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How response management supports your team

How response management supports your team

Since our founding, we have been on a mission to help RFP respondents succeed. As a leader in this relatively […]

Category: Selling & Enablement

How response management supports your team

How response management supports your team

Since our founding, we have been on a mission to help RFP respondents succeed. As a leader in this relatively new technological space, we’re one of the first to bring efficiency to responding teams limited by a manual approach to everyday business.

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

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

What is response management software?

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

An internal knowledge base

Response management software serves as an internal knowledge base, integrating with CRMs, content management systems (CMS), and collaboration tools to capture and democratize subject-matter-expertise and content across multiple teams, business units, or companies.

With process and technology improvements, respondents are able to create higher quality responses and additional revenue opportunities.

RFP software vs. response management software

RFP software is fairly one-dimensional in that responding to RFPs is the primary use case. Response management software supports many use cases. Content can be repurposed for:

  • Responding to a multitude of business queries—RFX (RFP, RFI, and so on)
  • Statements of work (SOW)
  • Security questionnaires
  • CAIQ
  • Grants

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

Essentials for RFP response management software

How can you tell when a platform has everything you need to optimize your response management process?

Response management software…

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


Let’s say you are a sales manager at an enterprise technology company with a high-stakes deal on the table.

The challenge

The prospect you’ve been working with sends you a large security questionnaire, along with a DDQ (due diligence questionnaire) that you must turn around by the end of the week.

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

The solution

Response management software allows you to manage multiple queries at once. You can handle the entire family of possible requests during the sales process—the RFP (request for proposal), RFI (request for information), DDQ (due diligence questionnaire), or security questionnaire.

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

You submit everything with time to spare and keep moving other deals forward.

Use cases for response management across revenue teams

Even with the best technology, teams need to be united by a strategy to maximize the features and capabilities of their tools. We recently created a user adoption strategy to help.

If you are leading the charge with user adoption, it’s important to know the benefits of the software and how one solution can be used in multiple scenarios and initiatives. So let’s take a look at different use cases across the team:

  • RFX
  • Security questionnaires
  • SOWs
  • Grants
  • Onboarding
  • Discovery calls
  • Proactive proposals
  • Sales emails
  • Knowledge sharing

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


RFPIO can be used for any RFX documents throughout the sales process.This includes:

  • RFPs (request for proposal)
  • RFIs (request for information)
  • RFQs (request for quote)
  • DDQs (due diligence questionnaire).

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

Security questionnaires

A security questionnaire can come in many forms:

  • Security questionnaires lite (standardized information-gathering questionnaires)
  • VSAQ (vendor security assessment questionnaire)
  • CAIQ (consensus assessments initiative questionnaire)
  • VSA (Vendor Security Alliance questionnaire)
  • NIST 800-171 (National Institute of Standards and Technology questionnaire CIS controls)

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

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

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

Marketing content

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

Discovery calls

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

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

Proactive proposals

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

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

Sales emails

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

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

Knowledge sharing

RFPIO’s Content Library serves as the single source of truth for the entire revenue team: sales, marketing, support, and customer success.

Information silos disrupt your response workflow. Foundational company knowledge ends up in a variety of documents, from visual slide decks to data-heavy spreadsheets—stored on shared drives and folders. RFPIO makes all necessary content readily available so everyone can do their best work.

Final thoughts

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

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

Collaborate now to prepare for that looming software RFP

Collaborate now to prepare for that looming software RFP

Life as a subject matter expert (SME) at a SaaS company is undoubtedly fast-paced and demanding. Contributing to software RFPs requires even more of your time and attention. Your time is valuable, but so is your participation in the software RFP process.

TJ Hoffman, COO of Sibme, offers some words of wisdom to help you understand why…

“My advice for any SME who thinks they don’t have time to prioritize the work it takes to help with an RFP is this: You don’t have time not to! Everyone in SaaS is busy, but market growth has to be at the front of everyone’s mind. Helping to capture new business through an RFP has to be at the top of your priority list.”

For your team to win business and achieve success, providing accurate, complete, and timely answers all fall under your domain. Let’s help you foster a collaborative environment now so you’re fully prepared when the next software RFP lands on your desk.

Why is collaboration vital with software RFP responses?

With software RFP responses, good collaboration is key. And, good collaboration requires good communication. Why?

  1. No one person can be an expert in all of the elements that are required to completely answer an RFP. An RFP responder acts as the wheelhouse, and all of the applicable SMEs are the spokes of the wheel. Every spoke must be solid and in place to keep the wheel rolling.
  2. SaaS companies often have remote teams scattered across the country or the world. Managing the entire RFP response process involves complex interdepartmental collaboration and can entail multiple and lengthy meetings to get RFP questions answered.
  3. Everyone already has a full-time role outside of helping with an RFP response. Working after hours to complete an RFP frequently becomes routine for you and your team. In such a scenario, collaboration must be efficient to keep everyone productive and to drive home that winning software RFP.

Good collaboration through better processes

65% of subject matter experts said their primary goal with RFP response was to increase efficiency through better processes. Creating efficient processes is also one of the key opportunities to save valuable time and help SMEs contribute more effectively to RFP responses.

Working smarter when responding to RFPs can mean the difference between winning the business or losing out to a competitor. Yet, a major impediment to efficiency is tracking down SMEs for answers.

You’re buried under a pile of projects while you’re on a well-deserved tropical vacation…these things happen. With such high stakes, how can you improve efficiency and answer software RFP questions proactively? Use intuitive RFP software to manage your content.

RFP software like RFPIO streamlines collaboration for every player in the RFP response game. The Content Library organizes and stores content for anyone on your team to access and use.

This gives you the opportunity to be proactive and maintain content so it is available to your team when you’re out of the office for your sister’s wedding. In turn, your proposal manager has direct access to the necessary content without having to text you in a panic. Everyone wins.

Own and maintain your content with RFP software

In a study conducted by Strategic Proposals of over 500 organizations, proposal teams who had the best and well-managed content library won the most business. To build that best-in-class library of pre-written content requires two things:

  • Subject matter experts who fully own and maintain their content.
  • A collaborative tool like RFP software to help SMEs own and maintain content efficiently.

You stand at the frontline of the RFP response process. SMEs possess the details necessary to form a complete, cohesive RFP response. Integrating RFP software like RFPIO reduces time spent tracking down answers so you can focus on winning the business.

RFPIO is a collaborative tool that allows you to take ownership of company knowledge and oversee a significant piece of the puzzle within the software RFP process. When the time comes to pull together an RFP response, all the disparate parts from each contributor combine into a cohesive final product.

RFP software is a holistic solution that helps you navigate logistical chaos in an efficient, collaborative environment. Using RFPIO to store and manage content gives you a medium to provide your expertise proactively, empowering you, your team, and your organization.

Ready to feel empowered? Foster a collaborative environment with RFPIO.

RFP compliance: Stay accountable and empower team success

RFP compliance: Stay accountable and empower team success

Your expertise is in high demand. You act as the contributor, the project manager, the content creator—maybe all of the above. You’re a subject matter expert in the RFP response process and your expertise gives content substance.

Because RFP responses become part of a legal and binding contract if the bid is accepted, compliance is crucial. How do you stay compliant when collaborating on RFP responses? Learn all about RFP compliance below.

Subject matter experts, the co-owners of RFP compliance

“On good teams, coaches hold players accountable. On great teams, players hold players accountable.” Joe Dumars, an NBA Hall of Fame inductee, gives us something to think about, doesn’t he?

The best response management teams recognize that compliance is everyone’s responsibility. You, as the subject matter expert, need to see yourself as a co-owner of compliance. As long as you monitor RFP response content for accuracy before, during, and after an RFP project, approval should be fairly quick by the time an RFP reaches your compliance team.

You proactively contribute RFP responses, then manage that content through scheduled review cycles. Responses to your assigned questions must be precise, data-neutral, and internally compliant with current company policy. Additionally, responses must reflect your organizational values and be technically sound.

If you own the whole process of creating, maintaining, and auditing RFP responses, you create a robust Content Library for the whole team to utilize at any point during an RFP response project. By creating a culture of accountability, everyone can rely on each other for the right content at the right time.

Hold yourself accountable for RFP compliance in 4 steps

As a subject matter expert, your time is precious. Understanding your team’s RFP response review cycle and content audit approach are key time-savers. Knowing your chain of command and speaking up if you see problems with the process are equally important for efficiency.

Below are some suggested steps that will offer guidance as you hold yourself accountable for RFP compliance.

1. Create an RFP response process.

An effective team clearly defines its RFP response process workflow. Review cycles might change based on content needs, but individual steps and team responsibilities are all clearly defined. For example, you might have:

  • Authors – Responsible for answering the question and curating that content. Usually, authors are subject matter experts.
  • Reviewers – Responsible for the final content audit within the RFP project. Reviewers are also the final say for what content should be kept in the Content Library for future use. Reviewers are often proposal writers or on the marketing team.
  • Project Managers – Responsible for ensuring the Author/ Reviewer workflow is set up correctly and followed. Project managers should have a clear depiction of the project management strategy set up by the RFP software admin users—and continually use this strategy to guide the RFP project.

2. Establish RFP content best practices.

A good RFP content management team makes sure content is up-to-date and data is neutralized. They schedule regular training for SMEs to keep systems running smoothly and aligned with organizational best practices.

3. Commit to RFP content accuracy.

Accurate content is the backbone of RFP compliance. SMEs (subject matter experts) should participate consistently in review cycles and content audits. The goal is to ensure absolute accuracy for optimum proposal compliance.

4. Keep up with review cycles.

SMEs are responsible for keeping up with the review cycle of all technical content that goes out the door, including content for security questionnaires and RFP responses. Review cycles can be conducted at any interval, depending on the timeline established during the RFP response process.

RFP Response Process Steps

How RFPIO enables RFP response compliance

In the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey, nearly half of subject matter experts indicated the main way RFPIO has helped them with their RFP responses was by enabling them to review content for quality and accuracy instead of writing repetitive responses. Let’s explore how RFPIO enables RFP response compliance through content review cycles and audits.

Review content for RFP compliance

Through the RFPIO platform, you are notified by email when your oversight is needed with RFP response content. You simply log in, review assigned questions or sections, and check for RFP compliance with current company policies and data neutrality.

Compliance teams strengthen their impact on RFP response success by utilizing sequential reviewers. A project manager, team leader, or proposal manager will be the first set of eyes on all the content. Then you come in and review that piece for internal compliance with things like terminology and company values.

Audit content for RFP compliance

By conducting regular content audits in RFPIO’s proposal management software, you help to create a robust Content Library of accurate, compliant content which is easily accessible at any point in the RFP response process. The more the Content Library is optimized, the stronger this knowledge repository becomes.

Another useful feature is the Answer Type Template, a customizable answer type that can be aligned with specific compliance pieces. Think of the Answer Type Template as your SME content auditing checklist. Data from these answers can be exported and manipulated into reports to efficiently target any compliance issues that need attention.

Fostering a culture of accountability with RFP compliance empowers your team to succeed. You’ll help protect your organization against liability and decrease RFP response completion time. When you take responsibility for compliance, you contribute to a winning team.

Schedule a demo of RFPIO to stay accountable with RFP compliance and empower your team’s success.

4 ways RFP software positively impacts your response process

4 ways RFP software positively impacts your response process

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” Paul J. Meyer shows us the power of having a dedicated system.

For subject matter experts (SMEs) involved in the RFP response process, the need for a dedicated system continues to be a moving target. In a recent RFPIO survey, 68% of subject matter experts revealed that increasing efficiency through better processes was their primary goal.

RFP software positively impacts the response process for teams every day. By staying committed to a plan, responders are experiencing more focus in achieving revenue objectives together.

The positive impact of RFP software on process

A recent APMP U.S. Benchmarks Report revealed promising insights. The majority (90%) of these organizations have a dedicated proposal management team, 70% have established best practices, and two-thirds have a documented proposal process.

Having an RFP response process is definitely a step in the right direction. But, is that process working well?

23% of APMP members said their process was working “very well” and 59% said “somewhat well.” RFPIO clients continually find opportunities to improve their RFP response process—and they combine their systematic approach with RFP software to achieve success.

1. RFP software allows you to respond to even more RFPs

In 2020 the Accruent team only managed 5-6 RFPs at a time. Two years later that number increased to 15-25 live projects at once, because RFPIO is a highly collaborative work environment that makes it possible for multiple RFP projects to happen simultaneously.

SMEs are called in to review content for accuracy, rather than spending time shelling out repetitive answers. This ability to multi-task means your team has ample time to pull together quality responses, increasing your win potential while moving forward with other revenue opportunities, like RFPs.

2. RFP software speeds up your completion turnaround time

When an RFP came through as a spreadsheet with 4,000 questions, the Illuminate Education team did not have a proper system in place. They had RFPIO up and running in ten minutes and they began submitting RFPs with tight turnarounds well before the deadline.

SMEs no longer need to stay up late to scramble with content contributions, since the RFP project starts and ends smoothly. Your team imports the file (spreadsheet, document, or PDF) then begin divvying up RFP responses. Export functionality makes the finished deliverable cohesive, without the need to fiddle endlessly with formatting.

3. RFP software helps you overcome large RFPs with small teams

The Tantalus team received an RFP from a company that was new to this step in the vendor selection process. The RFP issuer sent an enormous, complex spreadsheet and their team of two was suddenly tasked with 20,000 responses. They made it happen with RFPIO.

Although organizations have dedicated proposal management teams, SMEs still respond to RFPs and security questionnaires as an additional function of their primary job. Easy collaboration is key. Since our RFP software integrates with Slack and Microsoft teams, you receive clarifications and details from other team members with less email to keep up with.

4. RFP software saves you time through savvy content management

“Exact same question, exact same answer” became an anthem for the Finastra proposal management team. Repetition did not make their response management process any easier, as they had a disorganized content management system. Once they started using the RFPIO Content Library, it was a game-changer.

Your Content Library is a database. When cared for, from deduplicating to refreshing, you grab the most up-to-date RFP content and tailor as necessary. In this case, repetitive content is a good thing as RFP software recognizes the questions and matches the best responses, doing most of the work before you step in with your expertise.

Follow in the footsteps of your peers, who are seeing the positive impact of RFP software. Schedule a demo of RFPIO.

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.


The 2021 Benchmark Report: Proposal Management

Learn about the state of proposal management, and see what teams need to do to be successful in 2021

Read the report

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 Content 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 responses are straightforward with RFPIO

Whether you receive an RFI (or an RFP pretending to be an RFI), RFPIO is a straightforward RFI software 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 Content 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.

Turn obstacles into opportunities with improved healthcare RFPs

Turn obstacles into opportunities with improved healthcare RFPs

“80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.” Expectations for the customer experience are at an all-time high, especially in the highly competitive healthcare market.

RFPs affect your organization’s bottom line. Even if you aren’t directly responsible for sales KPIs, you are responsible for representing your company well. As a subject matter expert (SME), providing expertise is a huge part of your job function, which is why healthcare RFP responses frequently land in your inbox.

Below are a few key obstacles facing subject matter experts in healthcare—and opportunities for improvement through healthcare RFPs and collaborative processes.

3 obstacles facing a subject matter expert in healthcare

Albert Ho, Consultant at Healthcare Heroes and Project Manager at William Osler Health System, is a subject matter expert across multiple healthcare projects at any given time. Over the past two decades, he has faced plenty of operational obstacles as a Registered Nurse, Care Coordinator, and a Project Manager—below are his top three challenges.

1. Not enough IT resources

“IT resources often have multiple projects going on and I’m lucky to get 0.2 of a full-time equivalent. It takes days to get a response from the resources that are completing the work. This makes it difficult to report the status of projects to my manager and senior leaders.”

2. Leadership changes priorities

“Senior leadership will create an Annual Project List, which is reviewed quarterly. This should set the priorities for the upcoming three to six months. However, new priority projects often jump the queue of other priority projects, changing our focus at the last minute.”

3. Unable to obtain consensus in a short timeframe

“I’m often asked to gather requirements from five or more stakeholders, and it takes weeks of meetings to make one decision. With slow decision-making, this makes for slow-moving projects. One particular project took ten years to deploy.”

Turning obstacles into opportunities with healthcare RFPs

You might relate to one, two, or all three of these SME obstacles. So, the question is: How will you overcome them? Although Albert mentioned three obstacles, time and resources are the moral of the story.

Presumably, you can’t solve ALL of your organizational challenges singlehandedly. What you can do is start addressing one facet you are deeply involved in…responding to healthcare RFPs.

In a recent RFPIO survey we conducted, half of SMEs across industries said their primary challenge was spending too much time on RFPs. Keeping company content accurate was a close second, with 33% saying this was a hiccup in their response process.

A response management platform like RFPIO helps healthcare SMEs overcome time and resource obstacles, making space for you and your team to focus on other priorities.

1. A quick, collaborative environment

Healthcare RFPs are complex, requiring multiple collaborators to create content that is technically accurate and compliant with the issuer’s requirements. You’re the expert in your field, but since security measures are of great importance in the healthcare industry, often you will need to work with your IT team on responses.

With RFP software, a proposal manager assigns questions through the platform. If you’re working on your assigned response and realize IT needs to chime in, you simply assign the question to your IT team after you include your response. Or, if a minor clarification is needed, use Slack, Microsoft Teams, or @-mentioning within RFPIO to get a quick response.

2. Anytime access to accurate company information

When you are summoned to respond to healthcare RFPs or other business queries, the Content Library is your best friend. Rather than hunting down previous content in folders and spreadsheets, all of your historical documents live in one place. That means you can search, grab, and drop the content into your assigned responses.

Another quick way to find content is through RFPIO LookUp, which is a Chrome extension that allows you to find information straight from your browser without logging into the platform. To ensure accuracy, make sure you perform quarterly content audits to clean up your responses.

3. Moving projects forward with visibility

If shifting priorities and a lack of project visibility are common situations with your healthcare RFPs, response management dashboards diffuse both of those situations. From executive dashboards to project dashboards, your entire proposal management team will track progress as you move together toward the deadline.

Even with robust technology like RFP software, an important step to establishing success involves empowering individuals within your company to manage the system and processes. Make sure your team designates internal stakeholders as soon as you start using the platform, so projects run smoothly with an appointed owner, content manager, trainer, and project manager.

“We answer many security questionnaires from many healthcare organizations each year. It is estimated to take roughly 16 hours to complete a security questionnaire. The initial benefits we have seen with RFPIO are the ability for multiple people to collaborate on the same response versus emailing questions back and forth. That has saved a lot of time and effort.” – Rob Solomon

Being the expert in your field, you truly “hold the keys to the castle” when it comes to getting a proposal done right. You own anywhere from 5% to 20% of the questions on an RFP project, and your revenue team depends on you as a key player in the RFP response process.

By improving the way your organization handles healthcare RFPs, you’ll increase productivity and see greater success in your role. Schedule a demo of RFPIO to make a positive impact on your organization.

500 reasons to upgrade your security questionnaire process

500 reasons to upgrade your security questionnaire process

“If I have to fill out another 500 question security questionnaire…” This was the cry for help we recently received at RFPIO when a responder submitted a form to schedule a demo of our solution. We hear similar cries for help from responders every day.

The good news is: Your security questionnaire process can be better, as long as you upgrade it. That means using a response management platform to improve efficiency and collaboration.

So, we don’t have 500 reasons to upgrade your security questionnaire process. We do have 5 strong reasons though, and that should be enough to motivate you to make some amazing changes at your organization.

Strong reasons to upgrade your security process

1. Time

Saving time is number one on this list of reasons…for a reason. Spending too much time responding to security questionnaires is the top challenge we hear from prospects and clients. When they use a response management platform like RFPIO, they save tons of time—often cutting their response time by 40%-50%.

Security questionnaires ask pretty much the exact same questions over and over again. By having them stored and ready to go within the Content Library, you save time right there. Other great features are bulk answering, auto-respond, and import/export, which allow you to magically populate answers from previous security questionnaires. Then BOOM, you’re practically done.

2. Resources

With the aforementioned features, the system takes care of the heavy lifting so humans don’t have to do nearly as much. Those humans are your resources, some of which are your organization’s most valuable (and expensive) resources…subject matter experts.

The beauty with security questionnaires is actually the repetition. While this is a pain point in a manual process, repetition is ideal with response automation. These features keep you from nagging your subject matter experts (SMEs) to answer the same old questions. By protecting their time, you’re also protecting your company’s resource investments.

3. Knowledge

Those same SMEs are some of the most tech-savvy individuals at your organization. In a way, they are a living database of technical knowledge. This can be a major weak point. Information is not accessible to everyone if it’s stored in someone’s head. If that SME leaves, an organization is at risk to lose that knowledge when they walk out the door.

A centralized Content Library helps you overcome these information silos and potential weak points. It serves as a technical database anyone can tap into. Not only is this helpful for responding to security questionnaires, it’s also useful for sales reps who constantly need to answer technical questions. They know exactly where to go for the information and they don’t have to approach a busy SME and wait for a response.

“Make sure that everyone is using correct and uniform answers. With the wrong responses, you may be disqualified from moving forward or you run the risk of misleading the prospect or client about what you can and cannot do.” – Lihod Rachmilevitch, VP of PreSales and Customer Support

Security Questionnaires_RFPIO

Learn How OwnBackup Simplified Their Security Questionnaire Process

4. Trust

The whole purpose of security questionnaires is to demonstrate that you are the partner your prospect can trust. When they’re shopping for vendors, they want to decide if you or one of your competitors is the best (and safest) option with their data.

We have actually seen organizations attempt to move away from security questionnaires. They think their certifications have everything covered and they send those attachments. Instead of meeting the prospect’s security requirements, they are sacrificing trust to try and save time. But, they could save time, maintain trust, and win the deal with a more efficient security questionnaire process.

5. Happiness

Unhappiness is the product of inefficiency. Picture this: the proposal manager is chasing after SMEs for help, the SMEs ignore the proposal manager because they have to respond to the same questions, and the sales team is worried they will lose the entire deal if this security questionnaire doesn’t get done.

Let’s paint a better picture. Saving time, protecting resources, sharing knowledge, and building trust will ultimately make your team happier…and way more productive. A response management platform brings everyone together, encouraging a collaborative atmosphere to knock out important revenue-generating priorities.

The fact is that security questionnaires can be massive. And, they do take up a lot of time without a specific technology solution that eases the process. You might have workarounds today, but are they working for you and your team? And, will they work for you tomorrow?

You’ve learned some strong reasons for upgrading your security questionnaire process. Let’s get you on the right path with RFPIO.

Why that sales proposal matters more than you think

Why that sales proposal matters more than you think

If you’re deep into a sales process and seeking feedback from a prospect, any sentence with the word “unfortunately” in it generally doesn’t bode well. “Unfortunately, you weren’t selected.” Or, just as bad: “You were our number one choice, but unfortunately the project budget was cut.”

There is another sentence that fills salespeople with a sense of foreboding: “Please send me a sales proposal.” Or, even worse: “You’re invited to respond to our RFP.”

Why is this? It’s not as if creating a sales proposal is an unusual step. Most sales processes have a “proposing” stage. Surely being asked for a proposal is a positive sign—a buying signal.

There is quite a disconnect happening for sales teams when it comes to prioritizing sales proposals. Which is precisely why we’re here today to show you why that sales proposal matters and should not be ignored.

A sales proposal is not this

A sales proposal serves a very specific function within your sales process. But, let’s start with what it is not.

A sales proposal is not just a price quote. It’s not a marketing slick, a bill of materials, or a statement of work. If all the client has to work with is a price quote, the only information available to compare you with the competition is the cost. That’s a distinct disadvantage if you’re not one of the lower-cost options.

“Even if you’re seeing a ten percent conversion with sales proposals, depending on the cost that goes into creating those, it could be a far more efficient funnel than traditional outbound/inbound demand generation.” – Matt Heinz

Here’s what a sales proposal is

A sales proposal is a selling document designed to move the sales process forward—plain and simple. It should reinforce the work you’ve done throughout the sale process by:

  • Succinctly articulating your understanding of the client’s needs.
  • Outlining measurable business outcomes.
  • Recommending specific solutions.
  • Showing demonstrable ROI.
  • Calling out your relevant experience and differentiation.

It’s likely this proposal will be circulated far and wide within your potential client’s organization. For many stakeholders, this document will be their first interaction with your company. And we all know the importance of first impressions.

Making a good impression with your sales proposal

The goal of your sales proposal is to paint a clear picture of why your prospect should choose to work with you. Help them understand why you are uniquely positioned to address their needs more efficiently or effectively.

To create an impressive sales proposal, your document should be…

  1. Concise – Your sales proposal doesn’t need to be long. Around 4-5 pages will often suffice to get your point across.
  2. Simple – A proposal is a selling document, not a technical document. It doesn’t need to be complex.
  3. PersuasivePersuasive writing is a skill. Use the right tone of voice, avoid jargon or buzzwords, and focus on underlying business drivers.
  4. Personalized – Use the client’s name in a 3:1 ratio versus your organization’s name. The client should feel that this proposal is written for them, not you.
  5. Accuracy – If you are repurposing content from previous proposals, the quality of information quickly degrades. Leave plenty of time for reviewing and polishing.
  6. Visual – Break up the content by making good use of white space with graphics. Adhere to your marketing guidelines for brand consistency.
  7. Attractive – With sales proposals, appearance matters. Take the time to format your document into a presentable deliverable.

Make it look easy with proposal automation software

Why then it is so hard for sales teams to produce a good sales proposal? Because you have to work hard to make it look easy.

Writing something compelling from scratch is daunting and takes people out of their comfort zone. Instead, many will resort to copying and pasting from their last proposal. But quality and personalization will suffer. This is where proposal automation software plays a key part.

An RFP software or response management platform like RFPIO offers the ability to create and maintain a library of persuasively-written, formatted, up-to-date, and approved content. From which (often initiated from within the CRM application), sales teams can generate highly personalized sales proposals.

Using technology to automate your sales proposals allows you to make client-specific content selections to ensure only the relevant issues, outcomes, products, and value-drivers are incorporated. In other words, you quickly develop sales proposals that pack a punch.

You don’t need to become a Pulitzer-winning author or an expert in desktop publishing to impress prospects with your sales proposals. By allowing technology to do the heavy-lifting for you, you’ll “make it look easy” because this process is, in fact, easier with proposal automation software.

See for yourself. Happy to show you around RFPIO…schedule your demo here.

Develop high-impact proposals by making this mindset switch

Develop high-impact proposals by making this mindset switch

The Proposal Support Function (PSF) is critical to the overall selling process. Yet, all too often the PSF is viewed and treated as an administrative function instead of a strategic partner. This is a common organizational misconception, one that inhibits the creation of high-impact proposals.

Recently we were fortunate to have B.J. Lownie—the Founder, Managing Director, and Principal Consultant of Strategic Proposals—as our guest presenter for a webinar called “The Proposal Support Function: From Stepchild to Strategic Partner.” Over the last 30 years, B.J. has trained thousands of proposal professionals. He has helped them to be viewed by their respective companies as professionals and as critical to capturing business.

If you missed this webinar, have no fear…the entire on-demand webinar is available on YouTube. Because this educational hour was jam-packed with so many great insights, today we’re sharing a few highlights right here on our blog.

Excited to learn some tips and techniques that will help your Proposal Support Function (PSF) succeed? Enjoy some of the most profound moments from our recent webinar with B.J.Lownie.

“Aim high, rather than aim for mediocrity.” – B.J. Lownie

Demonstrating your strategic value in the PSF

Proposals are a team operation and collaboration is a necessary part of your process. A typical proposal management team includes sales, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and the Proposal Support Function (PSF).

The PSF has five main areas:

  1. Business / Strategy
  2. Planning / Management
  3. Content Development
  4. Document Management / Production
  5. Knowledge Base Administration / Support

Often we see people in PSF roles working 12-14 hours, including nights and weekends, to manage these areas and submit proposals before the deadline. To change that trajectory requires a change in mindset, both from the PSF but also from sales, SMEs, and management.

Empowerment comes from within—it’s up to you to improve your role and demonstrate your strategic value to the organization.

That means making sure you have the resources you need to succeed with your proposals, even if you need to fight for them. It means finding technology that supports your process, even if you need to fight for budget. It also means knowing best practices for developing high-quality proposals inside and out.

“Without the foundation, the proposal falls apart.” – B.J. Lownie  

Best practices for developing high-quality proposals

The foundation is everything. Besides following requirements and crafting the best possible content, that also includes knowing why you’re creating the proposal in the first place. Most PSF team members would answer that the reason they work so hard to submit proposals is to win.

A poor quality proposal can cause a loss of an opportunity. It’s up to the PSF to do everything in their power not to lose an opportunity. To increase the chances of success with your proposals:

  • Adhere to instructions
  • Address all requirements
  • Answer all the questions
  • Provide the best possible responses
  • Provide the necessary evidence
  • Receive the highest score possible

And, what is “success?” Anytime your team is working on a proposal, it’s important to understand what that definition of success is.

It’s also a good idea to make sure the pursuit is worth the time, resources, and energy. Is there a relationship already with the prospect? Or, is this proposal a shot in the dark? The PSF and sales should align their efforts.

When developing responses, here are several top-down best practices to follow:

  • Carefully consider the question being asked (What does the customer really want?)
  • Determine the customer’s wish list answer
  • Determine the best possible answer you can provide
  • Draw from a knowledge base
  • Add appropriate supporting information
  • Review response (Sales, SME, PSF)

If we look at your proposal content as food, think about what your customer wants to eat and how you can serve them the best possible meal. You can serve them “leftovers” from your knowledge base or you can prepare a fresh meal with the right ingredients. It’s up to you.

  “Don’t just get something out the door. Get something out the door that’s compelling.” – B.J. Lownie

Think ahead to produce high-impact proposals

A key piece of the PSF is the facilitation of the strategy and key messages. The Proposal Support Function never owns the strategy, since that is owned by sales. The PSF completely owns the facilitation…and being proactive is paramount.

Herein lies the problem. This is a typical timeline for proposals that you and your team are likely very familiar with.

rushed proposal process

Source: Strategic Proposals Webinar

Rushing the proposal out the door means you don’t produce your best work. It leads to a bad habit of M.S.U. (Make Stuff Up), which is obviously not the right process for developing high-impact proposals. If you can’t get information from your SME before the deadline, then you are technically an enabler of an inefficient process too.

Rather than filling in the blanks with an M.S.U. approach, think ahead and work with your team. Get started on the proposal as early as possible and make sure your resources are lined up already. When you’re proactive, this is what your proposal timeline looks like…

proposal timeline

Source: Strategic Proposals Webinar

If you think ahead, you start producing high-impact proposals. You have more time for quality control to ensure accuracy, clarity, relevancy, and professionalism. This is the number one area of responsibility for the PSF. Now you just need technology to empower you even further.

How RFPIO empowers the proposal support function

The facilitation of the strategy and key messages belongs to the PSF—and a response management platform like RFPIO serves a very similar role. RFPIO is really a support function to the proposal support function. The Content Library is the knowledge base for the entire organization, a content hub that can be used for proposals or any type of business query.

RFPIO gives you a way to access your highest quality content in one place. This saves you time as you don’t need to hunt through various documents, emails, and folders. You don’t stumble into the M.S.U. (Make Stuff Up) trap, because you have up-to-date, approved content ready to go in a searchable Content Library.

Assembling your team is much easier as you can assign specific questions and sections, then track progress along the way. Collaboration is easier with SMEs and sales anytime you do need clarification, with the ability to message directly inside the platform or through Slack.

Overall, RFPIO allows you to be more proactive, develop high-impact proposals, and improve your chances of winning the business opportunity. By having this advanced technology at your fingertips, you can feel more confident in your role. You can also say goodbye to being seen as the “stepchild,” and establish yourself as a strategic partner in the proposal management process.

Prepared to make the mindset switch? Request a demo of RFPIO to take the next step.

How to cure your longstanding RFP headaches

How to cure your longstanding RFP headaches

From Selling Power, by Ganesh Shankar

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

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

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

Finding answers to common RFP questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Increase your RFP success rate with relationship selling

Increase your RFP success rate with relationship selling

RFPs are a competitive knock-out sport: there’s only one winner who makes it to the podium. In my long experience as a senior account executive, there are ways to get an edge. Most elite sportsmen have some inside technique that just gives them a tiny advantage, but enough to win. I’m going to tell you my secrets for winning your next RFP.

The RFP has to show how you are the best fit for the job, right? That all starts with focusing on the relationship you have with your prospect.

Since Q4 is coming to a close, you need to make—or better yet—exceed your sales targets. It’s time to refocus on your prospect, so you can increase your RFP success rate and reach your sales goals.

Why do organizations lose RFPs?

That’s a big question, but here are some things I see consistently happening with organizations. The reasons are actually very simple…

  1. They don’t give themselves enough time.
  2. They don’t tailor their content.
  3. They don’t send the final draft.

As you have probably experienced firsthand, the time issue has an avalanche effect on everything else. The RFP quality just isn’t where it needs to be to win. There are so many people involved in an RFP response process. If you’re not on top of the process, it will show.

Part of the solution is improving your RFP response process as a whole. The other part of the solution falls in your court when you’re in sales. A couple of mistakes here and there might be overlooked if you have an established relationship with the prospect ahead of time.

A big reason why organizations win RFPs? They built a solid relationship.

Why the relationship is vital for RFP success

Establishing a relationship gives you the edge over your competitors. It also helps your potential client understand you, your product or service, and what’s in it for them. They’re not coming into this RFP blind. They will already have a knowledge of your product, personnel, and skills and they can see the benefits more clearly.

Ever heard of relationship selling? Hubspot describes it best…

“Relationship sellers prioritize their connection with the customer over all other aspects of the sale. They develop trust—usually by adding value and spending a lot of time with prospects—before attempting to close.”

It’s key to have a relationship ahead of time—at the very least to have had one conversation so you know where this RFP is coming from. If you receive an RFP out of the blue, contact the person issuing it and find out the background.

Is the opportunity worth pursuing? Or is this one of those situations where the issuer simply needs some bids to fill a procurement quota? Once you’ve decided to continue forward, it’s time to gain as much information as possible so you can start your RFP at a distinct advantage.

Research absolutely matters for your RFPs

Be diligent in your research. Increasing your RFP win rate involves a little homework upfront. This helps you make the most out of every conversation you have with a prospect, so you can tailor your RFP responses in the best possible way.

My own research process includes tracking LinkedIn profiles. Usually, there are two people you’re speaking with during the sales process. On LinkedIn, look both of them up and find out how long they’ve been at the company.

Sometimes if your prospect is a newbie, they may see this particular RFP as their big initiative to make an impression. It’s going to be very important that they put a good foot forward during this RFP evaluation process and select the proper vendor.

Put a little extra thought and time into that research phase—and be sure to check their previous companies and roles. When you do your research, it gives you a few more talking points so you can build a little rapport. People tend to respond better when they recognize the extra effort. It’s also easier to follow up with them later on.

Ask great questions to show quick value

From your research, create a list of detailed questions beyond merely the scope of the RFP. There is only so much you can find out with digital detective work. The best way to find out the answer to an unknown is to ask your prospect directly.

“Act like a win for your prospect is a win for you. Together, you’re trying to find the best possible outcome.” – Hubspot

Often times you will discover vital information as I did recently with a prospect. I asked a fairly simple question about their current RFP process to see how our response management platform might fit in. They told me this: “We’re moving to a cloud model and migrating all of our content to SharePoint.”

This helped me understand exactly which features I needed to share about RFPIO so they quickly understood the value of our solution. I didn’t mess around with features they wouldn’t care about.

Knowing these specifics made the conversation worthwhile for both of us. Then, I was able to communicate that sales intelligence to our RFP writers so they could create better content.

After you submit the RFP, follow-up

There are some practical steps you can take to ensure your RFP has the best chance of winning. And, these steps are often missed by organizations because they don’t build a follow-up strategy into the master plan.

This first follow-up step may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ll say it anyway. After you submit your RFP, confirm that the issuer received it. This follow-up is an opportunity to continue the dialog with the decision-maker. That quick email gives them the impression you are eager to do business with them.

Sometimes they don’t let you know you have moved on to the second round promptly, so again a quick call can help. Use that time to briefly reinforce how your service or product plays in with their future plans.

You always need to have a plan for following up, and maybe sending additional information if needed. Think of the issuer’s needs, and you’ll always know what those content assets look like. When you’re proactive about following up, it shows the issuer that you want the deal. So, do what it takes to stay top of mind.

“The main principle underpinning relationship selling is simple: Always think about the long-term impact of your actions.” – Hubspot

RFP software keeps track of the entire deal

From a sales perspective, it’s nice to have a system like RFPIO that allows you to communicate and have a forum to discuss issues internally among your team. RFPIO allows you to keep track of all your notes about the sales process and the deal. Not necessarily just about the content of the submission, but also collating all the other information surrounding the proposal.

One of RFPIO’s most important features for you is Salesforce integration. Since the RFP is being worked on by other people in your organization, tracking progress is key. With RFPIO, just look in your Salesforce dashboard to find out that information quickly and easily.

You want to have a system that can automatically alert you about different tasks and follow-ups and things that you need to do. For example, if I need to send somebody an email in three weeks, there’s zero chance I’m going to remember that unless I have a system in place that alerts me. So, having all sorts of tasks set up within RFPIO is extremely helpful.

Winning RFPs is significant for your company’s bottom line. If you look at the dollar amount of the total projects you could win, it might be huge if you are consistently winning bids with perfectly-tailored proposals.

The relationship is an important part of both your RFP process AND your sales process. Put some time and energy there and you’ll see the pay-off.

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