sales, IT and product management—teams who work together in an office, and those who work in global locations.

Silos happen, especially with information. These information silos can bring the RFP response process to a standstill. Information might be exchanged well within departments, but an RFP project pushes these boundaries so that teams must work together effectively.

A centralized answer library is a key piece of the collaboration puzzle. Teams using RFP software will have an easier time accessing the right information, whether they are on opposite sides of a building or a map.

Communication is another area that proves challenging during the RFP response process. Again, this goes back to a manual process. Teams are depending on emails or meetings to work on RFP responses together. Emails can be missed and meetings can take too much time.

team communication rfps

RFPIO brings easier communication between teams with @-mentioning within the solution, along with Slack integration. It’s simple to assign SMEs to a certain section of an RFP, so they can jump in and share their contribution. It’s also easy to ask for clarification on a response to speed up the review process, versus following up constantly by email.

Collaboration always has room for improvement at an organization. Responding to RFPs is a great exercise for breaking down barriers and opening up the line of communication.

From easier access to internal knowledge to better verbal communication, a stronger RFP response process delivers ongoing positive effects that trickle down into the daily lives of your team.

Successful response teams are using RFP software to be more productive and do their best work. Since RFPs are a key part of the sales process, this elevated approach leads to greater opportunities and revenue.

Responding to RFPs will make your team more effective as a whole when you are using technology that enables them to succeed.

See the positive effect of RFP software in action. Calculate your ROI in a few seconds.

rfp software roi

How to prevail over 4 common RFP response inefficiencies

How to prevail over 4 common RFP response inefficiencies

Any growing business wants and needs to gain new customers. RFP responses are an integral part of the sales process. To achieve growth, these proposals have to be managed effectively.

High-quality RFP responses are key, but the last-minute nature of these requests can make it difficult for organizations to put their best foot forward. Many even miss deadlines for important RFPs—and with that, they miss the chance to win business.

In our recent RFP response habits survey, 84% of proposal professionals revealed they are still using a manual process. Inefficiencies caused by this approach directly affect the potential of teams responding to RFPs.

rfp response organization

To identify the root cause of why organizations are missing new business opportunities, it’s good to understand what the underlying efficiencies really are. We’re investigating four common showstoppers in your RFP response process, so you can overcome them.

#1)  Lost historical RFP responses

Not being able to locate a key piece of content that’s relevant to the RFP at hand can disrupt your entire project workflow. This sends proposal managers and SMEs on an information hunt they truly don’t have time for: searching emails, folders, and spreadsheets. The effort to relocate the content is already high, but the effort to recreate an RFP response from scratch? Even higher.

RFP software gives responders an intelligent answer library that both decreases time spent finding answers while providing the most relevant option. You can browse various responses for a similar question in historical RFPs and use auto-response functionality to move even faster. This way you have the power to choose a hybrid of multiple responses to customize each response for a better chance of closing the deal.

#2)  Ineffective communication thread

Communication gaps happen—but with RFP response, the impact can mean the difference between winning and losing your next deal. If an SME overlooks an urgent request from a proposal manager by email or if a salesperson never steps out of their beloved CRM, valuable time will be lost when an RFP deadline is looming.

RFP software improves collaboration between teams with specialized integrations, like Slack and Salesforce. Busy SMEs will quickly respond when a clarification is needed on a response. Busy sales teams will view everything related to the RFP project in a Salesforce dashboard, with less distractions and logins. Less email and more focus helps teams keep their eyes forward on winning the RFP together.

RFPIO Customer Pro Tip: “Make sure you spend time—preferably in person—with each person that participates in your RFP response workflow. You will be pleasantly surprised by the details you can get over a cup of coffee, versus a conference call. It certainly helps me highlight areas in our workflow to target for improvement.” – Jim Tapscott, Director of Inside Sales at Continuity Logic

#3) Confusing review workflow

The review process is critical for your organization, since the new business you’re chasing greatly depends on your RFP deliverable. Multiple team members are involved across departments to meet the vendor’s request. SMEs can be difficult to track down, but their expertise is a must. Once they contribute, it’s up to the proposal manager and the marketing team to make the RFP response accessible to the vendor—without sacrificing the technical points.

RFP software gives complete access to the RFP’s progress and the ability to assign reviewers in the optimal order to finish the response well and on time. There is a lot less guesswork with this level of visibility, so the proposal manager can feel more confident about meeting the deadline with a quality deliverable. This eases concerns on all sides, because there is a method that systematizes the workflow.

#4)  Incorrect effort estimation

Many RFP responders discover that the time left to respond to a few queries in the RFP might take more time than what they have available. Procrastination plays a part, since responding to RFPs is typically not a primary job responsibility for the contributors. The aforementioned inefficiencies then add extra hours to the entire process.

RFP software makes the workflow easier on teams, so they don’t feel the same aversions they did before with a manual approach. The proposal manager can steer the ship by assigning tasks and deadlines. SMEs and sales teams can respond in half the time, because they aren’t hunting for responses or repeating unnecessary tasks. By avoiding the last-minute scramble, the RFP response will be more thoughtful for each opportunity—and will have a better chance at winning over the vendor.

RFPIO Customer Pro Tip: “With the stringent timelines to respond to RFXs, we are always racing against time. It’s important to thoroughly review the content and note the selection criteria, which is a key driving factor for writing a winning response. Craft the entire RFP response by paying careful attention and emphasizing the value of choosing you.” Abhinay Gajula, Sr. Executive – Business Development/Business Analyst at ProcessMAP

Like any business process, there are inevitable hiccups that contribute to missing RFP deadlines. All of these inefficiencies can be avoided with the right RFP software, but they can be amplified with a manual workflow.

When key RFP contributors work together effectively, these commons showstoppers will be resolved. Since RFP response requires an incredible amount of teamwork, there are no individuals moving toward the win. You need all hands on deck—and you need better tools to manage everything.

There is no magic bullet to help every organization overcome the many challenges they face with responding to RFPs. But, the value of a dedicated RFP management tool has immediate benefits for those who work closely together with a solid process.

Gain visibility with RFP response management dashboards

Gain visibility with RFP response management dashboards

Where are we with the RFP? This is perhaps the most common question asked of team members and SMEs contributing to a request for proposal.

I was a product manager for nearly a decade, and during that time I responded to countless RFPs manually. About 30% of my time was spent responding to RFPs, so I lived many of the same inefficiencies our clients experience in the field.

Inevitably, the question would be asked: Where are we with the RFP?

There was no easy answer to this, because everybody was being kept in the dark. As an SME, I felt frustrated because RFP response wasn’t my primary job responsibility. When it was time to contribute to an RFP, I had to drop everything to complete the task.

“A business with 100 employees spends an average downtime of 17 hours a week clarifying communication, translating to an annual cost of $528,443.” – Siemens

Sales was equally frustrated with the process. RFP responses are their bread and butter, so of course there is a sense of urgency. They didn’t know if I was on vacation—and if an RFP came in while I was out, they would be left hanging and potentially miss out on a new business opportunity.

To overcome these RFP process hiccups, companies will have standup meetings or send regular email updates to stay on top of project completion progress and make sure the deadline will be met. This works to a certain extent, but it requires more time and effort than most teams can spare.

This is where an RFP management dashboard comes in, alleviating common challenges with the analytics, insights, and reporting capabilities your team has been waiting for.

What is an RFP response management dashboard?

A manual approach to RFPs keeps teams guessing throughout the entire lifecycle of an RFP project. Grasping the progress of an RFP response is extremely limited when communication is happening by email and the project is viewed in spreadsheets.

An RFP response management dashboard takes guesswork out of the workflow by providing insights at-a-glance. The proposal lead can have full visibility into the project, knowing exactly where everything stands.

RFP management

Knowing an RFP project’s status is just scratching the surface when it comes to available insights within a dashboard. There are several types of RFP response management dashboards that bring teams visibility they didn’t even think was possible before with a manual RFP process.

Dashboard types for measuring RFP response projects

Every RFP management solution is different, but the most robust technology will offer dashboards. RFPIO has multiple dashboards that teams can use to support their RFP response efforts.

Project Overview Dashboard – When you need a progress update, you don’t need to ping your team members or stress about the status. Everything is right here for your RFP response project: deadlines, progress completion, and authors and reviewers summaries. (Can be viewed directly in your CRM.)

Response Dashboard – Wonder how many responses are complied or supported for a yes/no answer? Sales would be curious to know—and this could be a dealbreaker. If 90 out of a 100 questions are a “no,” then what’s the point in bidding for it? These insights give you a sneak peek into the process.

Executive Dashboard – Gain visibility into your team’s efforts to quickly perform win/loss analysis, view average completion time, and identify your top contributors. Now you can give recognition to your SMEs doing great work consistently with RFPs. (Can be viewed directly in your CRM.)

Answer Library DashboardContent audits are necessary for overall RFP response quality. Here, admins can assign content owners and set up automatic reminders to notify when it’s time to refresh the answer library, based on the audit frequency you choose.

Benefits of dashboards in your RFP management solution

RFP response management dashboards will grant you visibility into the entire process to save your team hours. The great unknown of RFP response will be eliminated with this level of analytics and reporting. Regular status meetings and emails will become obsolete when you can simply view the dashboard and know on the spot.

If you assign 50 questions to your SME and he has completed 28, he feels more confident being able to track his progress. You will also feel more confident, knowing your SME is working to meet the deadline.

If another SME skips a few questions, you will be able to recognize the oversight and nudge them to finish their assigned responses. This is clearly better than when you used to submit an RFP without knowing RFP responses were missed, then losing an opportunity because the vendor thought you dropped the ball.

For executive and sales teams, some dashboards can be viewed directly in their CRM. This brings quick insights to the table, without the extra step of logging into a separate platform. Being able to view the RFP response project in the tool they use daily will limit questions and provide real-time access.

Contributor recognition is another important benefit of RFP response dashboards. With smaller teams, it’s obvious when someone is contributing—but with larger teams, it can be more challenging. Being able to recognize your key RFP contributors and incentivize for more participation will encourage your team. This internal motivation will ultimately drive more revenue, since your organization will be enthusiastic to contribute to the next RFP.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” – Mark Twain

Your team’s potential becomes limitless when you have RFP dashboards incorporated into your workflow. Start giving your organization full visibility into the response process by using RFP software.

3 RFP software features that make your work life way easier

3 RFP software features that make your work life way easier

A proposal has many faces—whether it looks like an RFP or a security questionnaire. When it’s time for a business to respond to a proposal, there isn’t a lot of time to get acquainted with a proposal. It’s go-time the second it greets you in your inbox.

One look at the stats Capterra rounded up in this article reveals how truly necessary project management is, with: “97% of organizations believe project management is critical to business performance and organizational success.”

The days of manual, repetitive tasks are behind us in many ways but still tend to be a common occurrence for companies of all sizes responding to RFPs. This is where RFP software comes in to alleviate project management stress for teams to make them more productive.

“Competently responding to RFPs is just the lowest bar to clear when looking to grow your business. Anyone can read the requirements and submit a bid. To really grow your business, you need to focus on how the solution you provide solves the problems laid out in the request. By automating and streamlining your responses with RFP software, you can spend more time crafting a solution and less time fiddling around with layouts and basic information.” – Andrew Marder, Capterra

Just like any other technology, there are a lot of options to choose from—especially with SaaS solutions. According to The Access Group, “Reliability, ease of use, and ease of integration are the top three requirements project managers look for when shopping for software.”

So, how do you know which is the right RFP software for your team? How do you know which features will provide lasting benefits?

Here are our picks for the top three RFP software features that will help make your work life easier.

Import and export

Ask any proposal manager and they will tell you…this is the part of the RFP process they spend the majority of their time on. Our client, Josh Itzoe from Greenspring, realized that a typical RFP required anywhere from 20 to 40 hours of manual work, so he made it his personal mission to make their process more scalable and effective.

By using RFP software, he was able to cut completion time down to 5 hours. The ability to import and export with ease made a big difference for Josh.

Import

One question can have multiple responses. If you work with security questionnaires, you’re very familiar with the Excel document that has rows and columns that seem to go on forever.

Although there are technologies that allows you to import questions and requirements, very few can support multiple answers for the same question. For example, do you support XYZ feature? Column 1 – Yes/No. Column 2 – Additional Comments.

import rfp

It’s important to have a dependable import to save you time from the beginning of the RFP project. Equally important is to be able to import from any source—be it Word, Excel, or even PDF (which is a recent feature we implemented at RFPIO.)

Export

When you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, you want the export process to go smoothly. However this is another task that can delay teams that think they are finished with an RFP then realize the formatting is all wrong.

With RFP software, there are two ways to export an RFP:

  1. Export to the source: This exporting option is critical when you have a specific format to follow and you don’t want to modify the source document. Typically we see this in spreadsheet-based RFPs.
  2. Export in a template: You want to be able to customize templates at will, with the flexibility to have one template for an unsolicited proposal and another for an SOW. You should even have the ability to send the final proposal in your own corporate template. (Yes, RFPIO supports unlimited templates!)

The key with exporting is consistency.

SMEs spanning departments will come together to respond to an RFP—and often everyone has different fonts they prefer. If you have a great template, it doesn’t matter if you used Arial 10, Susan used Calibri 12, and Jim used Comic Sans 18 because he has a weird sense of humor.

Your deliverable will have a consistent look and feel because the system will align font, colors, bullet points, etc. Then, marketing doesn’t need to spend as much time manually polishing the deliverable—and your team is much happier and productive as a result.

Curious about how much RFP software can save you?

ROI calculator

Use our ROI calculator to find out!

Integrations

RFP software on its own will increase your organizational effectiveness by eliminating the manual labor of spreadsheets and documents. A solution that integrates with other applications you’re already using will further boost your team’s productivity.

CRM

Salespeople typically accept one tool, the CRM—and they will rebel against learning new technology that might steal them away from selling time. Having a true Salesforce integration means your sales team can remain in the tool they already use daily, without being distracted by a technology learning curve.

Long term, a CRM integration will require much less effort with team collaboration while keeping sales focused on revenue generating priorities.

rfpio salesforce appexchange

View RFPIO on Salesforce AppExchange

Collaboration

Less email is a good thing, not only for our inboxes but also for better RFP collaboration. Integration with popular communication tools, like Slack, can greatly reduce friction between a proposal manager and an SME when an RFP deadline is looming and input is needed.

With email, it’s inevitable that something will slip through the cracks. Slack is a nice complement to RFP software, because team members can communicate more effectively.

Cloud Storage

Support documents need to be centralized and accessible, and companies want a centralized drive that meets their storage needs. RFP software integrating with cloud storage solutions kills two birds with one stone, allowing teams to manage all responses in the cloud with quick access to the latest and greatest content.

Answer Library

A strong answer library helps speed up the RFP process tenfold, but the majority of companies are still storing their responses in a disorganized fashion: some are in emails, others are in spreadsheets, the rest are in forgotten folders. This is where RFP software truly helps organize existing content—and even autosuggest answers—to save teams time.

answer library review

When you’re on the hunt for a good RFP management solution, make sure your answer library can do these three things:

  1. Be able to assign owners periodically and have an established review workflow, so your content never goes stale.
  2. Be able to identify duplicate content and have the flexibility to override what stays and what goes during a content audit.
  3. Be able to change responses into different languages to seamlessly communicate internationally, when applicable.

rfp software multiple languages

With your answer library, the right setup and consistent maintenance will set the tone for success at your organization. A disorganized or nonexistent answer library will only slow your team down.

“After the initial setup of our RFPIO answer library and the templates, we started saving a ton of time just having those responses available. It’s important to set the RFP response schedule and create a culture where that schedule is sacred.” – Hayli Hay, Metal Toad

Listen to the podcast to find out how RFP software helped Metal Toad!

With the time and resource constraints companies are often working with, it is absolutely necessary to have a sound RFP process in place before the proposal shows its face. This not only helps teams collaborate easier to meet a quick deadline, it allows teams to focus on delivering a high-quality response with a greater win potential.

When you’re on the hunt for RFP software, these three features are a non-negotiable for the ultimate success of your organization. Take your time and find the right fit.

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