When your company handles or stores customer data, security questionnaires and RFPs from prospective clients are sure to come through. Companies in highly regulated industries with strict compliance requirements (think finance, banking, insurance, etc.) need to know that their data will be protected, and it’s the job of the potential vendor to answer hundreds or even thousands of questions to assure them it will.
OwnBackup was founded in 2015 as a Salesforce partner that provides a mission-critical backup and recovery solution for companies that use Salesforce—a CRM platform that houses sensitive data about sales activities, financial forecasting, and customer contact info, among other things.
In the case of a user-inflicted data loss or data corruption, OwnBackup recovers that sensitive data and puts it accurately back, relationships intact, into the platform with little to no down time or interruption.
Lihod Rachmilevitch manages the pre-sales engineers and technical customer support teams at OwnBackup. He started in 2016 as the main technical product resource and one of two people answering RFPs and security questionnaires. As the company grew, and they began fielding more and more proposal requests, he made the call to find an RFP and security questionnaire response software to automate some of the work.
Lihod chose RFPIO over the competition because it had the most advanced technology, integrations and project management capabilities. What resulted was cutting their time responding to RFPs and security questionnaires, optimizing their response processes, gaining visibility into performance, and building a strong partnership between the companies.
Optimizing a key revenue-driving process
The initial process for responding to RFPs and security questionnaires at OwnBackup—like at many companies—was inefficient and unsustainable. Lihod said, “In the beginning, the CTO and I were responding to proposals, and we became the bottleneck. We’d get an Excel file with hundreds of questions, and we’d have to review and answer them, and return them back to the account executive to send to the prospect, within a short window of time. It just wasn’t efficient.”
However, those proposals drove a significant proportion of the company’s revenue. “I would say that on every third opportunity we have an RFP or a security questionnaire.”
Lihod’s first step was to build a repository of questions and answers in a shared drive. Then he started hiring more pre-sales engineers as technical support for the account executive team. Because RFPs and questionnaires were full of technical questions about the solution, its security, and the Salesforce integration itself, the pre-sales team began to take over proposal responses, freeing up the account executives to pursue outbound sales opportunities and field proposal requests as they come in.
Once he had the right team in place, finding an automation solution became the next order of business.
Advanced technology for complicated security questionnaires
The cornerstone of RFPIO’s platform is the Answer Library, a dynamic, centralized repository for a company’s content. Built into the library is an AI-powered recommendation engine, that uses data based on past activity to serve up contextually relevant content and even suggest contributors with whom a user may have worked before. When he was making his selection of RFP software, this functionality appealed to Lihod for multiple reasons.
“I was really impressed with the recommendation engine because it was able to create a more accurate repository, resulting in two things: One, it expedited the process. Instead of turning around a long questionnaire in three weeks, today it’s less than a week.
Secondly, the answers are much more accurate and consistent. This is another challenge—making 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.”
The other technical advantage that Lihod found with RFPIO is the patented upload process for proposal docs of all sorts. Some companies use standardized formatting for proposal requests, and others reinvent the wheel with their requirements.“Seeing how easy it was to upload all kinds of questionnaires and then manage them within RFPIO was a big relief.”
The pre-sales team sometimes needs help from other departments to answer questionnaires, so having the option to assign questions to guests (like a member of the legal or accounting team) was another useful benefit.
Visibility, security, and accountability
Lihod has more visibility into the RFP and security questionnaire response process now, in both RFPIO and Salesforce, which allows him to see new requests from account executives and then prioritize those requests based on urgency. Everyone can be working on the same project at the same time.
Ironically, it makes their operation even more secure. “This increased visibility allows us to make sure that we are not providing any confidential or sensitive information to prospects when we don’t have an NDA in place,” he said.
As a manager, now he can track a number of key performance metrics like how much time it takes them on average to complete and send a response back, individual contributions to any given project, and how many projects they’ve completed in a certain amount of time.
The partnership between OwnBackup and RFPIO has been strong, partially because of the company’s similarities: SaaS companies experiencing rapid growth; a commitment to providing data security for customers; and a solution that people rely on every day.
“The RFPIO team is very knowledgeable about the product and they are especially responsive to our needs. They are quick to jump on a call to resolve issues—within a few hours or the same day. It helps us keep on track and deliver on proposals,” Lihod said. “They listen to our requirements and have gone as far as to make developments in their platform based on those.
It was very appealing to me to have a partner, not just a vendor, and that’s what we’ve found in RFPIO.”
Looking for help with security questionnaires? Schedule a demo with our team.
“Seeing how easy it was to upload all kinds of questionnaires and then manage them within RFPIO was a big relief.” – Lihod Rachmilevitch is the VP of PreSales and Customer Support at OwnBackup.