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Orchestrate better RFPs with the best proposal team structure

Orchestrate better RFPs with the best proposal team structure

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock once said that. You need […]


Category: Selling & Enablement

Orchestrate better RFPs with the best proposal team structure

Orchestrate better RFPs with the best proposal team structure

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes an orchestra to play it.” H.E. Luccock once said that.

You need to complete and submit winning RFP responses, and you can’t do it alone. As the conductor, you’ll need the best orchestra members to all play their parts in the RFP response process. Start with the basics—staffing your proposal management team.

Proposal team structure may look different for your organization than someone else’s. You could have three people or 30 on your team, but the goal is the same…simple, efficient, and effective collaboration. Let’s discuss strategies for orchestrating better RFP responses by harmonizing your proposal team structure.

Define proposal team roles and responsibilities

You need a defined RFP response process to align your team for success. Clarify team roles to build the proposal team structure at the front end. Then, spell out responsibilities by clearly delineating workflow to keep the whole operation running smoothly.

1. Define team roles

The strongest RFP responses involve expert contributions. Who will contribute high-impact RFP content? Who are your subject matter experts (SMEs) for the various pieces of the puzzle? Get people on board early. And, have a plan in place well before an RFP project lands on your desk.

You’ll need to determine the workload of every RFP project—and understand how to allocate tasks to team members who have strengths in different areas at your organization. Know your resources, everyone from salespeople to graphic designers.

Have backup experts in place so you delegate tasks, without overburdening your proposal team. Also consider outsourcing content reviewers when finalizing RFP deliverables. Because you’re so involved in orchestrating the RFP response process, you’re very close to these projects. A fresh set of eyes on your content ensures optimal RFP performance.

2. Define your workflow

Fact: RFP responses are complex.

Break down the steps and assign clear action items with specific schedules. You’ll know who is handling each task from the moment the RFP is received to the moment it’s submitted. Once the process is delineated, you’ll use it as a workflow template for all future RFP responses.

At its core, proposal management is project management. If you simplify your planning process, you’ll have more time for execution. This is where technology like RFP software offers technical and moral support.

RFP software efficiently stores and indexes reusable content, tracks progress, streamlines the data import and export process, and provides analytics to guide your next proposal. In a nutshell, RFP software improves time management and optimizes collaboration.

RFP Response Process Steps

Who orchestrates the RFP content?

Content management is another important piece. Half of proposal managers said their biggest challenge is keeping response content up-to-date and accurate, in our 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey. How can you beat this challenge? It has to be a team effort—you’ll need to delegate.

The approach may vary, based on what your organization looks like. If you’re a smaller team, maybe you assign a full-time content moderator to the whole library. Or in a larger organization, you might assign content reviewing to the corresponding subject matter experts, asking them to own a particular answer or set of answers.

A well-curated RFP content library is the backbone of any proposal team. Everyone is empowered by information. When responding to an RFP, your team needs the right information at the right time to collaborate efficiently.

82% of proposal managers said RFPIO helps them manage response content all in one place. No matter who is responsible for curating, moderating, and maintaining your content library, proposal management software is a powerful tool for the job.

Proposal management is an iterative process

Now that you have a stronger RFP team structure, establish a mission statement for your RFP response process. A mission statement defines your purpose and unifies everyone for a common, defined goal.

When you foster unity of purpose, you enhance collaboration. People know what they’re helping with and working toward. You’re all strategic partners working toward a shared vision.

Your proposal team is a living, growing, and learning organism. Each time you go through a proposal cycle, you’ll review and rethink things. Use RFP responses as a training mechanism, to guide improvements to your process. Or show new team members good examples of a successful process to get them on board and invested. Share success stories often to inspire new people to join your RFP team.

Remember that every ending is a new beginning in the world of proposal teams. Iterative processes foster quality improvement and lead to better RFP responses—which ultimately, win more business for your organization.

As a proposal manager, you’re not just in a support role—you’re a strategic partner with demonstrable value. Be empowered. Orchestrate a better RFP response process with the best possible proposal team structure. Find out how RFPIO leads your proposal management team to greater success.

How to improve RFP response time management long-term

How to improve RFP response time management long-term

The average professional works a mere three minutes straight before changing tasks. As a subject matter expert (SME), one of those tasks is regularly contributing to your proposal management team’s cause, helping them produce high-quality RFP responses with your organizational expertise.

Every time you’re asked to collaborate on an RFP, RFI, or security questionnaire, you’re taken away from your main job requirements. To speed up the process, you repurpose old content. Then, you spend most of that time you thought you were saving searching folders and files—or relying on Control+F to navigate a massive answer library spreadsheet with 20+ tabs.

You’re a key player with multiple roles to fill, but know that RFP responses will get much easier when you have the right toolset. Discover ways to improve RFP response time management and lead your organization toward long-term success.

A central RFP repository built for quick collaboration

Process confusion happens with many SMEs, whether you respond to hundreds or handfuls of RFPs, RFIs, and security questionnaires. Each time you’re brought into the RFP response process, it can feel like a fire drill. Your expertise is needed…ASAP.

Establishing a central RFP repository is the first step in improving time management. One of RFP software’s core features is the answer library, a central repository that stores all of your organization’s content.

That means instead of answering the same question over and over again, you search and select relevant content from past responses. You quickly customize the response as needed, then move on with your day. Having this content accessible to your proposal management team allows them to even fill in responses ahead of time so you only need to step in when it’s time to approve the content.

However you decide to manage your workflow, with RFP software you skip the information hunt by letting technology do the majority of the work for you. It’s a much faster way to collaborate with your proposal manager.

Over time, you build a well-oiled machine by continually adding and updating response content within your answer library. Your legacy will live on, even if you decide to move on to another professional opportunity. If you transition out of your role, you won’t leave your team hanging.

Global collaboration with RFP language translation

You’ll also save time when different languages come into play with RFP responses. RFP translation capabilities within RFPIO help you overcome language barriers with both team members and prospects.

Global collaboration with internal team

If your proposal management team is headquartered in another country, you’ll need to take quite a bit of time to clarify what is being asked. Conversely, they’ll need to understand your answers in their own language.

Global collaboration with prospects

If a prospect resides in another country, the RFP must be compiled accurately and professionally in the native language of the issuer. A substantial amount of time is literally lost in translation.

RFPIO is currently available in 17 different languages, so multi-lingual teams can navigate the RFP response process in their own language. The answer library is powered by Google Translate as well. You can store the same answer in different languages, using tags to differentiate the content. From there, it’s just a matter of fine-tuning responses, rather than translating from scratch every time.

Optimize your time and create better RFP responses

In addition to wearing your SME hat when helping with RFP responses, the rest of your day is booked solid with primary responsibilities. Our 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey showed that our customers are just like you: 43% of subject matter experts revealed their top challenge was spending too much time on RFP responses.

When a response management platform like RFPIO supports your process, you contribute on your own time—you spend less time participating so you can focus the majority of your energy on primary responsibilities.

Here’s how RFP software helps you rise to the time management challenge…

Automation

You may have used an ad-hoc process to create and submit RFP responses up until this point. RFP software automates and simplifies this process, saving valuable time for you and your team.

When it’s time for you to jump into an RFP, you receive an email alert from your proposal manager. You can tag or filter RFPIO emails in your inbox, then complete your assigned questions or sections when you have a little extra focus time.

Workflows in RFPIO are a great way to automate business processes. You start by creating a rule. Based on the specific criteria you set, RFPIO handles a number of tasks, like sending an email, creating a task, or even updating a status.

Bulk answering is another big time-saver. The next time you face a security questionnaire with 2,000 Q&A pairs, bulk answer common questions within a response project instead of marking each answer one-by-one.

Audits

Your organization relies on your expertise in the RFP response process—but it doesn’t end there. When you audit your RFP answer library, your job is to keep content fresh, accurate, and up-to-date for anyone who needs it. RFP software helps maximize everyone’s time with content audits too.

Set up audit alerts at a chosen cadence (quarterly, monthly, annually), so you receive an automatic reminder when it’s time to update response content. Your team always has access to your audited content—no phone calls, emails, or meetings are required. All RFP response efforts are aligned internally, which ensures your best content is always within reach.

RFPIO allows you to collaborate across a single platform to maximize your time investment. You’ll capture content more efficiently and craft high-performing RFP responses that help your organization win more business. Schedule a demo to see more ways RFPIO optimizes your time.

Lead your team to victory with a proposal management tool

Lead your team to victory with a proposal management tool

In taking time out of your hectic, demanding schedule to read this, you’ve already made the choice to be the proposal manager who leads your organization to victory.

As you well know, proposal management is so much more than proposal writing. With so much opportunity at stake, you need to meet that heady challenge by bringing your team together to craft the best RFP response possible.

At RFPIO, we know that proposal management is really project management in disguise. You and your entire team of contributors respond to multiple RFPs simultaneously. Together, you must hit numerous milestones and deadlines along the way. Finally, you must submit a powerful RFP response that maximizes your chance of winning.

Discover how using RFPIO as your proposal management tool capitalizes on your valuable skill set and gets your team in the endzone.

In SaaS proposal management, you have to raise the stakes

SaaS companies are unique. Often, large sales teams are out in the trenches relentlessly digging up fresh business opportunities. These sales team members might be short on technical knowledge and they will certainly be short on time.

As we speak, your hard-working sales team is out there lining up multiple RFP projects. You are tasked with juggling all of these software RFP responses. The most successful proposal managers balance people skills and project management skills, much like a quarterback balances his leadership skills and play calls.

Now, more than ever, people need to know their data is secure. Cybersecurity is the extra pillar of your company’s SaaS solutions in today’s evolving landscape. SaaS companies are therefore facing the added burden of completing lengthy security questionnaires in addition to regular RFP responses.

No need to panic. An effective proposal management tool like RFPIO helps responders accelerate the process for all kinds of security questionnaires.

Proposal management software to the rescue

In the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey, we asked proposal managers about their primary goals with RFP projects. They spoke loud and clear: 57% said they need to improve their proposal management process to save time.

Even tech-savvy response management teams at SaaS organizations have historically relied on spreadsheets to manage complex RFP projects. We all know that a manual process is slow, error-prone, and resource-draining. In the end, a manual RFP process directly impacts your bottom line.

It’s absolutely possible to meet more demands in less time. Technology has shifted, and we now live in the era of AI-enabled proposal management software. When your team digitizes a manual process with a proposal management tool, you will drastically accelerate the response process and improve your chances of capturing the business.

Proposal management tool dashboards and analytics

Wouldn’t it be nice to see the whole picture at any given stage of the software RFP project life cycle? RFPIO is a proposal management tool that offers unique dashboard capabilities in concert with analytics. Here are a few key capabilities you will find useful.

1. Intake management

Intake management helps you assess incoming bids to determine if they are a good fit, before they become a live RFP project. Everything you need to make an informed decision is right there—the files, supporting documents, and background details from the customer in terms of the value, the timeline, and how strategic it is.

2. Insights dashboard

The insights dashboard is an incredibly valuable tool. It analyzes trends based on past responses to similar RFPs. View success rates, the completion time for historical RFPs, and your past competition. This dashboard allows you to plan resources and strategize, so you are more proactive.

3. Overview dashboard

The overview dashboard offers RFP project managers a real-time view of any RFP project. With this unique dashboard, you can track progress toward your due date along with the progress of individual team members (contributors, authors, and reviewers). Interact with collaborators through automated notifications and daily digests to improve accountability. You will run a well-oiled machine with these dashboard capabilities.

APMP members predict that our industry, like most others, will continue to rapidly advance as the millennial generation steps into leadership roles. Collaborative tools have now evolved to the point that we can optimize our unique and vital skill set—proposal management as project management.

We all know technology is the way of the future. Incremental knowledge becomes exponential through AI-enabled proposal management software like RFPIO. Schedule a demo to discover how to lead your team to victory.

How to master your SaaS sales process and close more deals

How to master your SaaS sales process and close more deals

As a member of your SaaS organization’s sales team, you will likely be asked to contribute to software RFP responses—and, you will probably be asked a lot.

Because you prioritize the relentless pursuit of the sale, your time is a rare commodity. By improving your software RFP process, you’ll save time and contribute the best possible RFP responses for your organization. The best possible content is obviously important, being that sales proposals are critical selling documents that impact revenue.

Your job is both a science and an art…selling is a science, and closing is an art. Learn how to master this balance in your SaaS sales process, overcome common obstacles, and close more deals for your organization.

“Today, the sale is won by the salesperson who communicates a story that gets a buyer to imagine new possibilities.” – John Livesay

SaaS sales: Relationships, price wars, and time

We reached out to SaaS salespeople and asked them to describe their top industry challenges. Casey Hill, Sales Executive at Bonjoro, shared his top three hurdles and we shared some ideas for overcoming these sales hurdles to help you succeed.

1. Not hearing back after an initial meeting.

Your follow-up is absolutely critical. You must demonstrate value, and personalize and tailor messaging for your individual prospect. To establish this relationship, you need to demonstrate precisely why they need your solution to solve their problems.

2. Getting involved in a price war.

You are put on the defensive here, but you don’t need to be. Casey says “know the value of your product, and stick to your guns.” Your prospect may be putting you under a lot of pressure, but in the end, the cheapest solution is not always the winner. Show them how your software will directly benefit their bottom line.

3. Knowing where to allocate time when it comes to your pipeline.

Time is money, and nowhere is this truer than sales. Know your statistics, manage your pipeline, and stay organized and proactive. Casey advises using your organization’s top salespeople as a blueprint for success. Learn how they break down their processes. The most successful sales teams know how to balance time management and limit distractions.

Overcoming each of these challenges is a learning experience. Apply these takeaways to your next sales proposal to hone in on the value-add and show ROI potential. With better time management, you’ll have the headspace to make these improvements in your SaaS sales process.

SaaS sales: Listen, be inquisitive, and sell benefits

There’s an old adage you likely already know by heart if you’re in SaaS sales. If the customer says “I’m buying—stop talking,” you’re in big trouble.

We need to let the customer do the talking. This is how we learn what they are looking for in a SaaS solution. The best salespeople are inquisitive. You listen and respond. You want to find out what problem you can solve. Sell them the benefit, not the feature.

How will a given feature of your software increase the customer’s revenue, lower their costs, and save them time? Talk to your potential client about end-users. Target their needs in the conversation.

In the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey, we asked busy salespeople what their favorite RFPIO feature was. A resounding 93% said the answer library. It’s a great feature, definitely—but how do you sell that? You could point out what the answer library does in mechanics and specifics. However, the real win lies in selling it as “an efficiency.”

RFP response automation is a winning solution. When you save a salesperson’s time, they can focus more on selling, thus also affecting the bottom line. Now you’ve sold them on saving time and increasing revenue.

Apply these principles to your next RFP response. If you allow your prospect to do the talking and find out their greatest need, you’ll walk in their shoes and know which benefits will best appeal to them.

Take the next step in mastering your SaaS sales process. Find out how RFPIO can help.

How RFP software helps responders thrive [new research]

How RFP software helps responders thrive [new research]

Modern response management teams enjoy the unique time-savings benefits of dedicated technology like RFP software. However, only a fraction (16%) use RFP software to streamline their processes.

Chances are that your organization is grouped with 84% of responders who still rely on a manual approach, even with all of this great technology. Let’s be honest…nobody loves spreadsheets THAT much. Which is why RFP software is the preferred solution for today’s most successful teams.

Rather than spending the next hour hunting down old RFP responses, check out the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey takeaways below to learn from 125 response management pros who are thriving with RFP software.

Top goals for proposal management professionals

RFPIO customers continually seek out ways to improve their internal processes, whether they are responding to RFPs or security questionnaires—or collaborating to better manage content or win bigger deals. If you’re on a self-improvement quest, you’ll relate to these different responders who manage proposals on a daily basis.

Proposal managers
57% of proposal managers said their primary goal is to improve the proposal management process to save time.
11% strive to demonstrate more value by helping achieve sales KPIs.
11% are continually searching for new ways to make project management easier.
11% want to improve collaboration between departments.

Salespeople
86% of salespeople are looking for opportunities to shorten the sales cycle to close more deals.
7% want to keep their eyes on predictable revenue to achieve their sales goals.

Marketers
79% of marketers are focused on using automated technology to execute more with less resource strain.
7% would like more visibility into their content management efforts.

Subject matter experts
65% of subject matter experts aspire to increase efficiency through better processes.
22% own their supporting role, helping their organization win deals by providing expertise.

Top challenges for proposal management professionals

It’s rare when a job description only has two words…proposal management. Salespeople, marketers, and subject matter experts squeeze RFP responses into their jam-packed calendars, while proposal managers juggle multiple projects and people to submit proposals before the deadline. Even still, the challenges shared below are further opportunities for improvement.

Proposal Managers
50% of proposal managers said keeping response content up-to-date and accurate is their biggest challenge.
25% are not able to focus on priorities, because they are wearing too many hats.
7% think getting people to adopt new business technology is difficult.

Salespeople
68% of salespeople struggle with managing their time to focus on sales-related activities.
15% said having sales content easily accessible for prospect questions and RFPs is an obstacle.
10% are challenged with being asked to respond to RFPs—and they don’t consider sales proposals a priority.

Marketers
43% of marketers mentioned their top hurdle was wearing too many hats and not having time for extra projects, like RFPs.
29% think controlling content quality is difficult, especially with RFPs.
14% felt challenged with managing brand consistency and positioning.

Subject Matter Experts
43% of subject matter experts revealed their top challenge was spending too much time on RFP responses.
35% are not able to keep the company content accurate.
17% are challenged by improving the proposal management process.

How RFPIO empowers response management teams

Now that we’ve covered goals and challenges, the question remains: How? How can response management teams reach their objectives? How can they overcome their obstacles? RFPIO was built by RFP responders so we know all about aspirations and hurdles. Here’s how our customers are seeing positive results with RFPIO.

Proposal Managers
82% of proposal managers said RFPIO helps them manage response content all in one place.
7% felt collaborating was much easier with subject matter experts and contributors, while using RFPIO.
7% are saving time, since RFPIO’s export templates make formatting a non-issue.

Salespeople
63% of salespeople said RFPIO enables them to automate their process, so they can make time to pursue new business with RFPs.
17% felt RFPIO’s Salesforce integration made managing RFPs easier.
12% are receiving fewer emails, because RFP communication happens within the RFPIO platform.

Marketers
71% of marketers said RFPIO helps them centralize company content for easy access.
21% are experiencing easier collaboration during the RFP review process, thanks to RFPIO.

Subject Matter Experts
48% of subject matter experts said RFPIO helps them review content for accuracy and quality, instead of writing repetitive responses.
39% gained hours back in their day with RFPIO to focus on other priorities.
9% are showing executives more value, since executives have visibility into their RFP contributions with RFPIO dashboards.

RFP content audits, opportunities, and roles

It’s tough to know whether or not your RFP response process is rock-solid or full of holes—and whether or not your response management team is where it needs to be. RFPIO customers offer an inside look into their internal processes, sharing practices for auditing RFP content, sources for opportunities, and players involved in response management.

RFP content audit frequency
31% of responders audit their RFP content library once a quarter.
16% audit their RFP responses once a year.
14% never audit their RFP content.
12% prefer to audit their answer library once a month.

Main source for RFP opportunities
85% of responders receive RFP opportunities directly from prospects.
5% win RFP opportunities via proactive proposals.
5% see RFP opportunities come from government contracts.

Roles for response management teams
32% of responders serve as Project Managers/Facilitators.
19% are System Administrators.
16% are Executive/Decision Makers.
14% are Content/Knowledge Contributors.
6% are Reviewers/Editors.

Favorite time-saving RFPIO features

RFPIO was ultimately built with efficiency in mind. Every RFPIO feature is focused on saving responders time, so they can do their best work together and win meaningful deals as a result.

Answer Library
89% love the answer library for the ability to store, organize, and access responses in a centralized content hub.

Import / Export
49% feel the import and export functionality speeds up the RFP response time and helps them submit a beautifully branded deliverable.

Document Library
24% like the document library for keeping all supporting attachments and collateral streamlined and accessible.

Dashboards
23% leverage dashboards for gaining full visibility into RFP projects, including insights into contributors, workloads, and progress.

RFPIO Lookup
21% lean on RFPIO Lookup to tap into the answer library content straight from their Chrome browser.

Reporting
20% enjoy reporting features, analytics which help responders see the health of their answer library and opportunities for process improvements.

Integrations
7% save time with their preferred software integrations: cloud storage (Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Box, Sharepoint), communication (Slack, Microsoft Teams) CRMs (Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals).

Response management, before and after RFPIO

RFPIO is so much more than RFP software—it’s a response management platform for managing all business inquiries in one place. Before implementing RFPIO, responders relied on documents and spreadsheets, workaround content management solutions, or even other RFP software providers. Now, with RFPIO, teams are responding to more opportunities in less time.

Responders use RFPIO for all business queries…
97% RFP (Request for Proposal)
88% RFI (Request for Information)
56% Security Questionnaire
40% Managing Company Knowledge
32% RFQ (Request for Quote)
26% DDQ (Due Diligence Questionnaire)
15% Proactive Proposal
10% SOW (Statement of Work)

Before RFPIO implementation…
49% of response management teams spent several weeks completing RFPs.
26% had a 1 week RFP response completion turnaround.
7% spent more than 5 hours on RFP responses without RFPIO.

After RFPIO implementation…
33% of response management teams now spend 1 week completing RFPs.
14% have a 1 day RFP response completion turnaround.
13% only spend 2-5 hours on RFP responses with RFPIO.

It’s your turn to thrive. RFPIO is ready to help your team.

6 ways to refine sales operations with RFP software

6 ways to refine sales operations with RFP software

The financial services industry comes with plenty of rules and regulations your sales team must follow to the T. Managing your content effectively throughout the Finserv sales cycle requires a balance between process and technology—and, of course, staying compliant and cutting-edge in a crowded market.

According to the 2019 State of Financial Services report by Oliver Wyman: “Financial services firms are operating in a tough environment. New capabilities and approaches are required to grow businesses in the digital economy. At the same time, the performance and productivity of the core business need to be optimized.”

RFP software is a solution that supports your revenue and productivity goals. Keep reading if you’re committed to refining sales operations at your Finserv organization.

1. RFP Answer Library

The critical foundation of any RFP software implementation is your answer library. To extract as much value as possible from an investment in a response management platform like RFPIO, you need to get it right. Here are a few RFP answer library recommendations:

  • Find the right people to both administer your answer library and manage content.
  • Before you bring any content into RFPIO, a content writer and/or group of subject matter experts should refine your content.
  • Pull in content from a variety of different sources, then organize and assemble the most relevant (and compliant) content.
  • Spend the first 3-6 months building out your answer library with brand new content using the organizational parameters you put in place.

2. Import & Export

RFPIO supports typical file formats your team encounters in the RFP response process—docs, spreadsheets, and even PDFs. To start an RFP project, import the document provided by your issuer in one click.

Once the file lands in the application, users follow a straightforward workflow for mapping out the initial sections, questions, tables and other components that make up the document. RFPIO has patented AI-enabled import functionality that assists users with mapping out the rest of the document.

Exporting is a simple process as well, with options to export back into the source document or a custom template. Your finished project should always be tailored to each individual customer. By design, customization options in this final stage of your workflow ensure you have the flexibility to personalize content for your prospects.

“The high point for me in using the solution is the purely magical import feature, which allows us to import complex—positively labyrinthine—proposals into RFPIO and easily identify sections, subsections, questions, subquestions, descriptions, tables, etc. It’s impressive.” – Gail M.

3. Project Management and Executive Dashboard

The project management dashboard allows different stakeholders to have full visibility into an individual RFP project. Stakeholders understand the project status as well as what a team member’s current workload is…without having to ask.

The executive dashboard shows the big picture. Your sales leadership team reviews historical data to see what’s working, or where to make course corrections. By reviewing performance metrics inside this dashboard, sales leaders figure out which resources are needed to improve the RFP response process.

4. Document Library

The document library is where supporting attachments or collateral—such as standard cover letters or pricing models—live inside RFPIO. Similar to the flexibility of the RFP answer library, this feature helps your team streamline content management, making it easier to share documents across an entire sales organization while maintaining content integrity.

5. Answer Library Reporting

Is too much content assigned to one subject matter expert? That SME might experience burn-out and move on to another job opportunity. Or they might stay and allow the content to decay because they don’t have the bandwidth to manage the content. Managing risk within your financial services RFP response process is made possible by answer library reporting capabilities within RFPIO.

Answer library reporting also helps drive better RFP project performance. The system helps you recognize when you have built out enough content and when you have exceeded the amount to keep the recommendation engine working optimally. Since the RFP answer library is your bread and butter, analyzing reports is essential for improvement and staying compliant in the evolving financial services industry.

“RFPIO takes the hours I used to spend researching multiple documents and resources to find an ‘okay’ answer into turning my time into focusing on answer strategy. This has allowed our company, in a really short time frame, to get quality responses from SMEs and be more customer centrist in a very competitive market.” – Max G.

6. RFPIO Lookup

RFPIO Lookup is a chrome extension you and your team can use to tap into the answer library content straight from your browser—without jumping into the solution and flipping back and forth between screens.

We primarily designed this RFPIO Lookup to help you overcome the challenge of responding to locked portal-based RFPs and other security questionnaires. However, any individual contributor within a sales organization who needs to respond to customer inquiries during the sales process benefits from using this tool to access answer library content.

I like to nickname this feature “RFPIO Light” because you highlight the question text you’re working on outside RFPIO, then instantly view the top ten matching responses from your answer library. RFPIO Lookup puts sales information right in your hands, whether you are responding to a request for information (RFI), a vendor due diligence form, or a quick prospect email.

RFPIO supports your initiatives to refine sales operations and drive more value. Reach out to see how RFP software adds value to your team.

AI proposal management software FAQs you need to know

AI proposal management software FAQs you need to know

Marketing teams are familiar with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). But, did you know that proposal management AI is already happening?

78% of marketers in proposal management said using automated technology to execute more with less resource strain was their top priority. AI proposal management software is the next evolution in automating your RFP response process so you can achieve even more.

You have questions about how AI will impact your marketing role in today’s landscape. Below we have answers to commonly asked questions to help you understand your untapped potential with AI proposal management software.

11 AI proposal management software FAQs

1. What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Put simply, artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that deals with simulating human intelligence and behaviors in computer systems.

2. Are artificial intelligence and machine learning the same?

No. Machine learning is an AI system that has the ability to self-analyze and improve its code in order to more efficiently arrive at an outcome. In AI systems that are not machine learning, the programming is somewhat deterministic. You put together a “narrow” AI system to solve a specific problem, then predict the outcomes based on the inputs.

3. How is proposal management AI changing our industry?

The biggest thing that proposal management AI will change in our industry is prompting digital transformation. To truly leverage what AI offers, all of your systems must connect and share data with each other to add value across touchpoints. Artificial intelligence is a competitive advantage for response teams who leverage these capabilities.

Proposal management AI is also ushering an era of enterprise-level database requirements for content. AI is most powerful when it has a huge database to train itself on. If your RFP answer library is not a clean and reliable database, this hinders the effectiveness of AI. To highly automate with AI, an organized content database is a key step in digital transformation.

4. How is AI proposal management software benefitting teams?

High-performing response teams use AI proposal management software to efficiently intake and qualify opportunities. Analyzing projects without AI takes a lot of time, which involves reading through previous proposals and reports then taking the best guess about the outcome.

AI systems help you understand whether or not you should bid by analyzing and comparing previous RFP projects. Teams see the win potential and what resources might be required based on the average length of a project. Proposal management AI offers more strategic planning overall.

AI is changing the way teams “shred” their RFPs, making it easier to break up relevant sections, auto-identify response content, and assign questions to subject matter experts. We’re starting to see tone and sentiment analysis as well.

This capability will help reviewers adjust content to convey a more positive feeling by identifying a word that sounds negative, so you find a more suitable adjective that results in stronger content.

5. What kind of automation will we see with proposal management AI?

Proposal management AI will consistently take over repetitive and mundane tasks that responders do today (but they don’t really want to do), such as:

  • Answering common, repetitive questions
  • Producing basic boilerplate copy
  • Exporting document formatting
  • Analyzing win-loss opportunities
  • Making bid/no-bid recommendations based on big-data analytics

AI looks at tens of thousands of past RFPs and connects the dots between the CRM wins and the products or the copy chosen in the RFPs. At this year’s APMP Bid & Proposal Con, I presented on the Leveraging AI for Persuasive Proposal Writing panel, and one attendee said this type of analysis would take 30+ years for his team to complete manually.

6. What are the current AI capabilities of RFPIO?

RFPIO has the RFP response automation elements we just discussed, including auto-responses and an answer recommendation engine that proposal teams have been using for years.

With a well-maintained answer library, it’s common to see RFPIO users complete 60-70% of their RFP autonomously. The time given back to these proposal professionals allows them to develop higher quality content where personalization is needed, as well as put forth more proposals for more opportunities.

We’re starting to do bid fit analysis and later we will have sentiment analysis. As we begin to introduce natural language processing (NLP), responders will require significantly less intervention to shred and analyze requirements. Future AI capabilities are exciting and pretty limitless. As AI technology advances, so will RFPIO.

7. How can our team prepare for proposal management AI?

Make sure you have a future-ready team in place that is capable of making digital transformation happen. And, of course, make sure that team leverages AI proposal management software to its fullest capacity.

When choosing RFP software, the platform should plug into all of your data through system integrations. Your systems need to work cross-functionally and proposal teams should be able to collaborate together efficiently within those systems.

8. How much time will our team save with AI proposal management software?

That all depends on how much time your team spends on repetitive tasks today that could be handled by AI proposal management software. And, what you do with the time you ultimately win back.

If you’re not answering the same question a thousand times, what can you achieve with that extra time? Maybe you level up the content you have in your answer library to create winning proposals. You put more time into thinking about new avenues for generating revenue. And, you respond to RFPs you didn’t have time to before. Positive results will compound quickly.

9. Will AI proposal management software write all of my RFP responses?

The day AI proposal management software writes RFP responses is the day this blog will have written itself. One day artificial intelligence will write your RFP, drive you home, and cook you dinner. But don’t get too excited—we’re probably 30 years away from that.

10. Will AI replace humans?

AI will replace humans….and it’s already replacing humans. Look at the checkout stands, how you order food, and how you get information. Fifteen years ago I used to call a travel agent to book my flights and now flights are recommended to me online before I even need them.

11. Will proposal management AI replace my job?

Proposal management AI won’t replace your job. Actually, AI enriches your job and empowers you to do more strategic, creative work. No one wants to come in and look at numbers or do the same thing over and over again. AI gives you the opportunity to accomplish things you couldn’t before. You’ll have more time to reflect and to provide more organizational value.


As the first AI proposal management software in the industry, RFPIO has already automated and improved the response process for future-ready organizations. Start your digital transformation by scheduling a demo of RFPIO.

10 financial services RFP insider tips for an effective process

10 financial services RFP insider tips for an effective process

57% of proposal managers share the same goal…improving the proposal management process to save time.

In the financial services industry, proposal management is still paper-based for many organizations. With digital transformation happening all around us, the opportunity to advance your RFP response process has never been higher.

Chip Kispert is an experienced consultant who has dedicated over 20 years to analyzing and improving the financial institution marketplace. He is the Founder and Managing Partner of Beacon Strategies, a premier consulting firm serving broker-dealers, asset managers, and supporting vendors since 2006.

Before you respond to your next round of financial services RFPs, read these insider tips to understand the nuances of your industry and discover new ways to save time through an effective process.

chip kispert

RFP financial services insider tips to practice

1. Take care of your RFP answer library

One of the biggest challenges for our broker-dealers is taking care of their data. Keep your data organized, so you get to a point where you can compare that data and make it stronger. As a proposal manager, your RFP answer library is a prime opportunity. This content is some of your most valuable data.

2. Structure RFPs from a quantitative standpoint

Have an answer set that is quantitative, rather than qualitative. Of course, qualitative is important for supplying additional concepts and context, but structuring your RFPs from a quantitative standpoint gives you something to measure. And you measure it with ease if you have an organized platform like RFP software to do the work for you.

3. Turn to the subject matter experts for guidance

Being the lead of your organization’s financial services RFP responses might be a new process for you. RFPs are complex in your industry, with questions about information security and GDPR becoming increasingly common in the vendor selection process. Always engage subject matter experts (SMEs) to get the most accurate response.

4. Have discussions about sales opportunities

Over the years you’ve seen a lot of RFPs that have been won because of the relationship. The relationship is important. But sometimes down the road, key pieces of the puzzle pop up and cause issues. It’s important to get all those elephants in the room during the sales process. Work together on organizational improvement by having open discussions.

5. Embrace RFP digital transformation

The first iPhone was released twelve years ago—look at the digital transformation you experienced with this tool since then. Digital transformation supplies the ability to repeat a process. When you embrace digital transformation with RFPs, you gain a sustainable RFP response process and become more effective and efficient.

6. Support digital transformation with RFP software

In our experience, very few Finserv organizations are using RFP software today. RFP software lets you use technology to adapt to the plug-and-play environment we live in. You quickly select a pre-packaged RFI (request for information) response that you can build upon. At the end of the day, RFP software supports your digital transformation.

7. Develop a data-driven RFP response process

Having a consistent RFP response process is key for your entire proposal management team. You also want your data to have quantitative packaging, with supporting qualitative explanations. A modern-day RFP process blends the quantitative with the qualitative to appeal to multiple personas inside and outside your financial services organization.

8. Gamify the RFP experience

When conveying your quantitative data in a financial services RFP, gamify the experience for your prospect. Give them results and trends shown in graphs and quadrants. Not only do proposal graphics break up your content, but they also present information visually to make a bigger impact.

9. Summarize content for decision-makers

Executives and decision-makers don’t have time to review 82 documents. Make it easy for them to choose you during the vendor selection process. Quantify and summarize at every turn. Be concise with your RFP responses and include data that is highly relevant to your prospect.

10. Take a look at what you’re trying to accomplish

Just because you’ve always done something a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the right way to do it tomorrow. What are you trying to accomplish? What resources do you need to deploy? If there is an option to minimize resources you have to expend, take it—especially if it gives you a quantitative perspective, one that measures in addition to supporting context.

Now you have the RFP financial services insider tips to make your response process more effective. RFPIO is here to support your digital transformation and save you time…schedule a demo to get started.

Why sales proposals are critical selling documents to invest in

Why sales proposals are critical selling documents to invest in

Ask any VP of Sales how they plan to move the needle on sales performance and the last word out of their mouth would be “proposals.” You’re much more likely to hear these phrases: sales pipeline, forecasting, close rates, objection handling, building the funnel—and, of course—sales enablement.

Yet recent research conducted by Strategic Proposals, 78% of buyers said written proposals are the most important part of their evaluation process.

Protecting your sales enablement investments

If you are the VP of Sales, there are 101 things you can do to improve the effectiveness of your team. There are at least twenty different disciplines that fall under the umbrella of sales enablement. And each discipline is a valuable investment. There is no doubt that investing in many of these areas will impact sales performance.

But, how do you get the right content and sales collateral in the hands of your sales team—at the right moment in the sales cycle? That has a lot to do with automation.

86% of sales teams said increasing productivity with automated technology was their primary goal in a recent RFPIO survey. Your investments in sales enablement technology are valuable, and in many cases, critically important.

Sales proposals, including formal RFP responses, are undervalued tools in the furthering of the sales process, treated almost as check-box items. By downplaying proposals in your process, you potentially undermine the impact of other sales enablement investments.

Sales proposals: A foundational part of the process

A sales proposal is like a resume. Even if you have the right experience and would present favorably in a job interview, if your resume is poorly written, there’s a fair chance you wouldn’t get invited to the interview in the first place.

A great proposal won’t win you the deal on the spot, but a poor proposal causes doubt in your buyer’s mind. That sales proposal might extend the sales cycle or even make you lose the deal, which jeopardizes the tremendous work you’ve done up to that point.

A good RFP response articulates how well you understand your clients’ underlying needs, how you will address their requirements and solve their business problems, how you will add value—and ultimately why they should choose to work with you.

Easing time constraints with proposal software

Even with the best intentions, the main constraint for any sales team is time. With tight submission deadlines and multiple RFPs being worked on simultaneously, you don’t always have the luxury of enough time to produce the best possible sales proposal.

Buyer expectations of sales proposals are at an all-time high. In the same Strategic Proposals study mentioned in the intro above, 74% of buyers said they read every proposal thoroughly, from cover to cover. Buyers are taking the time to read your proposal and they expect you to take the time to deliver a quality sales proposal.

RFP automation is key, because the sales proposal process is a classic time drain for a sales organization. The most direct benefit of proposal software like RFPIO is to buy you more time.

RFPIO reduces many of the manually intensive activities involved in creating sales proposals and we have a substantial library of proposal management blog resources that explain these benefits in greater detail.

Having time available to get the best possible proposal out the door is non-negotiable for today’s sales teams. A strong sales proposal reinforces the rest of the work carried out during your sales process.

Ease the sales proposal time constraint with automation. Find out how our proposal software supports your sales enablement goals.

Succeed with your next Request for Information (RFI) response

Succeed with your next Request for Information (RFI) response

A Request for Information (RFI) and a Request for Proposal (RFP) are two unique business queries proposal management teams encounter. For many teams, they use these document terms interchangeably, feeling that RFIs and RFPs are one and the same. While these proposal documents are similar, they serve different purposes.

In a recent RFPIO client survey, we learned that 87% of proposal management teams are using our response management platform to respond to RFIs. If the teams we partner with are focusing so much on RFI response, there is a high probability that your team is too.

Let’s examine RFIs and RFPs in greater detail to help you understand the best approach with your next Request for Information.

What is an RFI?

A Request for Information (RFI) is a document an organization sends to a potential vendor. An RFI is an exploratory step that happens in the early stages of the procurement process. Once the issuing organization has identified a need for a service or product, they begin the vendor selection process by sending RFIs to “request further information” about the service or product capabilities.

This gives the issuer an opportunity to compare different vendors in the market and help them write a more specific RFP. If the vendor addresses their needs in the RFI response, the organization moves forward by issuing a Request for Proposal (RFP).

The second most common RFI response situation occurs when an issuing organization has a pretty good idea of what they want, and they simply need to firm up a few details before they write the RFP.

The goal with this second group is to trim down the final group of vendors they will include on the RFP. They will send an RFI to 10 vendors, narrow down the list, and send an RFP to 5 vendors as the final group for consideration.

What is an RFI process?

The RFI process clarifies roles, responsibilities, and timelines to help an organization meet the issuer’s deadline. The good news is that establishing your RFI process isn’t as complicated as it sounds.

Like any project plan, a successful RFI process starts by establishing scope, milestones, roles, and responsibilities. However, the key to responding to RFIs quickly and accurately is being able to quickly find accurate information. Since RFIs tend to ask similar (or even identical) questions, being able to quickly answer repeat questions is key.

Steps for a great RFI Process:

  • Kick-Off: Review requirements, assemble your team, and schedule a kick-off meeting
  • Respond: Repurpose past responses and tailor content
  • Collect Expertise: Assign technical questions to your company’s subject matter experts to ensure accuracy
  • Review and Revise: Review RFI for consistency, tone of voice. Proofread for grammatical and spelling errors
  • Submit: Send your RFI to the issuer, along with any supporting materials
  • Consolidate: Save your RFI responses in a centralized location that can be used in future RFIs

RFI vs. RFP…How are they different?

An RFP is issued after an RFI. However, sometimes an organization will issue an RFI that reads more like an RFP. This is where responders experience confusion between RFPs and RFIs. Because the issuer mixes up the documents on their end.

An RFP usually includes questions that cover specific company information:

  • What does your company provide?
  • Where is your company headquarters located?
  • How long has your company been in business?

RFIs tend to be set in a more standard format, which then prompts vendors to execute a more standard format with their RFI responses. Whereas with RFP responses, the issuing organization allows the vendor to have a more open response style—or even the ability to submit an RFP in their own format or branded template.

Certain companies have a structured procurement department and specific processes in which they operate. These organizations are more likely to follow the traditional RFI and RFP order.

A lot of times, though, issuing organizations do not operate in such a structured way. The issuer will send out a document that is labeled as an RFI when it’s really an RFP. Then you, as the responder, need to figure out the best approach with your content strategy so you can move onto the next stage of consideration.

How to respond to an RFI in 3 steps

With response to RFI, follow the same approach as other questionnaires you respond to on behalf of your organization.

  1. Make sure the opportunity is the right fit before you spend time on the RFI response. Comb through the RFI to understand what this organization is looking for. If you feel like your product or service will meet their needs, begin your RFI response.
  2. Check that your past responses are up-to-date so you don’t end up wasting time during RFI response content creation. Having an answer library saves a lot of hours because you’re not pulling content from multiple places.
  3. Know who to bring in from your organization for accurate and impactful RFI response content. Leverage subject matter experts—have an open communication plan already in place for seamless team collaboration.

RFI response is straightforward with RFPIO

Whether you receive an RFI (or an RFP pretending to be an RFI), RFPIO is a straightforward response management solution that helps your team respond effectively in a number of ways.

Analyze your opportunity

How do you know if you should commit to this RFI response? RFPIO offers trend analysis to help you analyze and decide whether or not it makes sense for you to participate in an RFI or RFP.

You will see how long it took for your team to respond to similar RFIs, whether you won or lost the opportunity, and what the cost estimation is. From the beginning, you’ll determine if the RFI is worth going after or if your team should pass on it.

Upload your document

RFPIO’s import functionality supports the most common formats—document, spreadsheet, or PDF. Quickly upload the Request for Information and jump right into content creation and collaboration.

Store your content

Content management capabilities in RFPIO is a huge time-saver for responders. All of your content is stored in one place…the answer library. You organize your best content with tags and star ratings, then use search or auto-respond to fill in relevant responses.

Connect your applications

Our RFP software integrations work with a number of other applications—CRMs, cloud storage and communication applications, and SSO authentication platforms. Let’s say your technology stack includes: Salesforce, Microsoft Teams, and Sharepoint. You can pull in information and data from all of these solutions within RFPIO.

18% of proposal managers audit their responses once per year and 25% never audit their proposal content.

Improve your content

To make sure your content is best-in-class, RFPIO offers content audit alerts. You decide on your auditing cadence (we recommend quarterly) and an automated email hits your inbox when it’s time to review, discard, and improve your response content.

Strengthen your team

Better RFI response is made possible through collaboration. Designed to foster a collaborative environment, RFPIO does not limit user licenses. Our pricing model is based on the number of RFx documents you respond to, not the number of users working in the platform. It’s easy to assign content to internal and external resources, like consultants and writers.


Set your organization up for success with RFI response…see how RFPIO works.

Transform your Finserv role with an improved RFP response process

Transform your Finserv role with an improved RFP response process

Unlike tech-savvy software organizations who have been around for a decade or two, many financial services companies have existed for a century—well before planes flew in the sky. And some processes are as old as the company.

Thankfully, World Wide Technology reported that 2019 is the year when we will see a push towards massive workload migration to the cloud, with figures from 20% to 50% advertised by various banks. This push will trigger significant investment in automation, security, and cloud management.

Whether a financial services organization focuses on the B2C or the B2B space, challenges are synonymous in both sectors for a subject matter expert. By staying dedicated to your RFP response process, you’ll start to see transformational growth.

Challenges B2C and B2B financial services experience

Lester Leong is the VP of Data Science & Strategic Planning at Wells Fargo. As a subject matter expert, his field blends data science and corporate finance. The top 3 challenges Lester sees SMEs face at financial services organizations are:

  1. Digital transformation – The process of breaking data silos and combining data from all parts of the company is a strategic endeavor that takes anywhere from a few months to a few years to accomplish.
  2. Organizational buy-in – Change comes from the top-down. Leaders of the organization must be committed to sharing data in fostering further insight and innovation.
  3. Putting the user first – In the cutting edge of data science, teams must always keep the user needs in mind—and how their products help the top or bottom line.

Dan Salva is the Co-Founder of Will & Grail and a subject matter expert who has written for financial services companies for over three decades. The top 3 challenges Dan sees SMEs face at financial services organizations are:

  1. Complicated products and services – Having expertise on the subject is just half the battle. A valuable SME knows how to make content easy to understand and relatable.
  2. Inward-focused organization – The Finserv industry is a laggard in customer experience. A valuable SME focuses on customer experience and knows how to present the organization’s offering in a customer-focused manner.
  3. Navigating compliance – A valuable SME knows how to navigate the tricky waters of compliance, sometimes even collaborating with compliance teams to reach an optimal solution.

Transformation through your RFP response process

Although B2C and B2B organizational challenges are typically separate schools of thoughts, the SME challenges Lester and Dan shared are synonymous for most financial services RFPs. Transformation can occur through multiple facets of the organization, including your RFP response process.

Digital transformation

Part of digital transformation is using technology to meet customer expectations and stay ahead of your competition. Another part is being able to disseminate and share information, which is a common uphill battle with RFP responses. You and your team need to find and source that content, then manage and execute it effectively.

Organizational buy-in

Subject matter experts are the frontline RFP responders. Every day you’re digging into the trenches and fighting to find new solutions. Organizational buy-in starts with the team on the frontline. Then, you turn to the leaders in your organization to get them to sponsor your ideas, whether that’s a better process or new technology, like RFP software.

Putting the user first

Revenue earnings of the company depend on putting the customer first in your process. As the subject matter expert, your focus is always to put the user first. Your end goal is the satisfaction of the user, because that’s what drives revenue. The person who is happy is the person who is buying.

15 RFP responders explain how to craft a winning RFP response

15 RFP responders explain how to craft a winning RFP response

RFP responders and issuers spend a lot of time in a world of documents that determine important business outcomes. Rarely do these professionals speak candidly with one another about the RFP response process—which is why we brought both parties together here on The RFPIO Blog.

Recently 10 RFP issuers revealed their definition of a standout RFP response. This time we asked RFP responders to chime in with what it takes to craft a winning response. Enjoy this insightful content advice from 15 RFP responders in the trenches.

Content advice from RFP responders in the trenches

Brian Fleming, General Counsel and Proposal Management Specialist at CaseWorthy

It starts with an excellent executive summary. Know exactly what the client is struggling with (current state) and what they seek to accomplish with the procurement (future state). The executive summary should have a simple structure that addresses how the vendor’s solution will not only accomplish the future state but exceed even the loftiest of future state aspirations.

The rest of the proposal should use the executive summary as a jumping off point for explaining how the vendor’s solution will be the best choice, all the while erring on the side of brevity and responsiveness with the supplemental strategies needed to win the deal.


Hope Sutton, Marketing Communication Coordinator at Alera Group

Excellent RFPs are driven by personalization. From the cover page to the content inside, the entire RFP needs to be prospect/client centric. Going the extra mile to show the company that you are tailoring your approach to their needs is a must in today’s competitive market.


David Rynne, Presales Global Content Specialist at Basware

A well-executed executive summary is like a good subject headline. Your executive summary must be personalized for your buyer personas with solutions to their unique challenges, or else it doesn’t give the prospect a reason to read further.

The executive summary is there to position your company as a problem solver that offers multiple benefits and value. The rest of the RFP is structured the same—and reiterates the bullet points of the executive summary, but in more detail.


Erica Taylor, Co-Founding Partner at TINSEL Experiential Design

  • Provide a working project timeline to the clients, which demonstrates the feasibility of your team’s involvement and insight into your team’s process, systems, and action steps.
  • Re-articulate KPIs and success metrics—if applicable, include other measurable data points that might be valuable and prove the ROI of the project.
  • Whether it’s requested or not, share other projects and case studies with proof points that share the same aesthetic style or scope. This helps clients feel secure in the fact that you have the experience and expertise needed to get the job done.
  • Include a section to reflect open questions, which demonstrates that you are thinking deeply and analytically about the project proposed in the RFP.

Tyler Sweatt, Managing Partner at Future Tense

Context and clarity will set your RFP responses apart. Too many organizations respond to RFPs with canned marketing language and limited substance, making evaluation and differentiation extremely difficult.

Contextualize your response to the actual challenges the organization you’re responding to is facing. Show them you understand how your solution must fit into their environment. Make it clear that your solution or approach is credible and relevant through cases studies or supporting data.


Frank Oelschlager, Partner/Managing Director at Ten Mile Square Technologies

To make an RFP response truly stand out, it must not only meet the bar for completeness, content quality, and qualifications—it must also provide detail into both “the what” and “the how.”

The best way to offer this detail is by directly connecting the proposed solution to the various parts of the problem statement and requirements laid out in the RFP. Create a narrative that allows the buyer to visualize their success as a result of your partnership.


Greg Githens, Author at Catalyst & Cadre

The strategic thinking micro skill of empathy is critical to a good response. Make your potential client the hero of the story. Show that you have an adequate understanding of the client and their business environment. Imagine the RFP issuer reading your proposal with a compliance matrix next to them, where they first evaluate whether you understand their needs then how well your offer fits.


Walter Wise, CEO at The BPI Strategy Group

Respond to every requirement, providing the exact information requested, using the format that was requested. Write in layman’s terms, typically 10th to 11th grade level, as that is easy to understand by the evaluators. I don’t use fancy covers, but I do use Johnson Boxes and specific proposal graphics when practical.


Ingrid Christensen, President at INGCO International

  • Give yourself enough time. It usually takes double the amount of time to prepare a quality response than you estimated.
  • Research who is on the decision-making panel and figure out their pain points. Customize your proposal to hit all the details requested in the RFP and tailor your communication to address all pain points.
  • Take time to read, reread, and reread again. Make sure you have several team members review the entire document.
  • Deliver at least a day early. You don’t want all of your hard work to go down the drain because your RFP didn’t arrive on time.

Rafe Gomez, Co-owner at VC Inc. Marketing

Don’t feature verbose, unnecessary, or extraneous components that make absolutely no sense from a selling perspective. You don’t need to tell the whole story—just tell enough to hook your prospect. By describing the exclusive benefits your organization can deliver as quickly, concisely, and convincingly as possible…you’ll have greater potential to win the deal.


Diane Callihan, President at Callihan Content Creation

I always feel a bit sorry for the person who has to wade through a number of RFP responses, because they are typically so dry and boring. To stand out, I make my RFP responses fun to read—not being afraid to include some personality, attitude, and humor. My agency was awarded a large project, and the client said it had a lot to do with the fact that my proposal made them laugh.


Joe Marchelewski, Sr. Account Manager at Juris Productions PR

Being meticulous with the response is absolutely necessary. Do your homework on the company. What exactly are they asking? Who has represented them in the past? What kinds of clues can you find from their prior representation? RFP responses need context. Context only comes from understanding…which only comes from research.


Ken Gaul, Director at Source One

Understand that there is a certain amount of “checking the box” that needs to be done. Answer the face value question concisely, then springboard into your solution to the question(s) behind the question. Beyond what your prospective customer is asking you for, what should they be thinking about?

To rise to the top of the scorecard, you need to be competitively priced but you also need the prospect to feel that you understand their challenges innately, and that you can guide them to the ideal solution. The premise is that your solution is the ideal one, and they just don’t know it yet.

This is, of course, assuming that you’ve already done your due diligence and qualified the opportunity. Is the person running the RFP going to properly represent your solution to the true decision makers? If not, maybe pass on it. Your time is better spent on prospects with whom you can develop a relationship.


Tamara Van Meter, Firm Principal and Head of Interior Design at SMBW

  • Follow their lead. Use the client’s RFP format, including the order and terminology, to make it easy for them to read and evaluate.
  • Incorporate performance results from past projects to demonstrate the value you bring to the table.
  • Avoid oversaturating each page with text. A good practice with proposal formatting is to use photographs or graphics with no more than three supporting points for a clear and succinct message.

Lisa Rehurek, Founder and CEO at The RFP Success™ Company

Give prompts to your technical writers for each question. Make it easy for them to give you what you need, and help them in the process. Prompt them with how to answer the question with more detailed questions, or provide them with a table that outlines exactly what information you want them to provide. This keeps them focused, it gives you more consistency across multiple technical writers, and it makes the process simpler on them.


Looking for ways to improve team collaboration for stronger RFP responses? Start using RFPIO to craft winning content with your team.

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