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Knowledge management best practices

Knowledge management best practices

Albert Einstein said, “The pursuit of knowledge is more valuable than its possession.” With all due respect to Einstein, phooey. […]


Category: Content & Storytelling

Knowledge management best practices

Knowledge management best practices

Albert Einstein said, “The pursuit of knowledge is more valuable than its possession.” With all due respect to Einstein, phooey. At least in terms of knowledge management as we know it today. To capture data and information, impart it with knowledge, and derive wisdom is the “quantum theory” of doing business these days: It’s the fabric of systems and processes behind every data-driven decision, from sales to content strategy to product development.

Underlying the somewhat mystical element of how it all comes together to make every company unique is a knowledge management system, the development and implementation of which can be overwhelming. Where do you start? What’s the best fit for your company? How do you manage change? How will end users react? And, of course, the Big Bang whopper: Will it work?

I’ll answer the last one first: Yes. As far as the other concerns, these knowledge management best practices will help. It’s important to always remember that the reason you need effective knowledge management is to develop your organization’s single source of truth. It’s the only way to be sure that everyone in the organization is always presenting the right information and telling the same story.

Knowledge management best practices

1. Determine the right fit for your company

There are two popular solutions common to knowledge management: corporate wikis and internal knowledge bases.

Corporate wikis are a bit like the wild west. Anyone can add, delete, or edit content. They’re dynamite for increasing employee engagement but lacking in reliability and measurement. If you just want to build a searchable warehouse and have confidence in all your contributors, then corporate wikis may be all that you need.

Internal knowledge bases are dynamic content repositories built on software with knowledge management processes, collaboration tools, and a user experience baked in. They’re designed to capture, curate, and share knowledge efficiently and effectively. One of the biggest differences between them and wikis is that content creation and editing is reserved for specialists who can be trusted. They also function within the parameters of a content strategy, which can be as fluid as necessary for organizations to remain agile and nimble.

To learn more about both options and why we recommend internal knowledge bases, check out “Corporate wiki vs internal knowledge base: Which is better?”

2. Basic is better

One of the reasons we recommend internal knowledge bases is because the user experience should be built to streamline the complexities that tend to result in failed knowledge management initiatives. Application developers should be automating processes of capturing, curating, and sharing knowledge while adding features that actually improve the daily workflow for end users. In other words, the application helps them be more productive or more effective or more efficient. Or, best of all, all three!

Keep the “basic is better” mantra in mind while rolling out a knowledge management system too. Prioritize departments in need and introduce the system to one department at a time. Gradually expand as you dial in training, word of mouth circulates about how great the system is, and you have success stories to share with new departments and executive sponsors.

3. Measure improvements

The functional value of knowledge management will rapidly become apparent to end users in how they’re able to execute their responsibilities. They’ll be able to build better proposals faster, respond to prospects and customers with greater accuracy in near real time, and gain contextual insight into all the content relevant to their role.

The strategic value of knowledge management is that you’re able to show the value of the system to your leadership team in such a way that they can trust your reporting accuracy. Numbers don’t lie, but you need measurement capabilities to get the numbers. Plus, it makes it easier to measure ROI. You have to communicate the value of your single source of truth.

Internal knowledge base software easily allows you to measure success post-implementation. I’ll call out three of my favorite RFPIO reports that help illustrate its strategic value:

  • Answer Library Insights Report: This dashboard connects you to insights on your Answer Library, including content moderation and usage, content owners, and content moderators.
  • Answer Library Timeline: More of a tool than a report, this allows you to proactively set SME schedules so content auditing responsibilities are parsed out manageably instead of piling on hundreds of questions at the end of the year. From a reporting standpoint, it shows leadership how SME time is being used more efficiently.
  • Answer Library Search Terms Report: Which terms are end users searching but receiving zero results for? This report delivers instant insight into which content you need to develop to meet user—and ultimately prospect and customer—needs.

Schedule monthly Answer Library health reports with team leaders. Roll those up into quarterly reports to show the value of your knowledge management solution to your c-suite.

4. Make the knowledge diverse

If knowledge is not accessible and usable at scale, then it’s probably not worth managing. Sales teams need content to answer tough prospect questions in near real time and build personalized presentations. Proposal teams need on-demand knowledge to answer questionnaires and build engaging proposals. Support teams need access to knowledge from wherever they’re working without toggling between applications to improve the customer experience.

All of this can only happen with open access to the knowledge management system. That’s why RFPIO provides unlimited user licenses, so everyone who can benefit from knowledge can also access knowledge. Technical, product development, sales, marketing, legal, security…all of this content has value and will strengthen your knowledge management. The right system will help you restrict access to sensitive content that may include private, confidential, or proprietary information.

Sorry, Albert, I meant no offense

Back to Einstein. In all fairness, knowledge management systems didn’t exist in his day. We can do a lot more with knowledge than what was possible 80 years ago (we can actually do a lot more with knowledge than we could one year ago), so I meant no disrespect by my opening “phooey.” Perhaps another Einstein quote suits knowledge management best practices more aptly: “Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

To learn more about how to apply knowledge management best practices in your organization with the help of RFPIO, schedule a demo today! Check out my on-demand webinar for tips on Building a Solid Content Foundation.

Corporate wiki vs internal knowledge base: Which is better?

Corporate wiki vs internal knowledge base: Which is better?

Wikipedia is the primary resource hosts Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett cite in their podcast, Smartless, when interviewing a veritable who’s who in entertainment, sports, and journalism. It’s a must-listen podcast, IMHO, but not because the hosts actually rely on Wikipedia as their source. The use of Wikipedia is an inside joke because one or more of them usually knows their “surprise” guest quite well. As a result, the interviews are funny, insightful, and loaded with personal anecdotes and nostalgia.

What would happen to Smartless if Jason Bateman decided to forego podcasting for more directing opportunities? Could Sean and Will fall back on a wiki or internal knowledge base where Jason had the opportunity to upload his insight into interviews with Erin Gray, Ricky Schroeder, or Alfonso Ribeiro? (Try a reference that’s timelier than “Silver Spoons,” RD.) How about interviews with Laura Linney, Jason Sudeikis, or Rachel McAdams? Comparatively, they’d fall flat without Bateman’s personal knowledge and relationship with those guests.

In the real world, where we all do business with people who haven’t starred in a movie, sitcom, or Netflix series in the past 40 years, falling flat due to ineffective knowledge sharing means not meeting customer expectations, not having answers to prospect questions fast enough, or giving wrong or outdated answers in proposals. It’s costly and embarrassing. It’s also avoidable.

Businesses looking for knowledge sharing tools often end up deciding between two options: corporate wikis or internal knowledge base software. While they may seem similar, they’re actually quite different. In this blog, we’ll break down the differences between company wikis and internal knowledge base software to determine which is the best for your business.

Why is knowledge sharing so important?

In 2020, Forrester asked more than 3,000 sales reps about their main roadblocks to productivity. Finding content or information was at the top of the list. And a McKinsey study found that knowledge workers spend 20% of their time searching for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. Time equals money, and IDC estimates that an enterprise of 1,000 knowledge workers wastes $5.7 million annually searching for information that is never found.

One more bit of bad news (I’ll end on a high note. Promise.): Knowledge workers are quitting. They are not immune to “The Great Resignation” of the pandemic. According to the New Yorker, “Many well-compensated but burnt-out knowledge workers have long felt that their internal ledger books were out of balance: they worked long hours, they made good money, they had lots of stuff, they were exhausted, and, above all, they saw no easy options for changing their circumstances.” Well, the pandemic gave them the opportunity they were looking for to simplify their life. With knowledge workers departing, organizations need to up the ante on knowledge sharing to make sure they’re expertise doesn’t go out the door with them.

Speaking of doors, knowledge sharing is also a boon for onboarding new employees coming in the door. Giving them the freedom to access company knowledge at will and in context gets them up to speed faster while making custom face-to-face training more efficient and effective (i.e., trainees can find answers to common questions in the wiki or knowledge base on their own time). A majority of HR professionals cite improved onboarding as beneficial to overall employee engagement.

As promised, a high note: Knowledge sharing encourages and rewards greater employee involvement, especially when the sharing mechanism is easy, intuitive, and trustworthy. Organizations with highly engaged employees earn about 150% more than their less engaged counterparts. So they have that going for them, which is good.

What is a corporate wiki?

A corporate wiki is developed using an open source model. This means that anyone can submit edits or gain access. Although touted for being “collaborative,” they are not always reliable because anyone can make changes and include inaccurate information. Democracy works in politics and when making decisions with your fellow lifeboat occupants. Crowdsourcing worked for Tom Sawyer and tells you if police are ahead on Waze. Neither are good fits for business content.

As far as knowledge sharing is concerned, corporate wikis follow the rules of the jungle. While they certainly encourage greater employee involvement, power users tend to elbow out the specialists. They also get out of control fast. It’s an environment where content seeds are planted and then vines grow depending on what’s most popular or controversial. Without any strategy or rules in place, old vines don’t get pruned, some seedlings get overshadowed, and Barry from engineering starts every edit with, “Whoever wrote this is an idiot. The correct answer is…” Not the sort of collaborative vibe you were hoping for.

What is an internal knowledge base?

An internal knowledge base exists in a self-contained solution designed to streamline access, creation, and review of your business content. Unlike corporate wikis, internal knowledge bases have verified writers, so that all team members using the knowledge base can feel confident that the answers they are finding are accurate. Whereas wikis are open to any user creating or editing content, internal knowledge bases are read-only. If the corporate wiki is the jungle, then the internal knowledge base is a curated nursery.

Structure and strategy are the two biggest differentiators between corporate wikis and internal knowledge bases. Within an overarching content strategy developed for the internal knowledge base, writers create and edit content based on a schedule, which is informed by data-driven insight. Tags, collections, and custom fields define its information hierarchy, making it more user-friendly and efficient to search.

Depending on how you set up your internal knowledge base, you can also gather data to derive intelligence on how it’s being used, what it’s missing, and what it doesn’t need. For example, through RFPIO, users can output an Answer Library Insights Report to see which content gets used most often as well as which search terms receive very few or zero results. In the latter example, content managers can build content production plans around zero-result search terms so users will be able to find answers they need during their next search.

Creating an internal knowledge base is a 6-step process:

  1. Consolidate existing knowledge: Import your most recent sales proposals, DDQs, security questionnaires, and RFPs.
  2. Grow as you go: Add new content as products come and go, markets change, audience triggers evolve, and new departments come on board based on your initial tag, collection, and custom field structure.
  3. Stay accurate and up-to-date: Curate content to keep it fresh (corporate content every 90 days, product content every 6-12 months, and evergreen content that doesn’t change much every 12-24 months).
  4. Provide open access: Make sure everyone who needs to use the content has access to the content. Don’t get restrained by user licenses.
  5. Train your team: Even if the tool is intuitive and easy to use, set up time to train new users or else risk them never even trying it.
  6. Conduct regular audits: Don’t let the internal knowledge base turn into the wiki jungle. Keep it clean.

Learn more about these six steps here.

What’s better: a corporate wiki or an internal knowledge base?

Guessing I probably showed my hand too early with that wisecrack about Barry from engineering. You got it: The internal knowledge base takes the checkered flag when it comes to organizational knowledge sharing.

Its structure and the processes that support it make it a more trustworthy single source of truth, which reduces knowledge hoarding and shadow development of content that may exist in individual hard drives. And just because content is created and edited by designated writers doesn’t mean that all expertise hasn’t been tapped. Systems such as RFPIO enable content owners to automate collaboration with subject matter experts so that knowledge is captured accurately and efficiently, while maintaining consistency in message, voice, and tone throughout.

Besides, it also offers much more functionality compared to a corporate wiki. Instead of opening a new browser window or tab and navigating to the Intranet wiki, users can search content from almost anywhere. RFPIO® LookUp is a portal into the Answer Library, which can be searched from Chrome like you’re searching the Internet. According to Hope Henderson at Alera Group, “We market RFPIO as our internal content Google. If anyone that’s client-facing has a question about a specific product, the RFPIO Answer Library will be the first place they’ll go.”

“We market RFPIO as our internal content Google. If anyone that’s client-facing has a question about a specific product, the RFPIO Answer Library will be the first place they’ll go.”
-Hope Henderson, Marketing Coordinator at Alera Group

RFPIO also integrates with CRM, communication, cloud, and other applications so users don’t have to toggle back and forth to find content. Vicki Griesinger, Director of Business Strategy, Worldwide Public Sector at Microsoft, said, “RFPIO® LookUp is available right from Microsoft Teams and surfaces content from all of our content collections without the maintenance overhead.”

With fewer writers and more controls, you might think content ends up sounding too institutional, with too few opportunities to personalize it. On the contrary. With a finely tuned internal knowledge base, prospect- and client-facing workers can find accurate content faster and easier so they’ll have more time to spend on personalizing the interaction.

Plan for unknown knowledge

In your pursuit of the ultimate knowledge repository, remember one thing: It’s going to have to change. In five years, you may need the knowledge you have now or you may not. You’ll definitely need some of the new knowledge you’re going to gain on the way.

Both corporate wikis and internal knowledge bases are updateable, but five years hence do you want to be hacking through a jungle to see what you can update? Or would you rather have the new knowledge curated and grafted onto the existing content for you so that all you have to do is harvest the fruit?

To learn more about using RFPIO to build your internal knowledge base, schedule a demo today.

Internal Knowledge Base: What it is, how to use it, and how to create one

Internal Knowledge Base: What it is, how to use it, and how to create one

“Of course banana trees are trees, that’s why there’s ‘tree’ in the name.”

That’s how a heated debate with my family started a few weeks ago. Or, rather, that’s how a heated debate would have started if Google had not ended it immediately. (In case you’re curious, banana trees are actually herbaceous plants).

At risk of outing myself as a millennial, I feel like life before search engines was basically the wild, wild west. Before we carried around the answers to basically everything in our pockets, we’d either be content with not knowing, settle on an incorrect answer, or consult books or experts. (Madeleine’s father-in-law grows banana trees, he might be a good person to ask…)

In the future, I think this is what knowledge workers will think about the time before internal knowledge bases: How did everyone function before we consolidated all company knowledge into a single, easily accessible location?

In 2020, Forrester asked more than 3,000 sales reps about their main roadblocks to productivity. Finding content or information was at the top of the list.

And a McKinsey study found that knowledge workers spend 20% of their time searching for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.

Knowledge is a company’s most valuable asset, and being able to access it quickly and easily is essential to enhancing productivity and achieving goals. To make that a reality, you need to create and maintain an internal knowledge base. Here’s a guide to make that happen.

What is an internal knowledge base?

An internal knowledge base is a library of knowledge created by an organization for strict employee usage to easily (and securely) access confidential knowledge. The goal of a company knowledge base is to make everyone’s job easier by making company knowledge available on-demand.

A company knowledge base can hold answers to basically anything. This includes information about products, services, compliance, company history, and more. It can also contain the most up-to-date documents from all departments, including things like sales contracts, product roadmap, HR policies, and brand guidelines.

How to use an internal knowledge base

Think about an internal knowledge base as the place to store the answers to everything. Any question that people would usually go to subject matter experts for answers to should be readily available—and easily searchable—in your internal knowledge base.

That way, instead of your employees pinging HR for health care policy information or asking marketing for links to case studies, they can find what they need in your internal knowledge base.

Here are some examples of how you can use an internal knowledge base:

  • Answer customer questions

According to Hubspot research, salespeople spend 21% of their day writing emails. Many of those emails include following up to prospects with resources, or answering questions about the product or solution. With an internal knowledge base available from their email, salespeople can find answers to customer questions more efficiently—and get back to selling.

  • Respond to RFPs, RFIs, Security Questionnaires, DDQs, etc.

Consolidating company knowledge streamlines responses to RFPs, RFIs, Security Questionnaires, DDQs—especially when you consolidate knowledge in an AI-enabled RFP automation solution. We’ve found that organizations cut time responding to RFPs by 40% (on average) after implementing RFP automation technology like RFPIO.

  • Improve onboarding

New employees often ask the same questions. Rather than relying on tenured employees to answer that question time and time again, you can store that answer in your internal knowledge base and make it available on-demand to new employees.

  • Stay on-brand

Store marketing-approved content in your internal knowledge base, including things like branded slide decks, letterhead, and templates, as well as brand guidelines and boilerplates.

  • Get technical help

Use your internal knowledge base as a go-to spot for up-to-date IT information. Use your internal knowledge base to streamline common problems and communications.

  • Answer support tickets

Store answers to support tickets in your internal knowledge base. That way your support team can learn from each other’s experiences. Whenever a tricky support question comes up, your team has a rich database to find the answer.

  • Empower everyone to create their best content

When your company’s best answers are only a few clicks away, you can create better content. This includes things like blogs, slide decks, sales proposals, and more.

How to create an internal knowledge base in 6 steps

If you need real-time knowledge sharing, a knowledge base is what your business needs. Knowledge bases can easily share information in real-time with verified employees.

There are plenty of best practices to take into consideration when building a company knowledge library. Here are the steps to consider when creating an internal knowledge base:

  1. Consolidate existing knowledge
  2. Grow as you go
  3. Stay accurate and up-to-date
  4. Open the floodgates
  5. Train your team
  6. Conduct regular audits

Consolidate existing knowledge

I’m going to tell you something that might surprise you: A quick way to consolidate company knowledge starts with your sales proposals, DDQs, and security questionnaires.

When you write a sales proposal — be it a proactive proposal, SOW, or response to a request for proposal, bid, or tender — or respond to other complex questionnaires (e.g. security questionnaires, DDQs) you’re compiling relevant, accurate, up-to-date information about your company, products, services, security standards, and compliance status.

If your organization responds to RFPs, writes sales proposals, and/or fills out security questionnaires and DDQs, you already have the foundation upon which you can build your internal knowledge base.

Many teams choose to consolidate knowledge using a shareable spreadsheet (e.g. Google Sheets) or platforms like Sharepoint. While this is a perfectly respectable first step for smaller teams, it can be very labor-intensive, difficult to scale, and can easily get out of control.

For a more long-term and scalable solution, you might consider using an AI-enabled RFP automation solution (e.g. RFPIO). With RFPIO, you can import old responses (e.g. to RFPs, RFIs, security questionnaires, DDQs, etc) into the platform, and RFPIO’s patented import functionality will break your lengthy questionnaires into question-answer pairs.

Step 2: Grow as you go

After you’ve consolidated content from your sales proposals and security questionnaires, start consolidating question-and-answer pairs (Q&A pairs) from other departments. If you’re using a spreadsheet, create a tab for each department. Within the tab, designate a column for “questions” and a column for “answers”. If a question needs multiple answers, you can create an additional column.

If you use an RFP automation platform, growing as you go is much more straightforward. Tags, collections, and custom fields keep your internal knowledge base organized. And the more questionnaires you respond to, the richer your Answer Library grows.

You can also easily build your internal knowledge base beyond proposals and questionnaires by adding question-answer pairs (Q&A pairs) not associated with any proposal.

As a Content Marketing Manager, I use RFPIO as a hub for sales enablement documents, including case studies, data sheets, one-pagers, blogs, and email templates. Because of RFPIO’s advanced search functionality, the sales team can easily find the information they need with a simple keyword search.

Step 3: Stay accurate and up-to-date

The key to an internal knowledge base is that it’s been approved and pre-vetted by the right people.

Before you add any new Q&A pair to your internal knowledge base, make sure it’s been reviewed and approved. If you’re using RFPIO, you can set up content moderation, so any new Q&A pair needs to go through an internal knowledge base “gatekeeper” before it can be added to the library.

The second part is staying accurate and up-to-date. If you’re using a non-automated solution like Google Sheets or Sharepoint, you can use your calendar or email scheduling tool to remind yourself to review and verify information.

With RFPIO, you can set custom review cycles on each Q&A pair. For example, if you set the review cycle for 6 months, the content owner will be sent an email reminder every 6 months, asking them to review the answer and verify it’s still up-to-date.

How often you should conduct reviews depends on the type of content. As a standard rule of thumb:

  • Corporate content should be reviewed once every 90 days
  • Product content should be reviewed every 6-12 months
  • Evergreen content should be reviewed every 12-24 monthshow often should you conduct a review cycle

Step 4: Open the floodgates

Once you’ve created your internal knowledge base, it’s time to give your team access.

If you’re using an AI-enabled internal knowledge base solution like RFPIO, you have a lot more control over user permissions, so you can feel confident your people only have access to the content with need.

And you can also make sure that knowledge is accessible from where people are already working. With RFPIO® LookUp, you can access your company knowledge from:

  • Slack,
  • Google Chrome,
  • Microsoft Teams,
  • Microsoft Outlook,
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint), and
  • Chromium Edge

Step 5: Train your team

People hate change. This axiom never rings truer when you’re trying to get people to adopt a new system that will make their lives easier.

Even if you’re simply sharing a link to a cloud-based spreadsheet or storage system, you still need to train your team on how to use it.

Here are a few best practices to get your team up and running with your internal knowledge base:

  • Schedule training. More training than you think necessary. Once to show people how to use the system. And then again after 3 days, 3 weeks, and 3 months.
  • Share information. Create how-to guides for using the platform and share them with your team. And then share them again. And again.
  • Learn from your peers. Luckily, you’re not the first person to ever implement an internal knowledge base. Learn from how other high-performing teams about how they set up their internal knowledge base:
    • Read how the Microsoft team uses Microsoft Teams to make company knowledge widely available
    • Read or Watch how Illuminate Education made their internal knowledge base available from Slack
    • See how Genpact made company knowledge available from Microsoft PowerPoint

Step 6: Conduct Regular Audits

A healthy knowledge base needs regular updates.

For content audit best practices, head over to our blog: Clean up your RFP answer library in 3 steps.

Get started building your internal knowledge base

Internal knowledge bases are perfect for companies looking to easily locate resources efficiently and securely. Learn more about how RFPIO® LookUp can help you create an internal knowledge base.

Or, if you’re ready to see LookUp in action, schedule a customized demo.

LevelUp interview series: The evolving role of content in the sales process

LevelUp interview series: The evolving role of content in the sales process

Is content important to your business?

If you asked a business leader this question just 10 years ago, their answer would likely be quite different than it is now.

In 2019, 41% of marketing budgets were spent on content alone, compared to just 23% in 2018, according to Hubspot’s State of Content Marketing 2020.

Bottom line: The role of content for B2B business has changed dramatically. And these changes have monumental implications for the sales process and beyond.

To dig deeper into what those changes mean, we invited sales and marketing leaders to share their experiences navigating the changing nature of content. During these conversations, we discussed what organizations can do to better leverage company knowledge and what we predict the future of content will bring.

Watch our video series below!

Asher Matthew, VP of Revenue at Demand Matrix


Tune into this 15-minute conversation to hear Asher’s take on all things content, including:

  • Why relevancy is so important to content creation,
  • How content can bridge the gap between sales and marketing teams, and
  • How content creators can make sure their content is buyer-centric

Connect with Asher on LinkedIn.

Read the full transcript here.

Eric Wittlake, Senior Director of Category and Product Marketing at 6sense


Tune into this 15-minute conversation to hear Eric’s take on the role content plays in the sales process, including:

  • The importance of involving buyers in the selling process,
  • What personalization means for content (and what it doesn’t mean), and
  • How to enable sellers to better leverage content.

Connect with Eric on LinkedIn.

Read the full transcript here.

Stephen Diorio, Executive Director at The Revenue Enablement Institute


Learn about the new “21st century commercial model” and why content is even more critical to the sales cycle than ever. During this 15-minute conversation, Stephen touches on:

  • Why lack of content is the #1 impediment to selling, and what to do about it,
  • The increasing importance of personalized content, and
  • How to get the most mileage out of your content and increase your “Return on Asset”

Connect with Stephen on LinkedIn.

Read the full transcript here.

Matthew Volm, CEO and Co-Founder of Funnel IQ


Hear Matthew’s thoughts on good content creation in this 15-minute fireside chat, where he touches on:

  • How organizations can prepare themselves for content creation,
  • Finding the “why” of content, and
  • The three tenets of good ops

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn.

Read the full transcript here.

Scott Olsen and Gary Brashear of Olsen Group


Listen to Scott and Gary talk about how content can empower your sales teams. In this 15-minute conversation, they discuss:

  • How to improve sales-marketing alignment,
  • Why storytelling is important for sales, and
  • The role exclusivity plays in sales content

Connect with Scott and Gary on LinkedIn.

Read the full transcript here.

How to build a business case for a full-time RFP content manager

How to build a business case for a full-time RFP content manager

Like trying to navigate the Suez Canal in high winds and poor visibility, you can manage a proposal program without an RFP content manager, but is it really worth the risk? Without one, eventually your response management process–and revenue stream–will get clogged by subpar content.

An RFP content manager owns the comprehensive content management strategy for your organization’s proposal development. The person in this role will interface with subject matter experts (SMEs) and other key response stakeholders (e.g., proposal managers, sales managers, support managers, etc.), remove redundancy in your Answer Library, ensure all content is clean and proposal-ready, and report monthly to the executive team to help demonstrate their value.

Even though it’s fairly obvious that there’s so much an RFP content manager can do for an organization, it can still be frustratingly difficult to justify the need for one with upper management. Hopefully, some of the information in this article will help you change mindsets from a “nice-to-have” approach to a “have-to-have” business imperative.

The Biggest Benefit

Your proposal team can stop splitting their time—already a scarce resource—between trying to respond to proposals AND managing content. When this shared-responsibility approach is attempted, everyone’s attention is fractured, and as soon a new proposal comes in the door, content management screeches to a halt. Proposal always takes precedence over content in a shared-responsibility scenario. Eventually, trust in content will be lost (as well as the bid), leading to resentment between teams. Imagine the finger-pointing if the Ever Given had two captains at the wheel when it went sideways.

Content is a pain point for everyone involved in a proposal. Managing the tag structure alone is a full-time job. With a full-time RFP content manager in place, you have a designated individual whose primary responsibility is to convert content from a pain point to a competitive differentiator. It also frees up the proposal team to respond to proposals as they come through the door. It will be the RFP content manager’s responsibility to interface with the proposal team in real-time to prioritize incoming Q&A pairs.

Business Case: The Numbers

The reason that RFP content managers are surrounded by a “nice-to-have” aura is because upper management doesn’t have a clear picture of the opportunity. There are many ways to surface the value that an RFP content manager will bring to your organization.

Numbers are hard to argue, even for the most budget-conscious CFO. A successful RFP content manager will enable all teams that develop client-facing proposals with “clean content,” which saved Microsoft an estimated $2.4 million. Then there’s the company that doubled its RFP win rate after hiring a full-time RFP content manager and discovered that, “When the entire team has access to the best content available, everyone is better off.”

Also, dig into your RFP win rate and percentage of revenue numbers to estimate how many more RFPs can be completed with an RFP content manager on board. Something to consider…we found that organizations with dedicated proposal professionals–which you’ll have when your new RFP content manager relieves the proposal manager of content management duties—submitted almost 3.5x more responses in 2020 than those without. Other numbers from our study that are relevant to your business case include:

  • Companies with a designated RFP solution are 32% more likely to have strong content moderation procedures in place (i.e., they have the tools and time for content management).
  • 90% of companies with designated RFP software prioritize content moderation to build trust among proposal stakeholders.
  • The average RFP win rate in 2020 was 45% at an average deal size between US $1-3M (i.e. increase how many RFPs you respond to, increase your revenue).

Another key number is that a dedicated RFP content manager can reduce Q&A pairs in your Answer Library by as much as 40-50% by removing duplicates and combining similar responses. I once had a Q&A pair with 43 versions of the answer. Each had its own flavor and no one could decide which was correct. Eventually, I trimmed it down to six. This was part of a 9-month undertaking to pare down the whole Answer Library from 5,600 to 2,200 Q&A pairs! No way that happens on a part-time basis.

Ensuring Answer Library purity will help your proposal team complete RFx’s more quickly and more accurately. I have a client who refers to this as “productivity density”, meaning you can complete more proposals, more accurately, in the same amount of time. It will provide the same benefits to those teams building proactive proposals, such as sales and customer support.

Business Case: Being Respectful of Time

An essential value offered by RFP content managers is their ability to protect SMEs’ time. Your content manager won’t just work with your SMEs, they’ll build relationships with them and truly partner with them. They’re invested in content just as much as the SME is, and they will want to work together to accomplish content updates and cyclical reviews.

Say an SME takes 10 minutes to review a Q&A pair. If you send them the same question in 14 ways, then you’re asking for 140 minutes of their time. Trim that down to 2 or 3, and you’ll develop trust with SMEs in the content and in the proposal process.

There’s a numbers play here, too. It starts with identifying how much your SME’s time is worth down to the minute.

For example, say the average annual salary for an SME is $100K. That breaks down to about $0.38 per minute, or $3.80 per review of a Q&A pair (assuming it takes them 10 minutes to review). By reducing their review from 14 pairs to 3 pairs, you’re saving $41.80.

Now let’s extrapolate that savings out to annual production. After a content manager has trimmed redundant, outdated, and trivial content, you may well be left with 3,500 Q&A pairs instead of 6,200. That’s a 45% reduction. If you have six SMEs, they now only need to review about 600 Q&A pairs each, which means they can spend lots more time bringing value to your customers in their role.

This is also generating roughly $10,000 in savings for your company that can help you build a case for funding the content manager position.

Your numbers will vary, of course, depending on SME salary, average time reviewing Q&A pairs, and how many pairs an SME reviews annually. But this shows how you can hang tangible cost savings on a prospective full-time RFP content manager. Perform similar exercises to calculate cost savings for proposal managers, salespeople, customer support specialists, and any other personnel involved in generating proposals.

Business Case: Improve Content, Improve Proposals

Of course, we cannot forget the main reason you want an RFP content manager: content. They’ll be responsible for its proposal readiness 24/7/365. That includes:

  • Making sure tagging is accurate and redundancy eliminated.
  • Ensuring you don’t have client names or details in your content that could be submitted to a different client (a huge benefit to the entire organization when it comes to things like corporate and financial content).
  • Performing white-glove reviews for all content so that the proposal builders who use it (e.g., proposal, sales, and support teams) can do so in a self-service environment without hesitation.
  • Meet monthly with the proposal team to identify gaps and edits.
  • Identify content used most frequently to prioritize it for updates and reviews.

The positive byproducts of their content focus will spread across your organization. Onboarding will be easier because the right content will always be located where it’s supposed to be. Brand management will be easier to monitor and update. Upper management will have greater visibility into content and proposal management thanks to the monthly reports delivered by the RFP content manager. By the way, you don’t need one for every line of business, especially if you have a response management platform like RFPIO. The RFP content manager can do upfront legwork with multiple lines of business and then manage the processes of content development and auditing for all of them!

Remember, any proposal is only as good as its content. All the polish in the world cannot cover up inaccurate, poorly written, out-of-date, or irrelevant content. Respond to more RFPs, win more RFPs, earn more revenue. The fastest way to respond to more RFPs is by adding a full-time RFP content manager to keep the machine humming. Otherwise, your proposal development pipeline might end up being backed up into the Red Sea.

To learn more about how to build your case, check out my full webinar (below).

How to clean up your RFP answer library with a 3-step content audit

How to clean up your RFP answer library with a 3-step content audit

Hello, 2021! A new year means a fresh calendar, a new set of New Year’s Resolutions to break, and, of course, re-learning how to write the date. And, I don’t know about you, but this year I’ll be scratching out “2020” with particular relish.

Saying good-bye to 2020 also means putting your disorganized, cluttered content library behind you. It’s time to show your RFP content who’s boss. And, yes, a healthy content library does more than just keep you sane. It also streamlines your RFP response process. Note that I say “RFP”, but I really mean any kind of complex questionnaire… RFIs, Security Questionnaires, DDQs, VSAs, you name it.

If you’re already working with RFP automation software like RFPIO, a healthy answer library means answering 70-80% of your RFP with one click (hello, Auto Respond!).

Even if you haven’t upgraded to RFP automation software yet, refreshing your content library means you can bring relevant content to your fingertips and respond to a vast majority of RFP questions at the drop of a hat.

The good news is that an RFP content audit isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds. Read on to learn how to conduct your content audit in just three steps—and kick 2021 off with your fastest RFP response yet.

RFP content audit step 1: Complete an ROT analysis

ROT stands for “Redundant, Outdated, and Trivial”. A smooth-running live RFP answer library only contains the most recent, relevant, and accurate information. That means your job is moving redundant, outdated, and trivial content into an archived folder.

Redundant Content: Duplicate and/or similar content. If you’re using RFPIO, run a duplicate report on questions and answers, and click on “View Similar Content” to find comparable responses.

Outdated Content: Expired or sunset content. Isolate any content not used in the last year (let’s call that “expired content”) using the Advanced Search function in RFPIO. Then, identify content from products, services, and solutions that are no longer relevant (we can call that “sunset content”) using tags and/or product names.

Trivial Content: Deal- or client-specific content. Identity trivial content by searching for specific client names.A step-by-step guide to completing a content audit in RFPIO

RFP Content Audit Step 2: Move content out of your active RFP answer library

Once you do your analysis, you’ll want to move that content out of your active RFP answer library.

You have two options:

Option 1: Delete it (scary)

Only delete content that you’re sure you’ll never, ever need again. There’s no turning back from deleted content.

Option 2: Warehouse it (less scary, and my preferred method)

Isolate your content and store it in an RFPIO Archived collection. If you’re not using RFPIO, make sure warehoused content is stored in its own location so it doesn’t get confused with your live content.

You can still access warehoused content. You’re still able to bring it into a live project, update it, and push it back into the active RFP answer library. If you ever find out you need a piece of content that you’ve archived, you don’t have to start with a blank page.

RFP Content Audit Step 3: Set up owners and review cycles

All content in your RFP answer library should have an assigned owner. The content owner should be the Subject Matter Expert (SME) who is responsible for the accuracy of the answer.

You should also add a moderator, who is responsible for giving the final “white glove” review. The moderator should apply editorial standards to each answer that comes through, ensuring everything that is pushed to the live RFP answer library is polished.

How often should you conduct a review cycle?

Well… that depends on the content.

For corporate content, I recommend conducting a review cycle every 90 days. Corporate content refers to any content relating to the company as a whole, like number of employees, revenue, mission statements, etc.

For product content, conduct a review cycle every 6-12 months, or anytime a product release occurs. Product content refers to anything related to specific product features or functionalities that change over time.

As far as evergreen content… you might be surprised to learn it isn’t quite as evergreen as you would imagine. Evergreen content is the core content you use to complete most of your RFPs, and you should still review it once every 12-24 months.How often should you conduct a review cycle? It depends on the content.

A healthy RFP answer library creates benefits across your entire organization

As you’d expect, a healthy RFP answer library enables your proposal team to quickly complete RFP responses—answer 70-80% of a proposal with a quick click using “Auto Respond”.

When you can automatically respond to those commonly-seen questions, that means that your team has more time to focus on tailoring each response to your customers’ specific needs.

A healthy RFP answer library also makes life easier for your SMEs—as I explained in a previous blog, the number one rule of working with SMEs is respecting their time.

When you keep your answer library impeccably clean, your SMEs don’t need to verify content outside of scheduled review cycles. They’ll have more time to focus on their other job functions, and you’ll have an answer library full of the most accurate, up-to-date content. Everybody wins

You may think that auditing your RFP content is just a luxury of enterprise companies. I’m here to tell you that anyone and everyone can (and should) regularly audit their content, regardless of whether your team has one person, or 100.

If you’re working with a one- or two-person team, follow the steps above to keep your content fresh. Make sure your SMEs understand which content they’re responsible for, and get in the habit of updating content at the appropriate time.

If you’re a larger team, hire a dedicated content manager whose sole focus is keeping your RFP answer library healthy.

Show your RFP content (and your RFP response process) who’s in charge

You have the tools to complete a successful RFP content audit. It’s time to put your newfound skills to the test!

If you get stuck along the way, check out my webinar below. I’ve demonstrated my step-by-step process for conducting a content audit in RFPIO.

For those of you not using RFPIO to automate your RFP response process, but want to learn more, schedule a demo! Someone on our team would be more than happy to show you the ins and outs of the platform, and see if RFPIO makes sense for your process.

3 strategies for a consistent and on-brand content library

3 strategies for a consistent and on-brand content library

What do marketing and proposal teams have in common? They both want to demonstrate their company’s strengths in a way that is compelling and impactful. Despite this, proposal and marketing teams tend to manage their respective content in silos, with little collaboration between the two.

When you break content along team lines, messaging becomes inconsistent—or worse, inaccurate. That’s why the proposal team needs a champion who can bridge marketing and proposal teams to keep people aligned and content up-to-date. Who is that person at your organization? Maybe it’s you.

The good news is that aligning proposal and marketing teams isn’t as complicated as you might think. And I’ve already outlined a few simple strategies to get you started.

Replace walls with bridges

When teams become too focused on their tasks and deadlines, they inadvertently build walls around themselves. The higher these walls grow, the more difficult it is to stay aligned. As the self-appointed bridge between your organization’s marketing and proposal teams, it’s your responsibility to tear those walls down.

Kick off the collaboration by gathering the right brains in the same room, and setting up recurring cross-team meetings. Make sure everyone, on both sides, is clear about their responsibilities.

Next, make cross-team communication as easy as possible by setting up a designated channel in your communication platform of choice—be in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts—where team members can go when they’re stuck or have a question.

Once you’ve established regular contact between marketing and proposal teams, they’ll be able to stay aligned on content guidelines and be ready for any changes coming down the line.

Your challenge is maintaining communication between the two sides. Keep collaboration simple. Ensure regular meetings keep happening. The more often the two sides are in contact, the easier it will be to communicate important deadlines, updates, or changes in content strategy.

Set regular review cycles

I like to think of brands as people. When you’re interacting with someone, it goes without saying that we expect them to sound and look the same throughout the conversation.

When customers are interacting with your brand, they expect a similarly uniform experience. Your company should look and sound the same, whenever your prospects are interacting with you, be it on your website, advertisements—or, yes, even proposals.

Proposals inconsistent with the rest of your organization’s content leaves customers with a tangled idea of what your company represents. And when you’re trying to demonstrate your value proposition, the last thing you want is to confuse your customers.

Luckily, we can fix this problem in just three words: Regular review cycles.

Beyond establishing an extended content plan, there is absolutely nothing more important to the long-term success of your content library than setting review cycles, content audits, and careful moderation practices.

Unsurprisingly, both of these elements also play a critical role in bridging the gap between marketing and the proposal management team.

Establishing a healthy review cadence allows your content experts to take a look at volatile or brand-centric content regularly, and creates the space to make any necessary edits before you submit your proposal.

Working Tip: If you’ve already set up review cycles in RFPIO, consider creating a separate cycle for marketing content, and add users from your team who will be plugged into the organization’s brand copy guidelines and priorities.

Stay aligned on content strategy

The cherry on top of excellent content is bringing everyone on the same page. Making sure both proposal and marketing teams are tuned-in to the overarching content strategy reduces miscommunication, misunderstandings, and inconsistencies.

Is there a rebrand on the horizon? Do taglines or other key pieces of brand copy change on a rolling basis? Are new products going to be released that will require additional content?

Understand your organization’s long-term content plan and be aware of any forthcoming copy and branding updates, so you can align proposal content with any changes coming down the pike.

Keeping a pulse on changes will ensure proposals are always aligned with your company’s mission and voice.

“Great things in business are never done by one person”. I’ll have to agree with Steve Jobs on this one. When proposal and marketing teams collaborate on content, messaging is consistent across channels. Proposals are more compelling. And everyone wins.


If you want to learn how RFPIO can help you keep your content organized, up-to-date, and on-brand, schedule a demo today.

Level up your RFP responses through the power of storytelling

Level up your RFP responses through the power of storytelling

Any marketer knows you need to build trust and credibility with your audience from the very beginning. Studies show that 81% of people consider trust to be a key factor in making purchasing decisions, which just goes to show how important it is to develop content that builds trust with your prospects.

In addition to blog posts and customer case studies, RFPs also provide lots of opportunities to establish trust with your prospect. And one of the most powerful ways to achieve this is to incorporate authentic storytelling in your RFP responses. Here are some reasons why you should include impactful stories in your RFP responses and a few tips for getting the process started.

How stories can strengthen your RFPs

Good sales reps know how to uncover their prospects’ needs. But great sales reps know how to use stories to build lasting relationships.

They know that an RFP is not just a sales pitch or proposal. It’s also a great opportunity to make an impact. And the most effective way to make an impact is to tell your organization’s story in a way that resonates with your prospect.

Why are stories so powerful? For one thing, stories are remembered up to 22 times more than statistics, and they also help to make your brand more human. Using stories that speak to your prospect’s needs and pain points can get them to really listen and engage with your brand.

By showing prospects you really understand what they’re experiencing and have a solution to their problems, you set yourself apart from your competitors. Stories are a powerful tool to help you show your prospects why they should choose your product or service over a competitor’s.

Great stories begin with great content

If you’re serious about crafting winning RFP responses, you need to find the right stories to tell. When choosing your stories, make sure they both inform and captivate your readers. To accomplish this goal, ask yourself what your prospect really wants and needs. Having a clear understanding of your target clients and how your company meets their needs can help you figure out the best stories to include in your RFP responses.

You might show how your company was founded to address the specific problems your prospect is looking to solve. Or how your company’s founders understand your prospect’s pain points because they were once in the same position.

When choosing your stories, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Requirement: What are your prospect’s underlying needs?
  • Output: What sort of impact will your product or service have on their business
  • Solution: What problem will your product or service solve for them?
  • Evidence: Why is your product or service the best solution for them? Make sure you use data, testimonials, or customer case studies to explain why.

Once you’ve come up with brand stories that really strike a chord with your prospects, there’s no need to keep updating them. That’s because telling the same story makes you seem reliable and consistent, which helps you stand out. And most importantly, it can help you build trust with your audience and prospects.

So don’t change your stories, but make sure that your message is the same across all marketing channels and in every conversation with prospects and customers.

To keep things consistent, you also need to train your team on how to use storytelling when answering a prospect’s questions and helping them make a buying decision. Let them know that reciting a list of features just won’t cut it when it comes to engaging prospects with your company. Instead, it’s the stories you tell that make the biggest impact on them.

Show your team how to make use of your organization’s story, and how to explain why your product or service is the one prospects need the most.

Why a content library is a must for RFP storytelling

Deciding on which stories to include in your RFP responses is the first step. The next step is making sure your team can access this content quickly and easily.

A high-quality RFP response tells your story with accurate, engaging detail that makes it clear why you stand out from the competition. At the same time, your content needs to be well-organized if you want to communicate this story effectively.

That’s why you need an RFP content library to help you organize your stories so your team can access them quickly when necessary.

Here are some best practices for building your RFP content library:

  • Curate compelling RFP content: When building your RFP library, choose content that both informs your readers and draws them in. Aim for detailed, colorful answers that clearly illustrate the benefits of your product or service and show the human side of your business. Teach your team members how to create compelling stories so they can contribute additional RFP responses to your library.
  • Organize your responses: Once you have your library of responses, you’ll need to organize them. The best way to go about this is to categorize your RFP content using tags and collections so it’s easy for team members to find. There are lots of different technology solutions like RFPIO that you can use to set up a tagging system that works. Make sure your tagging system has clear guidelines for your team members and hold regular training sessions to make everyone’s on board with your tagging strategy.
  • Keep your content fresh: Keeping your content fresh and up-to-date is a must for maintaining a library of RFP responses. Be sure to schedule regular audits to check the quality of your content and update it when needed. During these audits, assign content to subject matter experts and set up a tagging system to help them update and rearrange content.

The power of storytelling in RFP responses

When it comes to RFP responses, remember that RFPs are more than just a sales pitch, but are an amazing opportunity to tell your brand’s story and win over your audience. By bringing effective storytelling into your RFP responses, you can show prospects that you really understand their needs and set the stage for a long-term relationship with them.

Check out my full webinar below to learn more about the importance of using storytelling in your RFP responses. Or request a demo if you want to learn how to use RFPIO to create your own RFP content library.

3 tips for organizing your RFP content library: tagging, custom fields, and collections

3 tips for organizing your RFP content library: tagging, custom fields, and collections

Yay! You just added RFPIO and it’s time to start completing RFPs and security questionnaires (if you’re already an experienced user, stick with us; there’s something for everyone here). Pop the champagne cork! Cue the band. Repeatedly refresh email because congratulatory back-pats are sure to arrive soon from upper management, SMEs (subject matter experts), sales, security, and anyone else who participated in past RFPs.

Now what?

It’s time to build out your Answer Library. Your answer library consists of documents, question and answer (Q&A) pairs and templates that represent the backbone of your RFPIO instance. But tread lightly before proceeding. In a recent RFPIO survey, 50% of proposal managers said keeping response content up-to-date and accurate is their biggest challenge, but only 31% of responders audit their RFP content library as often as once a quarter.

So how can you set yourself up for success to build and maintain content in RFPIO? It starts with tagging, custom fields, and collections, which will also expedite access to relevant information for internal and external users alike.

Here’s how.

But first: You don’t have to go it alone

Start by defining your RFP team. Who is going to be the Champion of RFPIO? Typically, this falls on an executive sponsor or the proposal manager.

Are you the content champion? This is the decision-maker, someone who will own the process of building and maintaining content. If it’s not you, then make sure someone gets designated. No matter how organized you are, this is mandatory.

After you identify the content champion, bring in your content stakeholders. These are all the participants you’ve been working with on past RFPs. It’s likely that these encompass internal and external users. They may be SMEs in different locations, departments, and roles. Identifying their roles and responsibilities will determine how you set up workflows in RFPIO.

Once your team has been identified, it’s time to discuss workflows and organization methods. Remember that you’re only one person, so it’s important to not forget about the rest of the team that will help you achieve RFPIO success. Create and document a plan to communicate content workflows. Make sure all contributors can easily find what they need to complete their assigned tasks. Have the whole team of stakeholders sign-on.

OK, now this is how: Tagging

Segment your content with tags. Tags are simple, general categories to help group your content together and are the first step to take when organizing your content. Every document should have at least one tag. Examples include “onboarding,” “implementation,” and “contracts.”

At this point, you may be wondering how to get started. It’s a common hurdle, especially for companies that have never used tags or any other structured content organization strategies. Within RFPs and security questionnaires that you’ve received, there are sections about company information and other content that you may have just been copy and pasting from document to document. Harvest your initial tagging schema from these generic sections that appear in most of the RFPs you have already submitted.

RFPIO Best Practice: All content needs to have at least one tag. That includes all documents and all question and answer (Q&A) pairs. We recommend no more than three, though, so as to avoid search conflicts within the system.

Is that field “custom”? Sweet!

Every company is unique, which means every company’s content has unique characteristics. For categories that are organizationally unique and allow for flexibility and adaptability in search, our clients leverage Custom Fields. Custom Fields may apply to a product, service, geographic region, or whatever best fits your business. But they do have to make sense. It’s easy to bog the process down with too many custom fields.

RFPIO Client Example: Here’s an example of how custom fields helped a client exponentially improve search of their more than 15,000 Q&A pairs. First, we started with the generic tag of “support,” which whittled 15,000 options down to 800 or so. Already an improvement. But then we tagged all applicable Q&A pairs with a client product name. That drilled down results from 800 to 115. Within two clicks—about 30 seconds—we were able to identify a small subset of applicable content.

Restrict content with collections

Within RFPIO, collections allow you to restrict sensitive content visibility. You create siloed walls around sensitive content based on content that should be restricted to specific users. Good examples of Collections are legal/security data or even geographic data. For example, sales may not need access to legal or high-level proprietary information that legal or security teams need to access. Or a North American team may not need access to some content that is necessary for a European team to access for GDPR compliance.

Why waste users’ time sorting through content they can’t even use? With collections, search is much more efficient.

But what about maintaining content?

Great question. First, always feel free to work with your RFPIO customer success managers to set up demos of specific features. Second, check out the webinar I presented on building and maintaining content in RFPIO for more (below), including live Q&A with participants on:

  • Optimizing Q&A editing
  • Setting up custom fields and collections
  • Conducting bulk updates on multiple pieces of content
  • Using filters for moderation
  • Setting up multiple responses for a single question—one for US-based teams and another for those based in the UK, for example.

If you’re just getting started, then you have a lot to look forward to. 82% of proposal managers said RFPIO helps them manage response content all in one place.

Interested in automating your RFP processes with RFPIO? Schedule a demo to learn more.

Scale organizational content with a response management platform

Scale organizational content with a response management platform

How many times have you written repetitive content in the past week? What about the past year? And, how is your content creation process going these days? While we’re at it…what about the rest of your organization?

Marketers are using a response management platform to eliminate repetition in the content creation cycle and improve their content creation process companywide. But these improvements are not solely reserved for RFP responses.

Hear about some of the creative ways marketers are leveraging RFPIO to support and scale content efforts throughout every facet of their organization.

An accurate knowledge base with less SME involvement

You need up-to-date marketing content all the time. Whether you are building out FAQs for your website or creating one-sheets for your sales team, you must have accurate information about specific products or services.

Today you are likely using a mish-mash of content management tools and methods to keep the latest company content within reach. You’re also enlisting the help of your SMEs (subject matter experts) to update and approve content specifics.

SMEs frequently become bottlenecks in the content creation process as their expertise in high demand. They respond to RFPs, RFIs, security questionnaires—and they help team members like you who rely on their expertise day in and day out. The last thing any of your SMEs want to do is slow things down, but that is precisely what happens without an accurate knowledge base.

Jeff Skott is the Manager of Sales Solution Architects at LexisNexis and he is also a subject matter expert. An account manager recently told him, “Thank you so much for getting RFPIO because now I can just look up the answers I used to have to call your team about.”

A response management solution like RFPIO serves as a knowledge base. It makes expertise transferable and accessible, enabling your marketing team to find the right information quickly. All SME-approved content lives in a centralized answer library so you find accurate content without overly involving your subject matter experts.

Marketing Communication Coordinator Hope Henderson said anyone at Alera Group can simply “type in the product name or the question into RFPIO, then pull answers that have been audited by our subject matter experts.” It’s that easy when you and your SMEs use RFPIO as your go-to knowledge base.

Unify your organization with a single source of truth

Content is everywhere in your organization and you are the gatekeeper of every last sentence. You’re involved in the creation and polishing of branded documents across multiple departments. RFPIO’s unlimited user license model means that everyone at your organization has access to a single source of truth.

Soon after onboarding RFPIO, Sharon Ma of Yext used the platform for a multitude of response use cases: RFPs, vendor questionnaires, security questionnaires, and sales proposals. She quickly saw the opportunity to use the response management platform as a single source of truth for her entire organization, far beyond the Global Bid Desk department she managed.

Sales engineers and product managers experienced the same day-to-day challenges Sharon used to have when she manually responded to business queries—spending too much of their valuable time on a neverending search for documents.

Marketing Analyst and RFP Writer, Andrea Kameron, journeyed down a similar path with Reflexis. Andrea leveraged RFPIO to respond to RFPs and for other marketing uses, like creating marketing analyst reports. Her marketing team enjoyed the benefits of efficient content creation, while other departments still needed a solution.

Today Andrea’s enterprise organization uses RFPIO in many departments, from financial services to legal, from administration to customer support. Andrea said, “RFPIO basically touches every single aspect of operations within our company.”

Document automation for lean and agile project management

Continuous improvement, lean, and agile principles have advocated for document automation as a powerful tool for years. RFPIO integrates document automation seamlessly, not just for RFPs but other aspects of enterprise and project management as well.

Delaney Seebold, Business Development Coordinator with Boundless, said that with RFPIO, “our document library is always up to date. We can access the library for RFI answers and find the right verbiage and collateral.”

All of the hard-working individuals at your company don’t need dozens of variations of a document—and neither do you. As a marketer, broken document management processes bring more brand inconsistency than you can handle.

In the Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes, team members in various departments of the enterprise revealed the following challenges:

  • 49% said they have trouble locating documents
  • 43% have trouble with document approval requests and document sharing
  • 33% struggle with the document versioning

RFPIO’s document library stores the most updated and approved versions of documents in one place. Export functions also help you to format documents to your specific brand guidelines. Every department has what they need, when they need it. Over time, a centralized document library supports lean and agile project management in a way that manual processes can’t.

Your marketing team (and your organization) are ready for a better approach to content management and creation. Schedule a demo of RFPIO to achieve more with a single solution.

How an effective content management system keeps your remote team productive

How an effective content management system keeps your remote team productive

This is the second post in our series #StayConnected, introducing tips, tricks, tools, and features that help teams complete proposals quickly and efficiently, even when they’re not sharing a physical space. Read the first blog here: Keep Your Proposal Team Focused With These 5 Project Management Features.

Your proposal is due tomorrow morning—and here you are scouring through excel sheets to find the answer you know is in there somewhere.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. A McKinsey report found that employees spend nearly 20% of their time looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks.

That’s why successful proposal managers focus on establishing an effective content management system—the less time you spend searching for content, the more time you have to craft compelling messages.

According to the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey, 82% of proposal managers said the most important way they’ve improved their RFP response process is by managing response content all in one place—and 89% said that the Answer Library was their favorite feature.

We’ve gathered everything we know about how proposal managers use content management systems to successfully complete proposal projects with a fully remote team. Read on for insider advice and best practices for keeping your remote team productive and connected.

Empower your team to access content from collaboration tools they’re already using

To make the most out of your content management system, give as many people access to it as possible (RFPIO’s unlimited user licensing model makes this easy).

Giving your entire company access to your answer library not only opens a vast, searchable knowledge base to employees and external partners—but also makes it easy to bring in subject matter experts to answer technical questions about your products and services.

Take this one step further by integrating your knowledge library with collaboration tools your team is already using, including Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts. Rather than logging into a separate application to search through your content library, empower your entire team to access a rich database with a few clicks of a button, from wherever in the world they are.

Enhance your content management system with intelligent search

After you’ve uploaded all your response content into your system, you may end up with several thousand question-and-answer pairs. Instead of asking your response team to comb through this massive amount of content using endless iterations of CTRL + F, expedite the process with intelligent search.

Similar to a Google Search, when you use intelligent search to locate an answer in your response library, the most relevant answers will appear first. Relevance is calculated based on a number of factors, including star rating, number of times used, and date updated.

Additionally—unlike a standard CTRL + F search in a document or spreadsheet—the results will include variations of your search term. For example, a search for “correspond” will return Q&A pairs containing “correspondence” and “corresponding”, as well.

When your team isn’t spending time hunting for answers, they’re able to focus on crafting compelling messages—and help your organization win more deals.

Automate content auditing to keep your knowledgebase accurate and up-to-date

Maintaining an accurate library ensures the best version of your content is ready before the proposal arrives, empowering your remote team to quickly respond to RFPs under deadlines.

The best way to make sure your content stays accurate and up-to-date is through regular content audits.

The most productive proposal managers do this at least once a year, and usually every 3-6 months. Of course, each organization is unique—if you experience frequent changes with pricing or product specifications, you may need to audit your content bi-monthly, monthly, or even weekly.

These teams often lean on proposal automation software to automatically trigger these regular review cycles, sending out reminders to their organization’s specialists—including product management, sales, finance, legal, and IT teams—to double-check content they’re responsible for.

“Content management is the most important part of our RFP response process. We have processes and review cycles in place to make sure our content is always up-to-date. That way we can efficiently respond to RFPs when we have a deadline.”

Lauren Daitz

Sr. Manager, Proposal Department, HALO Recogntion

In a recent article, McKinsey reported that employees who spend less time traveling or commuting and have a better work-life balance are likely to be happier, more motivated, and ready to mobilize in extreme situations.

At RFPIO, we’re helping proposal teams adapt to a fully from-home work environment, by looking at remote work as an opportunity to be taken advantage of, rather than as a challenge to be overcome.

Click here to learn more about how RFPIO can help you optimize the opportunity of working with a fully remote team—and help your team stay connected and productive.

Emphasize your messaging with RFP brand storytelling

Emphasize your messaging with RFP brand storytelling

Stats and facts are powerful in messaging. But stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone, which makes a pretty strong case for developing a brand storytelling strategy for your RFPs.

When responding to RFPs, we marketers typically think about making the messaging professional and concise. We also work hard to ensure accuracy and compliance. Your competitors’ marketing teams are going through these motions as well.

As we’re ticking off the messaging requirements boxes, we’re missing something with our RFP content. That je ne sais quoi that hooks the reader and keeps them engaged until the end. We’re missing the brand story. This is how you make your RFP content more impactful.

Use brand storytelling to build a trusting relationship

81% of people say trust is a deciding factor in their purchasing decisions. When we feel connected to someone or a brand, we develop trust. We are more likely to call on that person or turn to that brand when we need help in their area of expertise.

“Doing business” is not just about what you do. It is about who you are. Brand storytelling is designed to build trusting relationships and deepen the personal connection with your prospects. Below are two examples of how organizations are using brand storytelling to develop trust and connect with their customers.

IBM

IBM launched a health care initiative “outthink melanoma,” which focused on the early detection of melanoma. They developed an AI-powered product called Watson that could detect cancer with 31% more accuracy than the naked eye. This technological advance can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people.

Going after a passion project alongside IBM’s “business as usual” technology made a huge impact on their customers. IBM showed not only do they care about being at the forefront of technology, they also care about helping people.

The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library used brand storytelling to increase their Instagram following by 75% in 2019 with their “Insta Novels” campaign. The library literally brought storytelling into their branded content by sharing full-length classic novels like Alice In Wonderland as Instagram stories.

Using Instagram stories to bring the classics beyond their brick and mortar library building, people around the world were able to have a memorable experience with their brand. It goes to show that even more established brands can succeed with a modern brand storytelling strategy.

RFP response examples that use brand storytelling

When you receive a request for a proposal, much like IBM and The New York Public Library, you have a choice about how you are going to tell your brand’s story. Are you going to tick off all the basic requirements? Or, are you going to try your hand at brand storytelling with RFP responses?

You might be thinking…the RFP questions we receive from issuers are always a complete snooze. What is your organization’s approach? What are your competitive differentiators?

It’s true that you will need to work a bit harder to find the story when you’re responding to RFPs. But, the point is…you can still find it. Below are some RFP response examples that will inspire you to infuse more brand storytelling into your content.

Tell your why

Because you’re a marketer, you already know all about Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.” You might be sick of it, but guess what? It’s a classic gut-check for almost any content you produce, even RFP responses.

What is your organization’s why? Why did your CEO/Founder/President start the company in the first place? Why does your product or service exist? Why are you here?

If we use ourselves as an example (because we too respond to RFPs), our RFP response may look like…

Before founding RFPIO, we were RFP responders too. We often worked overtime to meet deadlines and we spent 30% of our time responding to RFPs manually. We understand how inefficient the process can be. That led us on a mission to make life better for response management teams like yours.

Share a testimonial

Customer experience is a big part of your story. We all read online reviews before we make purchasing decisions and your prospects are no different. Testimonials are an easy way to bring brand storytelling (and customer validation) into your RFP responses. An RFPIO example may look like…

Here is the detailed outline of how RFPIO’s customer success team supports your proposal management team. Lori Coffae, a longtime customer and content writer with SHI, is proof of our commitment to your success. “The team at RFPIO has been tremendous in terms of helping me get other people on board, helping to push the tool forward so we are all using it in the same way…I feel like Andrew works just for me and everyone on the team feels eager and accessible to help.”

Show you’re human

What are you doing in your business that goes above and beyond? In what ways are you giving back to your community? Your team does many great things together, whether you are team-building outside the office or going above and beyond for your customers. Show the human side of your business with RFP response brand storytelling. Our RFP response may look like…

Each quarter RFPIO gives back. Most recently we donated to March of Dimes and supported an organization that believes every baby deserves the best possible start. By giving back, we receive so much more. We not only love to serve our customers but we love to serve our community.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek is right. Reach your prospects on a personal level and demonstrate why you are the obvious choice as a partner. Use brand storytelling to build trust from the moment they read your first RFP response.

RFPIO saves you time, allowing you to focus on bringing more brand storytelling into your RFP content. See how our solution helps you produce quality content.

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