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How to build an effective & scalable proposal program

How to build an effective & scalable proposal program

Everyone has a proposal program. How do you differentiate yours to stay competitive? Many companies want to respond to more […]


Category: Selling & Enablement

How to build an effective & scalable proposal program

How to build an effective & scalable proposal program

Everyone has a proposal program. How do you differentiate yours to stay competitive?

Many companies want to respond to more proposals faster. Many are using proposal automation software like RFPIO as the platform to accelerate their RFP process. The competitive differentiator is how your company builds and manages the program around the proposal automation software.

Overall, you want to build a program that gives you the flexibility to complete what you need now but can also grow with your business in the future. Build for nimbleness. Make it moldable. Fit it around the people and programs that are already in your organization. Build an open architecture so you’re able to accomplish future goals that you’re not even going to be aware of at your initial launch. You also want to make sure your program addresses these seven considerations to optimize your chances of success.

#1 Crafting a mission statement

The mission statement is your proposal team’s anchor. Without it, your program is unmoored. The mission statement gives you the lens you need to see how your program is progressing.

It describes your areas of focus to your team and your customers (the rest of the company). Think of the results you want to realize. How will you impact sales productivity, mitigate bid risk, and minimize subject matter expert (SME) disengagement, for example?

For reference as you compose yours, here’s a sample proposal team mission statement:

Increase sales productivity and empower SMEs by providing the people, processes, and technology to efficiently manage proposal content services while delivering high-quality professional support to the field and partner ecosystem via solicited and unsolicited bids.

  • Create a centrally managed and continually validated repository
  • Become a one-stop shop for proposal content.
  • Scale the delivery of our proposal services globally and efficiently.
  • Develop a reputation for first-class proposal services.

#2 Building the proposal team

Who you decide to put on a team is critical. If you’re trying to improve proposal quality, then you have to have quality people on your team. You need people that can do something with the time savings that the technology platform produces. These are people that can synthesize information, that can build a comprehensive win theme, that understand how to write and edit. They’re learners because they need to understand your business and put it together in a cohesive package. They also need to partner with the sales team. In a way, this is a sales support role, but it’s much more than copy and pasting sales presentations into proposals.

As far as experience, recruit experienced writers and editors who know how to put together a story. If they already work for the organization then all the better—you have “bench depth” that you can turn to for help. These are people that already know your products and services well. If you don’t have existing bench depth, then you need to recruit writers and editors with proposal experience. It’s important to establish credibility and show immediate value across the organization. If team members have done it before, then they’ll be fast learners who can synthesize information into a story.

Your goals for a team culture are collaboration and ownership. For example, if yours is a global company, set up team leads in each region. Provide the collaboration tools, time, and opportunities so leads can meet and work together as mutual resources for troubleshooting issues.

#3 Staying flexible with the right tools

Whether you’re considering RFPIO or another platform, there’s one major consideration you have to address, according to FireEye proposal manager Brian Trigg: “Technology can either lock you in or open you up…the value of proposal technology really is in its ability to aggregate all of this information together, quickly access that knowledge, provide it across all the people that need to know or have input on this information…If you can’t do it openly and easily, then your technology is locking you up.”

#4 Building procedures based on mission

Consider your mission statement when defining your procedural objectives. Policies and procedures need to be set up to help you accomplish your mission. For example, if your mission statement includes emphasis on SME engagement, then you may want to consider implementing procedures that allow SMEs to define their own review cycles. Not only does this check off a key procedural step, it also engenders ownership of the overall program among SMEs.

#5 Showing value through metrics & reporting

Measure your engagement, open pipeline, impact to organization, won deals in number and dollars, content items under management, completed reviews, etc. Set up reporting for these and any other metrics where you can show your value back to the organization.

#6 Flushing out your content library

How do you get new content and fill up your Answer Library? One, create it from scratch (always awesome, but it can be time and labor intensive). Two, use old content, but be careful that it’s not outdated. Three, reverse engineer questions and answers based on message source documents, value discovery guides, data sheets, service descriptions, white papers, and any other marketing materials your company provides.

If your company doesn’t have these, then developing your proposal program gives you the leverage you need to drive their creation. Pitch it as a way that other departments in the company can contribute to consistency of message.

#7 Getting your booster rockets ready: Launch!

Hopefully, you’ve already put in in motion whichever mechanisms you need to solicit executive buy-in on your proposal program. At launch, executive support is essential to establishing company-wide credibility (aka, the booster rockets you need to get your program off the ground). Identify key stakeholders and communicate the benefit of the proposal program. Sell your mission statement through the perspective of how it will help them as executives as well as the company as a whole.

Bend, don’t break

Remember to iterate your program. It’s not going to be a perfect launch. Set up a program that you can flex into, something that you can change easily as you grow.

FireEye’s Trigg sums it up nicely: “Creating a flexible model, providing opportunities for ownership, driving engagement, and designing your content capture strategy properly are going to enable you to scale and synthesize your proposal team from more than a knowledge bank to a strategic part of your approach to market.”

If you would like to consult on how to build your proposal program for long-term success, schedule a demo today.

“The RFP Process Basics” Screenplay: Action!

“The RFP Process Basics” Screenplay: Action!

What’s an RFP? What’s an RFI? What’s a DDQ? Follow the journey of a manager learning about the intricacies of the RFP process for the first time.

[LOCATION: HOME OFFICE OF “KEYES,” THE SALES MANAGER/PROPOSAL MANAGER/MARKETING MANAGER HERO. KEYES LOGS ONTO A VIDEO CONFERENCE WITH “BOSS.”]

KEYES: Hi, Boss. Nice virtual background. That’s the most artistic rendering of taxidermy I’ve seen in some time.

BOSS: Cut to the chase, Keyes. I’ve grown weary of these online meetings. Unless you have a solution to our revenue and inefficiency challenges, I’d rather you send me an email.

KEYES: You’re in luck, sir. It just so happens that’s why I requested this meeting.

BOSS: That’s what I like about you, Keyes. Always presenting answers instead of complaining about problems. Proceed.

KEYES: We can increase revenue by streamlining our RFP process.

BOSS: Brilliant! I like it…no, I love it! Let’s start immediately. Now…

What is an RFP again?

KEYES: An RFP is a Request for Proposal…when a company needs services and products like ours, they issue an RFP to identify the optimal vendor.

BOSS: Sounds like a no-brainer. Why haven’t we been doing this the whole time?

KEYES: We have responded to RFPs in the past, but it’s not exactly a turnkey process…yet. RFPs can be thousands of pages about pricing, functionality, technology, security, company basics, competitive differentiators, and more. Responding puts a strain on our subject matter experts, sales teams, and anyone else who needs to carve out extra time to help with the process.

BOSS: That doesn’t sound efficient at all.

KEYES: Well, then you have to take into consideration RFIs and RFQs, too.

BOSS: Enough with the acronyms, Keyes.

What’s an RFI? What’s an RFQ?

KEYES: Sorry, Boss. Request for Information and Request for Quote. RFIs tend to appear early in the vendor-selection process. Companies issue them to find out if any vendors can help them solve a particular problem. They’re more generic and open-ended and would likely be used to craft a more targeted RFP. RFQs usually show up later in the vendor selection process, usually after we’ve submitted an RFP. This is when the company wants to know specifics on how much our solution will cost.

BOSS: RFPs, RFIs, RFQs… anything else I should know about? Wait, what’s that?!

KEYES: Good eye, Boss. That’s a cheat sheet on writing an executive summary. The executive summary is high-level content that covers the issuer’s challenges and demonstrates how our products and services will help.

BOSS: Sounds like a cover letter.

KEYES: That’s a common misconception, Boss. The executive summary is different from the cover letter. In an executive summary, we provide an executive-level summary of how our solution fixes their problem. In a cover letter, we talk about how great we are.

BOSS: I’m better at that than most.

KEYES: Of course you are.

BOSS: And what do our RFP-winning executive summaries look like?

KEYES: I’ll let you know when we win one.

BOSS: I was afraid you were going to say that.

KEYES: Don’t get discouraged, Boss. I have a plan to turn it around. The right RFP automation software will help us write RFP-winning executive summaries. Just like it will help with DDQs and security questionnaires.

BOSS: What did I just say about acronyms?

What’s a DDQ?

KEYES: Sorry. Last one. The DDQ is the Due Diligence Questionnaire. It’s usually one of the last stages of the response process. In fact, it may come after we’ve already been selected, when the company is doing their final due diligence. It typically involves a few hyper-specific points as part of their standard vendor onboarding protocol.

BOSS: And how is that different from a security questionnaire? In fact….

What even is a security questionnaire?

KEYES: Great question, Boss. Privacy is a hot button, and any company we work with wants to make sure we meet their privacy standards. Security questionnaires generally deal with privacy issues such as compliance, infrastructure security, and data protection. Depending on the company, this questionnaire can be a few hundred or a few thousand questions.

BOSS: Yowza. How long does it take to complete that?

KEYES: Weeks, if we don’t have a response process in place.

BOSS: Excellent. Let’s get it implemented. I’m putting you in charge of it, Keyes.

KEYES: I think that’s a good call, Boss. We’ll start with the 6-step RFP response process.

[CUT TO GRAPHIC OF 6-STEP RFP RESPONSE PROCESS]

BOSS: Looks like I put the right person in charge. You have all the answers, Keyes.

KEYES: Speaking of answers, that reminds of something else that’s essential to a smooth-running RFP process machine.

BOSS: Yes, yes, that’s why I brought it up. What’s on your mind?

KEYES: The Answer Library, Boss. It’s the secret to more efficient RFP content management. It’s what makes massive questionnaires answerable in a few clicks. It’s where content is marketing-approved and always ready to share. And if it’s intelligent—as it should be—it’s able to make recommendations along the way so that we can easily customize every RFP response. Plus, once a subject matter expert answers a question it stays in the library forever. From then on, they can take a reviewer role, saving them time and keeping them focused on their primary job duties.

BOSS: That’s it! You’re the winner, Keyes! Best video conference of the day.

KEYES: Thank you, Boss.

BOSS: No, thank YOU! Now, how do we get started. Will you—dare I ask—issue an RFP? Ha!

KEYES: Good one, sir, but no. I already have someone in mind.

[FADE OUT OF VIDEO CONFERENCE CALL AUDIO. ZOOM OUT TO SEE THE BACK OF KEYES. CUT TO BLACK. ROLL CREDITS]

[END]

How is your RFP process performing? Schedule a demo to see how RFPIO can help transform your RFP period piece into an action-packed RFP-process blockbuster.

Everything you need to know about the RFP process

Everything you need to know about the RFP process

Much like a human, every RFP is different. However, from an anatomical perspective, there are also similarities. Each RFP response your team creates will impact your organization’s win potential. Knowing how to respond to an RFP effectively can increase your chances of landing a deal.

By no means an extensive list of every question that you will encounter as an RFP responder, we picked a few RFP questions and themes to explore. The goal is to help you know what’s coming ahead of time, so you are more prepared with a stronger foundation.

By the time you’ve finished reading this post, you’ll understand that:

  1. Timing is the main difference between an RFP, RFI, and RFQ
  2. There is an effective way and an ineffective way to respond to an RFP
  3. Understanding the anatomy of an RFP helps you create stronger responses
  4. Team success happens by combining process with technology

Once you’ve completed this “lesson,” you’ll have the necessary anatomical background to respond to RFP questions with precision. And, you’ll also understand why RFP software is the primary set of tools you need to operate.

What is the difference between an RFP, RFI, and RFQ?

It’s true…a lot of acronyms get thrown around during the sales cycle. You need to know how to respond well to each request, so you have a better chance of making it to the next part of the process—and eventually, that happy day when you close the deal.

The difference between an RFP (Request for Proposal), RFI (Request for Information), and RFQ (Request for Quote) involves timing during the sales process. An RFP is issued early on when Company A needs a diverse, in-depth set of information about Company B to aid their vendor selection process. An RFI or RFQ occurs later when Company A needs additional information or specific requirements beyond the RFP.

RFP (Request for Proposal)

While RFI and RFQ can be classified together, an RFP is really in a category of its own. This document is typically lengthier than an RFI or RFQ, because it stirs up anything you can possibly think of that relates to your organization. Pricing, functionality, technology, security, company basics, competitive differentiators…phew! We’re barely scratching the surface here. And you as the RFP responder must tackle ALL of these questions.

RFI (Request for Information) and RFQ (Request for Quote)

An RFI and RFQ can be classified together in regards to sales process timing. They usually show up later when an organization is close to making a final decision. This might happen after you’ve completed an RFP. Or, if you skipped responding to an RFP because you already made it to the final stage of the selection process, you may see an RFI or RFQ at that point instead.

Still with us? It’s time for the bonus acronym round…

DDQ (Due Diligence Questionnaire)

Similar to an RFI, a DDQ arrives much later in the sales process. In fact, it might even come after they’ve selected you as a vendor when they haven’t signed agreements yet and they’re doing their final due diligence. This document inquires about a few hyper-specific points as part of their standard company protocol.

RFx (Request for…)

An RFx is a term for the entire “request for” family of documents. This is important to know if you’re looking for technology like RFP software to help you respond to multiple documents. When you need to handle the entire family of possible requests, a solution like RFPIO can help you with these variations.

How to respond to an RFP effectively

Now that you feel confident about the definition of these wonderful sales acronyms, you have a better idea about which document will be coming your way—and when. As you can tell, of the potential request documents that might be issued to your organization, the RFP will likely require the most effort.

So, the question is: Do you know how to respond to an RFP? There’s really an effective way and an ineffective way to respond to an RFP.

The effective way to respond to an RFP

  1. Exceptional teamwork happens with every RFP project.
  2. Communication is clear and easy for all contributors.
  3. A documented RFP process serves as the anchor for your team.
  4. Content is easily accessible in an answer library.
  5. The answer library is always relevant to ensure quality.
  6. There is plenty of time to spare before the deadline.
  7. Branding and messaging is on point every time.
  8. A healthy percentage of these RFPs result in business won.

The ineffective way to respond to an RFP

  1. Teams and departments work in distinct silos.
  2. SMEs feel frustrated to contribute because of inefficiencies.
  3. Nobody owns the RFP response process.
  4. Responders can’t find content when they need it.
  5. Spreadsheets, emails, and online folders “store” historic responses.
  6. RFP contributors work after hours and weekends to meet deadlines.
  7. Inconsistent fonts and language are compromising the deliverable.
  8. A high percentage of these RFPs result in business lost.

The effective way is made possible with both a great internal process and technology that offers continued support. The ineffective way is the result of a manual RFP response approach where a lack of direction, process, and accessibility cause great inefficiencies.

Teams using RFP software experience a much more streamlined process. They not only cut their response time down, they also improve the quality of the responses to win more deals. Yet, only 16% of organizations are using RFP software to support their efforts.

This is a disservice to busy teams, who can benefit from a tool that helps them manage a lengthy document like an RFP. As we dig into the anatomy of an RFP, it’s easy to see just how many sections there are to handle—and how technology is really the right move here.

Understand the anatomy of an RFP response

Ready for your RFP anatomy lesson? From “head to toe,” here are some questions you will likely come across in an RFP.

Your homework as a responder is to familiarize yourself with the nuances of an RFP, so you can pass your prospect’s test with flying colors. Analogies aside, understanding these different questions and themes will help you craft stronger responses to win the next opportunity.

Company Information

“27% rated project management flow during the content creation process as ‘fair,’ revealing that some projects moved along efficiently but they faced bottlenecks.” – Content Marketing Institute

Though it may seem like a basic part of an RFP response, company information can be tough for teams. This content includes all of the foundational pieces for your organization: company name, address, annual revenue, employee count, website URL, year founded, etc.

While HQ’s address is an easy one, the employee count is not. Depending on company growth the number of employees might change dramatically every year or even every quarter. RFP software automates this basic content in your answer library, ensuring the most accurate information is on-hand for team members.

Executive Summary

Responding to an executive summary is tricky in an RFP, but it’s also one of the factors that affects your organization’s chances of winning. Though usually an optional section, this particular content section allows you to stand out by adding some flavor to your deliverable.

All too often responders mix up the RFP executive summary with the cover letter—but they are two distinct sections. An executive summary is high-level content that covers the issuer’s challenges, and demonstrates how your solution will help. While a cover letter is more of a conversational introduction that mentions your reason for responding and what you are providing in your RFP response.

Need a cheat sheet for your next RFP executive summary? Enjoy…

Competitive Differentiators

There’s a high probability that you will be asked to state your competitive differentiators when responding to an RFP. Here are some examples of what that question might look like:

  • What is the competitive advantage of your solution?
  • Describe your competitive position relative to your competitors.
  • When comparing yourself to the market, what are the unique selling points?
  • Briefly state how you are differentiated from any competitors.
  • Why should we work with you instead of one of your competitors?

Speaking of competitors…a generic RFP response to this particular question will only benefit your competitors dazzling the issuer with a great response. Instead of using jargon-y adjectives that everyone else uses, focus on demonstrating the value your solution provides.

Knowing company differentiators is half the battle for many organizations—take the time internally to explore what these are and how to communicate them. Once you have these locked down, make sure the best versions are readily available for your team to grab and tailor appropriately within your answer library.

“A value proposition offers clients something they want and gives them a good reason to choose you over your competitors. In the executive summary and in your full proposal, communicate a strong value proposition that matches your client’s needs and demonstrates your unique offer.” – APMP Body of Knowledge

Our Approach

The approach question is a seemingly straightforward inquiry. However, similar to competitive differentiators, this is another RFP response that teams struggle to execute well.

If someone were to ask who you are as a person, how would you answer them? You might go with a safe answer about your line of work and what you do. Or, you might share a little bit about what you value and believe in. There is no right or wrong way to answer this, because you are made up of all of these things.

When you respond to the approach question of an RFP, think about who your organization is along with what you do. Explain your methodology and how your solution benefits your customers. Also demonstrate why you do what you do to show your greater purpose behind offering the solution.

Branding

How does content impact an RFP response? Majorly. Which is why marketing teams often own this piece. Branding isn’t a specific question per say, but more about how the final RFP deliverable is presented. Messaging, font style, and any visual design must align with your brand.

Due to the collaborative nature of RFP responses, you end up with many voices and styles from SMEs who don’t always have their pulse on branding guidelines. Random fonts and bullet points combine with an ancient logo from eight years ago for a big design headache. Technical jargon makes sense to the expert, but isn’t engaging for the issuer reading the response.

To achieve a consistent look and feel when it’s time to wrap up the RFP project, manually fixing the branding bloopers can cost marketing a lot of time. RFP software helps teams save hours during the export process with templates that ensure consistency for a higher quality deliverable.

Learn How RFP Software Empowers the High-Performing Marketer

rfp response marketing

Security

Security is a concern for modern organizations and this topic is becoming more and more common in RFPs. You will either need to address your internal processes by responding to a specific section of the RFP or you may need to respond to a separate security questionnaire. It’s also quite possible that you will do all of the above.

A security questionnaire might arrive at the same time as an RFP, or along with the DDQ if you’re further along in the vendor selection process. Depending on your industry, a security questionnaire might have anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand questions.

security questionnaire template

RFP software supports teams who are responding to these massive spreadsheets. Auto-response fills in the majority of questions from the start of the project. A template designed for even the largest Security Questionnaires imports the content in a single click. Technology makes a big difference in time-savings and providing the most accurate responses.

Pricing

To share pricing or to not share pricing…that is the question. As an RFP responder, you must answer this one way or another. There is a strategic decision to be made about pricing depending on many factors.

If you provide pricing in your RFP response upfront, you have less control over the conversation around pricing. Negotiation and discussion are replaced by numbers on a page. So, you might decide to hold off on providing pricing until you have advanced further in the RFP response process.

Like anything else, as long as you show the value of your product or service, the pricing should not disqualify you. In this case, you could get away with maneuvering around this question by sharing benefits of your pricing model without getting into exact numbers. It’s really up to your organization on this one, and you could test RFP responses over time to see if the price reveal is working for you or against you.

Support / Customer Service

Today’s buyer has many, many choices. When they choose your solution, they want to make sure they have a partner who will stick around to offer support long after the purchase. Your response is an opportunity to make your organization stand out as the obvious partner.

This is a great time to take advantage of subject matter experts from your appropriate service department to clearly explain these benefits. Do you have a help center where they are able to self-educate? Do you offer onboarding sessions and in-depth webinars to ensure they start and continue on the right path? When you respond to this question, you can highlight your service in a number of ways.

More powerful than your voice is the voice of your customer. So, another good move is to share validation from your happy customers. This could be a review or customer success story that covers the positive experience they had while working with you. Like this one…

“RFPIO’s customer service is amazing! Between weekly training and addressing questions with platform improvements in a matter of days, onboarding has been a pleasure rather than a chore.” – Lauren Daitz, Senior Manager at HALO Recognition

Including a great review can make a big impact with an issuer. All of your competitors are answering this same question—and they might be answering it the same boring way, with a generic rundown. Play to your strengths and to their emotions with a little storytelling.

Legal

With RFP responses, your legal team will be involved at some point. Specific wording must be used to stay in line with certain legalities. Legal might come in during the review process or to answer legal questions.

Collaboration with your legal team is much easier with RFP software. There is always a healthy amount of redlining in Google and Word docs when legal chimes in with feedback. This can all be handled within a solution to make communication and finalization easier on everyone.

Past responses that are “legal team approved” can be stored in your answer library as well to populate responses with correct information. That way legal only has to perform a quick review rather than repeating themselves every time a similar question arises.

General Requirements / Situational Requirements

Speaking of repetition, general requirements are the questions you have answered thousands of times on every other RFP for your product or service. They can be disqualifiers or “knock-out” questions you plow through quickly.

On the other hand, situational requirements are gaining popularity with RFPs. With these questions you respond to a scenario, rather than just saying “yes” or “we have this feature.” The issuer might spell out a problem and ask you the following:

  • How would your software handle this situation?
  • How would your solution solve this problem?
  • How would your approach alleviate this issue?

…no pressure, right?

Situational requirements require a thoughtful response that demonstrate how your solution is the right choice for them. As such, they take more time to craft and refine. These responses should reinforce some of the strongest parts from your competitive differentiators and approach.

Again, RFP software is highly useful for knocking both general requirements and situational requirements out of the park. All content is already stored in the answer library. Search functionality helps you select the most relevant response in seconds, versus endlessly digging through emails and folders—or rounding up a committee of SMEs and marketing to constantly create fresh content.

Combine a great RFP response process with technology

Nice work, RFP responder! You made it through your RFP response anatomy lesson. We hope you feel more confident about the next RFP that lands in your inbox.

By combining a great RFP response process with technology, your team will submit a quality deliverable that has a higher potential to land the deal. And, it will all happen in less time so you and your team can operate with greater precision and move on to other priorities.

Ready to improve RFP response operations? Reach out and we’ll show you how RFPIO can help you manage everything.

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.

3 ways technology improves the response process for remote teams

3 ways technology improves the response process for remote teams

Once upon a time, you had to walk around the office and ask collaborators to send you what you needed to respond to an RFP. As the digital revolution took hold, it became necessary to manage the process virtually across multiple geographies, languages, teams, and time zones.

Now that teams all over the world are learning to work remotely, RFP software has become even more important. One survey found that 47% of workers want to work from home one to four days a week, even after it’s safe to return to the office. 40% want to be remote all the time.

Because RFP response is one of the most collaborative activities an organization undertakes, proposal management teams are seeking out RFP software that helps them:

  • Embrace data-driven project management.
  • Free up strategic resources by automating administrative tasks.
  • Integrate workflows to capture, qualify, collaborate on, and respond to proposal requests.

What they’ve found in solutions such as RFPIO is that RFP software helps them drive the RFP process for remote teams in three key ways.

#1: Improve RFP management by breaking responses into manageable sections

The first thing you do when an RFP comes in is determine the resources and content required. How many sections are there? What sort of subject matter expertise is needed? And how do we ensure deadlines are met? When done manually, this could mean pasting sections into multiple documents, noting sections and sub-sections, and gathering content from disparate sources—a labor-intensive process for even the most experienced proposal manager.

When you upload an RFP document into RFPIO, artificial intelligence (AI) systems take over and help you auto-identify content requirements. Within minutes, you can know how many questions there are, which SMEs (subject matter experts) to involve, how many authors will be needed, and where potential bottlenecks may arise.

RFPIO also converts a one-dimensional RFP document into a dynamic, collaborative work environment where you can analyze bid requests, forecast resources, assign work, and track progress. It can be organized and quickly broken down into related question and answer (Q & A) fields. That way you don’t have to email an overwhelming source file to multiple responders. Instead, you can send collaborators only the necessary bite-sized sections that matter to them most.

Other benefits of creating a live work environment out of a stagnant document include:

  • Assigning tasks to responders with the most relevant expertise AND the time to contribute.
  • Monitoring what all authors and reviewers are working on to determine their workload and track their assignments.
  • Setting up and sending automated task notifications and reminders to keep collaborators on schedule. They can even be a guest working outside of the organization as an external user.
  • Allowing collaborators to respond directly in the task notification or reminder without the need to dig through attachments or file folders to find the content in question.
  • Visualizing overall progress and understanding resource costs of responding to each proposal.

#2: Save time by leveraging automation technology and centralizing content

Nobody likes spending their time answering the same question over and over again. That’s why RFPIO’s ability to automatically answer common questions is so valuable. Auto-response eliminates repetitive work and gives SMEs more time to focus on their specific areas of expertise. It’s a sophisticated feature that essentially lets proposal managers take heavy asks like…

“Hey, can you write down and define all the services that we offer?”

…and reframe them into simple questions like…

“Hey, RFPIO says these services apply to this RFP. Can you check to make sure they’re accurate?”

SMEs appreciate their time being valued. Proposal managers appreciate the fast turnaround. If you find auto-response technology tantalizing (who wouldn’t?) and want to learn more, go to the 19-minute mark in my webinar (below) for details.

Auto-response technology is made possible by a comprehensive answer library. SMEs don’t need to take the time to provide answers to this library. It’s passively populated every time they answer a question. If you want, you can add a reviewer or moderator. Whether it’s through email, Slack, Google Docs, or individual spreadsheets, RFPIO harvests that response to build an intelligent knowledgebase. Eventually, it’s commonplace for organizations to answer 70-80% of an RFP with their auto-response technology powered by their unique answer library.

Final RFP submissions include more than just Q & A pairs. They’ll have whitepapers, case studies, graphics, documents, and other content that needs to be easily searched, formatted, reviewed, and attached to response packets. RFPIO allows you to centralize all of that content without changing how it’s currently organized. Keep it in SharePoint, Google Chrome, CRM, Google Drive, OneDrive, or wherever, but make it searchable and retrievable through RFPIO.

#3: Make informed decisions on which bids you’re more likely to win

When you plug RFPIO in and start using it, you start amassing data. What’s working, what isn’t, win rates, time-to-completion, profiles of issuers, and much more.

For proposal managers, one valuable use of this data is to create a designated intake area for proposal requests. This achieves two goals: one, it helps you capture proposal requests; and two, it helps your company make data-driven decisions as to whether or not to pursue a proposal:

  • See all requests, including project details, client information, and supporting documents all in one place.
  • Gain visibility into the best authors for projects, how many days it will take to complete, and the estimated value based on prior outcomes.

This is an immensely beneficial feature. You can learn more about how it works at the 29-minute mark of my webinar.

Focus on the win

When RFPs come in, they can be both exciting and overwhelming. While the promise of winning the RFP should be the focus, teams often fall victim to worrying about barriers to success. Everything from how much time will be consumed to who will manage the whole process to how to manage version control problems creep to the surface. RFP software will help keep the organization focused on the excitement of a potential win.

Watch my full webinar, below, to learn more about how to use technology to improve the response process. Or, schedule a demo to find out how RFP software can help your proposal team, whether you’re remote or back in the office.

What can you expect in a security questionnaire?

What can you expect in a security questionnaire?

Even if you have been an RFP warrior for only a short time, you probably have dealt with security questionnaires containing hundreds of questions. As data privacy concerns grow and data breaches become more damaging, your customers will expect increasingly more robust security programs. For you, as a vendor, this means you’ll need to demonstrate practices your company has put in place to protect customers’ data against thousands of threat sources and hackers.

My goal in this article is to increase your security questionnaire “savviness”—and save you many, many hours—by showing you how to start building a reusable library of documents and answers. By the end of this post, I aim to increase your knowledge of types of questions and documents requested in a typical security questionnaire. Hopefully, with this extra bit of knowledge at your fingertips, you will be better equipped and feel more confident in dealing with security questions yourself (and perhaps not go looking for your friend in IT).

Below is a summary of types of questions and documents requested in a security questionnaire (and information you should always have handy in your content library):

Security compliance certificates (e.g. SOC2 or ISO)

Proof of security compliance certifications is the most commonly requested piece of information in a security questionnaire. These documents are a stamp (in fact a BIG STAMP) from an authoritative body (such as AICPA or ISO) stating that your company complies with industry best practices and objectives. The certificate itself is an answer to many questions in the security questionnaire, so definitely have yours handy in your content library.

These certificates are typically re-issued annually, so you should make sure you always have the latest one. If your organization has an IT Compliance team, ask them for the latest certifications. If there is no compliance team, then the Infosec team or designated CISO would be the best person to reach out to. If you’re looking for a streamlined way to manage your IT compliance, you might consider following in the footsteps of many successful organizations who hook their RFP response system up with an IT GRC tool like ControlMap.

Cybersecurity policies and policy documents

Policies establish the ground rules of cybersecurity in a company, consequently becoming the next most common set of security questions asked. These questions act as a tool for customers to assess IT security, data privacy, and business resiliency of vendors such as you.

Cybersecurity policy questions cover a comprehensive set of security areas and are often the most time-consuming. Here’s a sample of different policies you’ll likely be asked about:

  • Information security
  • Physical security
  • Application security
  • Infrastructure security
  • Network security

The Office of CISO maintains answers to policy questions, so that’s an excellent place to start. Assign cybersecurity questions to them. You may also want to get hold of the policy documents for your content library. Most of the time, snippets from policy documents serve as answers to items in the security questionnaire, but in other cases, you must attach the complete policy documents as a response.

I recommend that you at least aim to have the top 10 commonly requested policy documents in your RFP content library, along with answers to policy questions. The policies and the related documents are updated at different frequencies, so setting up an automated check-in with content owners—ensuring you always have the latest version on hand—will save you a lot of time in the long run.

Security procedures

The next set of commonly seen questions are about security procedures. These questions assess the security procedures put in place by vendors, such as you, to safeguard customer information, data, and systems. Most often, these include HR and IT operations procedures dealing with employees, information systems, and business resilience. Commonly requested procedures include:

  • Procedures for employee security awareness training
  • Procedures for patching, upgrading, and mitigating vulnerabilities on servers or desktops
  • Incident management procedures in case of a security breach or other incident
  • Disaster recovery and business continuity plan in case of prolonged downtime
  • Monitoring and tracking for malicious activity

Assign these questions to your IT Operations, HR Operations, and IT Compliance teams, as they own and operate these workflows and processes most regularly. Usually, procedures are stored in departmental wikis or document folders. To make sure all relevant content is stored in the same place, link to these folders or export documentation into your response document library.

IT risks and mitigation controls

The most important questions are related to the risk management practices of a vendor’s organization. Your customer has to accept the third-party risk they face, so they want to know what IT threats and vulnerabilities impact them the most and what you, as a vendor, are doing to mitigate those risks.

Top questions in the area of risk management include:

  • Submit a risk management plan
  • Identify the list of risks that could directly impact the customer’s data and information systems
  • Describe the risk assessment methodology
  • List security controls in place to mitigate the risks
  • List personnel/roles responsible for risk management

IT Compliance teams are responsible for IT risk management plans and maintaining a list of security controls that mitigate the risk—so reach out to them. Compliance teams regularly perform a risk assessment and update the security controls. Please ensure regular check-ins with the compliance team for latest and updated copies of all reports

Next steps for streamlining your security questionnaire response

I hope you feel a little bit wiser about how security questionnaires are organized. There could be many different ways to structure a questionnaire or a question, but it rarely falls outside of the categories discussed above.

If you’re dealing with multiple questionnaires at a time—and want to ensure each questionnaire is accurate and up-to-date—I’d recommend using RFP software to simplify your process. Many successful companies use RFP software to respond to security questionnaires, cutting down response time by over 50%.

See if RFP software makes sense for your workflow by scheduling a demo here.

Modernize your RFP process to support the healthcare sales cycle

Modernize your RFP process to support the healthcare sales cycle

Technology continues to rapidly change the healthcare industry every year. Successful organizations are those who integrate technological tools to automate work and streamline processes. Those who don’t automate and streamline simply won’t be able to compete in today’s landscape.

In healthcare organizations, the RFP process is a vital component of securing new business. Prospects consider your organization’s RFP response as a determining factor in the vendor selection process.

Your team must balance the creation of compelling response content with healthcare compliance. By modernizing your RFP process with automated technology, you will effectively support your healthcare sales cycle, win more deals, and grow your organization.

Coordinate teams with a collaborative RFP process

Winning competitive deals requires specialized knowledge and input from team members across departments. A collaborative RFP process integrates the best minds of your organization. Compelling data and insights are incorporated into any documents your team responds to—RFPs, RFIs, sales proposals, DDQs, and security questionnaires.

Departments frequently work in silos, but you still need to get the right minds involved in the RFP process. Establishing a collaborative RFP response process holds team members accountable. Empowering your team with RFP management tools makes it easier to gather appropriate subject matter experts when and where they are needed most.

Without leveraging technology in the RFP response process, teams do their best with what they’ve got: paper documentation, email chains, text files, and spreadsheets. As healthcare teams co-author content, RFP software gives them greater flexibility to keep content up-to-date and accurate.

Strengthen compliance in the healthcare sales cycle

Healthcare is one of the most regulated industries in the world. The need for compliance is only expected to grow in the United States, with the Bureau of Labor and Statistics projecting compliance officers to increase by 8% over the next several years.

From privacy laws and rules to state and federal regulations, healthcare compliance is a key factor when submitting RFPs in your industry. It’s the responsibility of each RFP contributor to respond with the most accurate and factual content available.

RFP software makes it easier for your team to handle compliance demands throughout the healthcare sales cycle. The answer library stores all of your response content in a centralized location.

Whether a salesperson is answering a prospect email or a proposal manager is responding to an RFI, the most current product or service content is readily available. Now, if your compliance or legal teams need to get involved, they only need to partake in a quick sign-off rather than spending time tracking down or reworking compliant responses.

Supporting the healthcare sales cycle with RFP software

Due to heavy industry regulations, healthcare organizations have historically been slow to adopt new technologies. It’s very easy for teams to be set in their ways, continue using antiquated systems and workarounds for the sake of familiarity.

But, familiarity doesn’t translate to efficiency in most cases. It also doesn’t translate to winning deals, as responders fall into a habit of submitting subpar content when they rush the RFP response process.

Those teams who modernize their process with RFP software see noticeable improvements in productivity and quality soon after adoption and onboarding.

Save time

RFP software offers an intuitive interface that requires minimal training so teams across departments can hit the ground running. The platform integrates with tools you’re already using, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, as well as popular CRMs, such as Salesforce and Hubspot. Powered by artificial intelligence and auto-respond features, the answer library is built for speed and accuracy.

Store knowledge

Collective knowledge from your subject matter experts is stored in a centralized answer library. If an SME leaves the organization, your content is safe and sound. If an SME is unavailable during an RFP project, responders have access to SME-approved content. With a stronger knowledge repository, RFP software protects your team during company transitions or tight project deadlines.

Maintain compliance

RFP software gives your team the ability to stay on top of audits, so answer library content is always groomed and up-to-date. Set a reminder at your preferred content audit cadence (i.e. monthly, quarterly, annually). Your “content gatekeepers” then field Q&A pairs to ensure only the most compliant content is selected by other responders at your organization.

When you combine a collaborative RFP process with RFP software, your team submits responses with greater confidence and efficiency. Modernize your process with RFPIO.

Gain focus with new habits and dedicated sales enablement tools

Gain focus with new habits and dedicated sales enablement tools

Focus is something all salespeople want more of. As your sales organization grows to a certain size, this theme becomes paramount.

The focus theme tends to get thrown around a lot with today’s sales teams. Saying “we need to focus more” is not the same as “In what areas do we need to focus more?”

You and your team need to sit down together in front of a whiteboard and hash this out. Figure out what “focus” means for you right now so you can meet sales objectives by the end of the year.

All you want to do is reach your goals and minimize distractions. First we’ll explore new habits to help you gain focus, then get into specific ways dedicated sales enablement tools like RFPIO support your productivity and content management efforts.

The daily habits of successful salespeople

We all live in a world of distractions. When you work in a numbers-driven, goal-focused environment, you’re still expected to perform at a high level by moving past these distractions. Successful salespeople constantly work on improving daily habits so they can increase their focus.

1. Embrace and execute your unique skill sets.

Salespeople are not just running demos all day. You’re also running trials, answering prospect questions, and responding to RFPs and security questionnaires. All of these tasks require unique skill sets. Successful salespeople hone these skill sets and execute accordingly.

2. Manage your time and be realistic.

The best salespeople are smart about managing their time and they are diligent in how they spend it. To manage your time effectively, set a schedule and focus on the task at hand. When focusing becomes difficult, find creative ways to win back your focus. Automate tasks whenever possible and improvise when things don’t go as planned.

3. Know the product you’re selling.

Knowing the product you’re selling seems like a given, but salespeople don’t spend enough time continuing product and market education. You need to be an expert on your product or service, and be able to communicate value to your prospects. Focusing on continued education can help increase the quality of sales conversations and effectiveness when selling.

4. Keep looking ahead by forecasting.

A big part of focusing means looking ahead, so you know exactly what you’re working toward. Accurate forecasting is highly regarded in a sales environment—and usually, forecasting is a required skill for salespeople. Skilled sales professionals are able to forecast months or quarters ahead, with little variance.

Having dedicated sales enablement tools

There are a variety of sales enablement tools on the market designed to help manage various tasks on your plate. Unlike working with multiple tools, having a dedicated sales enablement tool helps increase and improve focus for your sales team—especially when that tool is directly tied to helping them achieve their quota.

Let’s take responding to RFPs and security questionnaires as an example. I talk with responders all the time who are using sales enablement tools. Oftentimes they don’t have a dedicated solution that directly supports them with response content.

These responders work in spreadsheets and communicate constantly by email. They can’t find their response content when they need it. They might have a content management platform storing all of their response content, but they can’t invite others to the platform to collaborate easily or receive suggestions for answers to questions.

With a dedicated sales enablement tool like RFPIO, your team can focus more closely on the task at hand. It’s significantly easier to collaborate with your proposal manager and subject matter experts—and external contractors and prospects—and you have more visibility and clarity throughout the entire RFP project.

How RFPIO serves as a sales enablement tool

RFPIO isn’t just for responding to RFPs. Our response management platform serves as a sales enablement tool that brings more focus to your response tasks and other sales activities. Here’s how…

Clear visibility into the response project

When we lack focus, we usually lack visibility. A response project can include any business query you respond to—like proactive proposals, DDQs, RFIs, security questionnaires—in addition to RFPs.

With RFPIO, you see response project updates in real-time. Dashboards list everything you need to know, from deadlines to assigned questions. Beating out your competitors means submitting quality documents on time. By knowing exactly where your project stands, you’ll feel confident about meeting your prospect’s deadline.

Quick access to company knowledge

Another reason you don’t feel focused? You can never find the content you need. In sales, you field prospect questions constantly. The answer library keeps updated company knowledge accessible anytime you need it.

Search keywords that relate to a question and you’ll locate the answer you need. Filtering by tags is another way to track down content. A favorite sales enablement feature is RFPIO Lookup, a Chrome extension that serves as an extension of your answer library. A response management solution brings more focus whenever you’re on the information hunt.

Effective sales training for your team

Being focused comes down to having the expertise to sell confidently. But, what happens when you onboard new sales reps? Nobody can find the latest product information on Google Drive. Information is floating in emails and documents haphazardly.

In addition to storing written answers about your company and products, you can also store documents in RFPIO, allowing reference materials like current training documents and product one-sheets to co-exist in one place.

When a new sales rep joins your team, they explore information from a centralized location and find documents they need to do their job well. When the processes, content and support mechanisms for training sales reps are efficient and consistent, your organization only becomes stronger.

RFPIO is a dedicated sales enablement tool that helps sales teams like yours gain focus. Reach out to us if you’re ready to empower your team.

Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Responders play a pivotal role in winning new business for enterprise organizations. You are a key team member who wears many hats. From content writer to marketing and sales, you add tremendous worth to your organization’s growth strategy.

Your leadership is particularly apparent in the enterprise sales cycle, where the process is long, complex, and high-stakes. A competitive RFP demonstrates to prospective enterprise clients that you understand their pain points and that you are the organization that adds the most value.

Read on to discover how you can pursue highly lucrative opportunities in the enterprise sales cycle with more efficiency and ease.

What is enterprise sales?

Enterprise sales refer to the acquisition of large contracts that involve a higher level of risk than more traditional sales seen in small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Enterprise sales cycles are long, involving multiple decision-makers that bring about large-scale corporate solutions. Contrast this with SMB sales cycles, that are short, lower risk, and fueled by marketing and sales. Enterprise sales offer solutions that are mission-critical to the success of the enterprise, directly impacting business operations at a strategic level.

In general, the enterprise sales model involves solutions that are highly complex, requiring the brains of various subject matter experts. These large-scale enterprise solutions often necessitate more training and customer support.

The role of RFPs in the enterprise sales cycle

Responding to RFPs plays a crucial role throughout the enterprise sales cycle. Unlike SMB sales that often focus on marketing to win the contract, enterprise sales must address various components, including onboarding, security, support, and automation.

Make no mistake, RFPs always require the input of many different SMEs. This intensive collaboration from subject matter experts is even more apparent and necessary in the case of enterprise sales.

Most RFPs are submitted in the final eight hours before the RFP is due. Of these, 35% are submitted in the final hour. Submitting close to the RFP deadline is fine if your team is taking your time to fine-tune your response content. It’s not fine when you’re figuring out content creation at the last-minute. Your organization could miss out on potentially valuable, highly-lucrative contracts just because you didn’t have time to produce high-quality content and go the extra mile.

Although the enterprise sales cycle is long and the acquisition costs are steep, the rewards are enormous. For these big-ticket proposals, it’s imperative that your enterprise has an efficient RFP response process in place. In doing so, your teams can provide the level of detail required for each proposal to close large-scale accounts.

Proposal software brings ease to the enterprise

Andrea Kameron is an RFP analyst at Reflexis Inc. who integrated RFPIO into her enterprise tech stack. Soon after bringing RFPIO to her organization, her response management team reduced the RFP completion time span by one week. Over the next few months, Reflexis doubled efficiency and submitted twice as many RFPs as before.

With proposal software, Andrea can organize questions into sections so they are presented to internal collaborators in a very clear and straightforward way.

How does this approach help streamline and automate the enterprise sales cycle? It encourages the RFP responder to use content already available in the library, rather than tag-teaming the Q&A content to already time-burdened SMEs across departments.

Here are a few other benefits of using proposal software like RFPIO to support the enterprise sales cycle.

Brand consistency

Brand consistency is one of the most common challenges for RFP responders. Because many different SMEs are involved throughout the enterprise sales cycle, each player has their own idea of what makes for the most attractive font types, headers, and bullet point styles. Proposal software resolves visual inconsistencies, thanks to systematic exporting capabilities.

Multi-dimensional response platform

Unlike traditional proposal software, RFPIO is a response management platform that supports many use cases beyond responding to RFPs. Use RFPIO to respond to any business queries: RFx (RFIs, RFQs, RFPs), statements of work (SOW), security questionnaires, proactive proposals, and sales proposals.

Centralized, collaborative, and compliant

A centralized answer library allows your team to easily find and repurpose content. Because RFPIO has an unlimited user model, your enterprise team works in a collaborative environment to quickly produce standout content. To maintain compliance requirements, simply set up automated content audit reviews and invite your legal and compliance teams to leverage the platform.

By minimizing the content time investment during the enterprise sales cycle, you’re able to focus on crafting a captivating narrative that speaks to your prospect’s objectives and makes your enterprise solution stand out. Proposal software supports your sales efforts, so you can focus on landing the next big deal with greater efficiency and ease.

Ready to master the enterprise sales cycle? See how RFPIO benefits your enterprise team and supports your sales goals.

Elevate the RFP process in your asset management organization

Elevate the RFP process in your asset management organization

In asset management, the RFP process is critical to winning new business. The prospect directly references your RFP document during the sales conversation. You must convey your organization in the most professional, appealing manner possible.

You’re here looking for ways to improve your RFP process flow. You’ve heard that RFP software manages your RFP process from beginning to end, but you’re wondering how. If you’re ready to empower your team, stand out in a competitive industry, and win more deals…keep reading.

Gain a competitive edge with a collaborative RFP process

Asset management is easily one of the most competitive industries out there. Right now you’re seeing a deluge of RFPs coming from institutional investors. When you’re submitting an RFP to a large pension investor, know that they are receiving 30-40 other RFPs for that single mandate.

Your organization’s RFP responses must stand out. With the sheer volume of RFPs that growing firms experience, the pressure is compounded. You need the best possible answers from all subject matter experts (SMEs) to make the final product shine.

But to do that, you need a better RFP process. RFP software rises to efficiency challenges, transforming RFP process management into a well-orchestrated strategy.

With a simple user interface—and helpful integrations with communications tools like Slack and CRMs like Salesforce—your team saves valuable time. A robust content library that’s easy to navigate puts quality information at everyone’s fingertips. There’s even an auto-respond feature to automatically and appropriately populate responses.

Optimize collaboration by saving time and streamlining communication. When collaboration improves, the quality and quantity of the final product improve exponentially. And that’s the name of the game—better and more RFPs.

RFP software content management benefits

As the financial service industry tends to have complex products and services, your RFPs and security questionnaires contain a wealth of valuable information.

You want to protect that precious data and curate a centralized content library. Gathering all the best responses into your answer library is just the beginning when you use RFP software.

Review cycles and content audits

The answer library gives you review cycles to simplify the daunting task of managing content during RFP projects and content audits. On a quarterly basis, question and answer pairs are sent to relevant subject matter experts for review. This way, you ensure that whatever goes out to prospects and clients is always accurate and current.

User-friendly and searchable

The structure of an RFP software answer library is highly user-friendly and easy to search. With the help of artificial intelligence, the answer library suggests relevant content and offers an auto-respond feature that populates answers with one click. Use what you need, then customize messaging and requirements at will.

Accessible knowledge and empowerment

RFP software empowers everyone on your team by organizing company information and making that knowledge widely accessible. Implement a custom tagging strategy so your team accesses the right question/answer pair easily whenever they need up-to-date content for RFPs, RFIs, security questionnaires, sales training, or prospect emails…the RFP software use case list goes on.

Easily build compliance into your RFP process flow

In asset management, you know the importance of compliance oversight. Financial institutions like yours must comply with an ever-growing complex web of regulations.

Not only is compliance harder than ever, but the cost of failure is crippling. Anything your organization sends out to clients or prospects, from RFPs to DDQs, must be approved by your hard-working compliance team.

RFP software doubles as a risk management tool. The answer library was built with compliance oversight in mind. Answer library reviews can be set up so that your compliance officer is a moderator. Any time response content is changed or new content is added, your compliance officer must approve and finalize it before the RFP goes out the door.

RFP software takes on compliance requirements, turning them into a win for financial services organizations. As you respond to a myriad of business queries, your organization will be safeguarded by a compliant RFP process.

Elevate your asset management RFP process with RFPIO.

Robust proposal automation software integrations for sales

Robust proposal automation software integrations for sales

You want one thing: To achieve your sales goals. But there are many steps between “wanting to achieve” and “actually achieving”. Effectively responding to RFPs is one of those steps.

Your team generates revenue when you win RFPs. Yet, responding to RFPs involves a substantial time commitment from sales, adding fuel to the fire for the 68% of salespeople who struggle with managing their time to focus on sales-related activities.

Rather than dwelling on what you can’t control, you’re here to take control. Proposal automation software has sparked your curiosity. You know it will save you time, but how exactly? You know it integrates with some technology, but which solutions? Let’s dig deeper into proposal automation software integrations so you know which benefits to expect.

RFPIO Salesforce integration

Many sales departments live and breathe in Salesforce. When your team isn’t interacting with prospects and customers, they probably turn to Salesforce for information. Your proposal automation software must integrate with the existing CRM system your team uses.

The RFPIO Salesforce integration helps sales teams like yours communicate more efficiently both inside and outside the platform. Integrating your customer relationship database with RFP response automation software consolidates your technology and makes RFP responses a breeze.

With the RFPIO Salesforce integration, you’ll have:

    • Instant access to your organization’s content library (RFPIO’s Answer Library) and to all relevant CRM data inside one platform.
    • The ability to start a project by tying it to a Salesforce opportunity, automatically pulling in relevant data.
    • An easy way to submit RFP opportunities as intake requests.
    • Full visibility to track opportunities, active RFP responses, and sales.
    • A comprehensive overview at a glance to track progress and know where a project stands.
    • Salesforce reporting integration, which is key for both sales management and decision-makers.

In addition to the RFPIO Salesforce integration, RFPIO has several CRM integrations, with one certain to be the best fit for your organization. Other CRM integrations include: Pipelinedeals, HubSpot, Dynamics CRM, and Pipedrive.

“RFPIO’s Salesforce integration is helping our business be more efficient and organized with RFPs and RFIs. We can easily view insights and progress with every RFP right from Salesforce.” – Alison Moeller, Accolade

Easy communication and simple access

As a sales professional, your day is filled with interpersonal communication. You need access to information for customer inquiries, working with prospects, and closing deals on the fly.

When you’re asked to respond to an RFP, the same need is just as critical. Technology like proposal automation software should work harder and smarter for you, making communication easier and access to information simpler to come by.

Slack and Microsoft Teams

RFPIO offers convenient communication integrations with Slack and Microsoft Teams. With a cloud-based communication platform like Slack, you know how easy it is to instant message across multiple devices and platforms in one shot.

With the RFPIO Slack integration, you’ll be able to:

  • Have a conversation with your whole team at a single point.
  • Send notifications to both RFPIO Slack and a configured channel.
  • Reply to messages from Slack and populate them in RFPIO.
  • Search your organization’s content library in Slack.

RFPIO provides integration with Microsoft Teams too. You’ll experience many of the same benefits. RFP projects can be added to a Microsoft Teams board. Respond to questions, use the recommendations library, attach documents, add clarifications, and export responses.

No more tracking emails and instant messages in multiple platforms, searching through spreadsheets, and making unnecessary phone calls to busy colleagues. Slack and Microsoft Team integrations with RFPIO simplify your communication tactics and improve team collaboration on RFP responses.

SSO (Single-Sign-On) Authentication

Single-sign-on (SSO) authentication integration streamlines your daily processes even further. RFPIO has integrations with Microsoft ADFS, Microsoft Azure, Onelogin and Okta. When an RFP, RFI, or security questionnaire project comes up, jump right into the project with one simple and secure login no matter where you are.

63% of salespeople said RFPIO enables them to automate their process, granting them more time to pursue new business with RFPs. Instant and secure information access simplifies your RFP responses, saves you time and effort, and lets you focus on your prime directive—sales.

Cloud integrations streamline information

RFPIO is a cloud-based solution that automates and streamlines the process of responding to RFPs. Leveraging this technology, we’ve integrated with several popular cloud storage platforms, including Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Sharepoint, and Box.

Cloud integration enhances collaboration—and better collaboration makes everyone’s job easier. The next time you’re assigned a handful of RFP questions, you won’t have to deal with information silos. Documents and collateral materials are readily accessible across platforms and devices in the cloud.

Easy online content access with RFPIO Lookup

Last but not least is RFPIO Lookup, which is one of our most popular integrations for sales teams…after Salesforce and SSO. RFPIO integrates with Google Chrome so you can access content right from your web browser. You can smell the sweet scent of time-savings already, can’t you?

Simply download and install the Chrome extension and search your organization’s content library by keyword—Lookup delivers advanced search capabilities with filters. Another important aspect of RFPIO Lookup is being able to create a project in RFPIO, even when you’re responding to a question.

You’re looking for an RFP response automation solution to work hard for you so that you can stay focused on closing deals for your organization. With several robust, bi-directional integrations, RFPIO is the answer. Let RFPIO work harder and smarter for you on your next RFP response. Schedule a demo today.

Why you need to advance your RFP response process now

Why you need to advance your RFP response process now

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.

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