6 smart moves that will increase your RFP win rate

How can we increase our win rate? We ask this question often, because the success of any organization depends on it.

No longer is it just sales who is responsible for generating revenue. Companies are breaking down silos and combining efforts to drive positive results. Thanks to an increased focus on sales processes and team alignment, teams have greater chances of meeting their revenue goals. Winning RFPs is the key to unlocking new business and an ad hoc process won’t cut it.

The classic challenge with RFP response is a high effort with a low rate. So, here are several smart moves that will help your team increase their RFP win rate to make the pursuit worthwhile.

1. Eliminate manual tasks

Busy teams continue to tread water with repetitive tasks that take their time and energy away from higher priority tasks. Responding to RFPs is still a very manual process for companies, involving spreadsheets and folders.

The bigger picture with automating RFP response is how saving time impacts the entire business. For example, take a mid-sized company that responds to 50 RFPs each year manually. Say, it takes them 60 hours on average to complete an RFP response, because they are a complex organization with multiple departments involved in the process.

The reality is that the company is spending 3,000 hours annually responding to RFPs. If RFP automation can decrease proposal creation time by 30%, the company will gain 900 hours of increased capacity per year. Imagine how many more RFPs (and new business) they would be able to pursue with that time savings.

2. Be consistent with RFP responses

A consistent RFP response is a solid one, making it more effective at winning opportunities. But, consistency in responses is a common pitfall for organizations.

It’s easy to see why when they are working with multiple SMEs for input, with content stored in various nooks and crannies. Inevitably when an RFP arrives, it often involves a quick-turnaround. And when you have teams working nights and weekends to complete RFPs by the deadline…well, the RFP response will suffer.

Mistakes happen—as do rushed deliverables of RFP responses that are not as strong as they could be. Even the most militantly organized teams will struggle with navigating a Google spreadsheet when they need to find content in a hurry. This is why an answer library makes a world of difference when it comes to consistency with RFPs.

3. Centralize content in an answer library

With the number of high RFPs you’re responding to, you definitely don’t want to start from scratch with each response. It will only cost you more time in the end, time that could be better spent on the next great RFP pursuit for your company.

An answer library benefits teams, as it centralizes the content so teams can find the best response quickly. Being able to search for answers in one place removes the unnecessary hunt for company information.

With perks like auto-response available in RFP software, responses are suggested automatically, eliminating yet another step and shortening the RFP response. Teams centralizing their content will have more time to improve the quality of each proposal, resulting in higher win rates.

team alignment

Source: Act-On Software

4. Create a solid internal review process

Since a high-quality RFP response increases its chances of success, before a deliverable goes out the door, an internal review is a must-have. Organizations rushing to meet a deadline will often skip this step, and the result is a weaker response that could have been caught in time and improved.

When you have your RFP responses centralized in an answer library, the review process also becomes easier. Whether the content approval process involves your marketing department or proposal manager, gathering responses will speed up the collaborative process.

Better yet is having a quick way to communicate when clarifications and revisions are needed. RFP management solutions will come with alerts, @-mentioning, and even integrations with popular communication tools like Slack. Easier communication will help the RFP review process move forward before the deadline occurs.

5. Work responsibly with SMEs

A large part of RFP response quality depends on the expertise behind it. Responses without this input are missing the technical know-how that back up the service or product your company offers.

SMEs offer valuable input for RFP responses, but spending time on RFPs is a low-priority task on their full plate. To work well with SMEs, the proposal lead should be clear on what is needed by asking concise questions and keeping SMEs in the loop with outstanding items.

Scheduling review cycles and assigning specific areas of the RFP will ensure faster completion of the RFP response—and a happier working relationship. Even if you don’t have an RFP tool, think of more efficient ways to communicate, like scheduling a 10-minute in-person conversation versus sending an email request.

6. Pursue the right opportunities

Even though the prospect of new business is exciting, not every opportunity is worthy. Knowing if you are the right fit with another company before submitting an RFP response will make a difference with a win rate for obvious reasons.

Why spend so many hours chasing the wrong opportunity when you could better spend your time on the right one? It makes sense. But, how do you know right versus wrong when you are doing everything in your power to win new business?

Few organizations track metrics relevant to RFPs, but there are several simple calculations that will offer useful insights, such as an average response rate. By tracking this metric, companies know a high RFP response rate can reveal a need for more checks to ensure the RFP source is a genuine pursuit. And, less time spent on opportunities that aren’t the right fit is always a smart move for busy teams.

The pursuit to win new business with RFPs can be worthwhile with a sound approach. By applying these methods to your existing RFP response process, you will start to see a happier, more productive team that delivers positive results.


As the Co-Founder and Content Strategist at Superneat Marketing, Britt strives to inspire RFP responders with content and resources that support their cause.

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