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Level up your RFP responses through the power of storytelling

Level up your RFP responses through the power of storytelling

Any marketer knows you need to build trust and credibility with your audience from the very beginning. Studies show that […]


Level up your RFP responses through the power of storytelling

Level up your RFP responses through the power of storytelling

Any marketer knows you need to build trust and credibility with your audience from the very beginning. Studies show that 81% of people consider trust to be a key factor in making purchasing decisions, which just goes to show how important it is to develop content that builds trust with your prospects.

In addition to blog posts and customer case studies, RFPs also provide lots of opportunities to establish trust with your prospect. And one of the most powerful ways to achieve this is to incorporate authentic storytelling in your RFP responses. Here are some reasons why you should include impactful stories in your RFP responses and a few tips for getting the process started.

How stories can strengthen your RFPs

Good sales reps know how to uncover their prospects’ needs. But great sales reps know how to use stories to build lasting relationships.

They know that an RFP is not just a sales pitch or proposal. It’s also a great opportunity to make an impact. And the most effective way to make an impact is to tell your organization’s story in a way that resonates with your prospect.

Why are stories so powerful? For one thing, stories are remembered up to 22 times more than statistics, and they also help to make your brand more human. Using stories that speak to your prospect’s needs and pain points can get them to really listen and engage with your brand.

By showing prospects you really understand what they’re experiencing and have a solution to their problems, you set yourself apart from your competitors. Stories are a powerful tool to help you show your prospects why they should choose your product or service over a competitor’s.

Great stories begin with great content

If you’re serious about crafting winning RFP responses, you need to find the right stories to tell. When choosing your stories, make sure they both inform and captivate your readers. To accomplish this goal, ask yourself what your prospect really wants and needs. Having a clear understanding of your target clients and how your company meets their needs can help you figure out the best stories to include in your RFP responses.

You might show how your company was founded to address the specific problems your prospect is looking to solve. Or how your company’s founders understand your prospect’s pain points because they were once in the same position.

When choosing your stories, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Requirement: What are your prospect’s underlying needs?
  • Output: What sort of impact will your product or service have on their business
  • Solution: What problem will your product or service solve for them?
  • Evidence: Why is your product or service the best solution for them? Make sure you use data, testimonials, or customer case studies to explain why.

Once you’ve come up with brand stories that really strike a chord with your prospects, there’s no need to keep updating them. That’s because telling the same story makes you seem reliable and consistent, which helps you stand out. And most importantly, it can help you build trust with your audience and prospects.

So don’t change your stories, but make sure that your message is the same across all marketing channels and in every conversation with prospects and customers.

To keep things consistent, you also need to train your team on how to use storytelling when answering a prospect’s questions and helping them make a buying decision. Let them know that reciting a list of features just won’t cut it when it comes to engaging prospects with your company. Instead, it’s the stories you tell that make the biggest impact on them.

Show your team how to make use of your organization’s story, and how to explain why your product or service is the one prospects need the most.

Why a content library is a must for RFP storytelling

Deciding on which stories to include in your RFP responses is the first step. The next step is making sure your team can access this content quickly and easily.

A high-quality RFP response tells your story with accurate, engaging detail that makes it clear why you stand out from the competition. At the same time, your content needs to be well-organized if you want to communicate this story effectively.

That’s why you need an RFP content library to help you organize your stories so your team can access them quickly when necessary.

Here are some best practices for building your RFP content library:

  • Curate compelling RFP content: When building your RFP library, choose content that both informs your readers and draws them in. Aim for detailed, colorful answers that clearly illustrate the benefits of your product or service and show the human side of your business. Teach your team members how to create compelling stories so they can contribute additional RFP responses to your library.
  • Organize your responses: Once you have your library of responses, you’ll need to organize them. The best way to go about this is to categorize your RFP content using tags and collections so it’s easy for team members to find. There are lots of different technology solutions like RFPIO that you can use to set up a tagging system that works. Make sure your tagging system has clear guidelines for your team members and hold regular training sessions to make everyone’s on board with your tagging strategy.
  • Keep your content fresh: Keeping your content fresh and up-to-date is a must for maintaining a library of RFP responses. Be sure to schedule regular audits to check the quality of your content and update it when needed. During these audits, assign content to subject matter experts and set up a tagging system to help them update and rearrange content.

The power of storytelling in RFP responses

When it comes to RFP responses, remember that RFPs are more than just a sales pitch, but are an amazing opportunity to tell your brand’s story and win over your audience. By bringing effective storytelling into your RFP responses, you can show prospects that you really understand their needs and set the stage for a long-term relationship with them.

Check out my full webinar below to learn more about the importance of using storytelling in your RFP responses. Or request a demo if you want to learn how to use RFPIO to create your own RFP content library.

3 tips for organizing your RFP content library: tagging, custom fields, and collections

3 tips for organizing your RFP content library: tagging, custom fields, and collections

Yay! You just added RFPIO and it’s time to start completing RFPs and security questionnaires (if you’re already an experienced user, stick with us; there’s something for everyone here). Pop the champagne cork! Cue the band. Repeatedly refresh email because congratulatory back-pats are sure to arrive soon from upper management, SMEs (subject matter experts), sales, security, and anyone else who participated in past RFPs.

Now what?

It’s time to build out your Answer Library. Your answer library consists of documents, question and answer (Q&A) pairs and templates that represent the backbone of your RFPIO instance. But tread lightly before proceeding. In a recent RFPIO survey, 50% of proposal managers said keeping response content up-to-date and accurate is their biggest challenge, but only 31% of responders audit their RFP content library as often as once a quarter.

So how can you set yourself up for success to build and maintain content in RFPIO? It starts with tagging, custom fields, and collections, which will also expedite access to relevant information for internal and external users alike.

Here’s how.

But first: You don’t have to go it alone

Start by defining your RFP team. Who is going to be the Champion of RFPIO? Typically, this falls on an executive sponsor or the proposal manager.

Are you the content champion? This is the decision-maker, someone who will own the process of building and maintaining content. If it’s not you, then make sure someone gets designated. No matter how organized you are, this is mandatory.

After you identify the content champion, bring in your content stakeholders. These are all the participants you’ve been working with on past RFPs. It’s likely that these encompass internal and external users. They may be SMEs in different locations, departments, and roles. Identifying their roles and responsibilities will determine how you set up workflows in RFPIO.

Once your team has been identified, it’s time to discuss workflows and organization methods. Remember that you’re only one person, so it’s important to not forget about the rest of the team that will help you achieve RFPIO success. Create and document a plan to communicate content workflows. Make sure all contributors can easily find what they need to complete their assigned tasks. Have the whole team of stakeholders sign-on.

OK, now this is how: Tagging

Segment your content with tags. Tags are simple, general categories to help group your content together and are the first step to take when organizing your content. Every document should have at least one tag. Examples include “onboarding,” “implementation,” and “contracts.”

At this point, you may be wondering how to get started. It’s a common hurdle, especially for companies that have never used tags or any other structured content organization strategies. Within RFPs and security questionnaires that you’ve received, there are sections about company information and other content that you may have just been copy and pasting from document to document. Harvest your initial tagging schema from these generic sections that appear in most of the RFPs you have already submitted.

RFPIO Best Practice: All content needs to have at least one tag. That includes all documents and all question and answer (Q&A) pairs. We recommend no more than three, though, so as to avoid search conflicts within the system.

Is that field “custom”? Sweet!

Every company is unique, which means every company’s content has unique characteristics. For categories that are organizationally unique and allow for flexibility and adaptability in search, our clients leverage Custom Fields. Custom Fields may apply to a product, service, geographic region, or whatever best fits your business. But they do have to make sense. It’s easy to bog the process down with too many custom fields.

RFPIO Client Example: Here’s an example of how custom fields helped a client exponentially improve search of their more than 15,000 Q&A pairs. First, we started with the generic tag of “support,” which whittled 15,000 options down to 800 or so. Already an improvement. But then we tagged all applicable Q&A pairs with a client product name. That drilled down results from 800 to 115. Within two clicks—about 30 seconds—we were able to identify a small subset of applicable content.

Restrict content with collections

Within RFPIO, collections allow you to restrict sensitive content visibility. You create siloed walls around sensitive content based on content that should be restricted to specific users. Good examples of Collections are legal/security data or even geographic data. For example, sales may not need access to legal or high-level proprietary information that legal or security teams need to access. Or a North American team may not need access to some content that is necessary for a European team to access for GDPR compliance.

Why waste users’ time sorting through content they can’t even use? With collections, search is much more efficient.

But what about maintaining content?

Great question. First, always feel free to work with your RFPIO customer success managers to set up demos of specific features. Second, check out the webinar I presented on building and maintaining content in RFPIO for more (below), including live Q&A with participants on:

  • Optimizing Q&A editing
  • Setting up custom fields and collections
  • Conducting bulk updates on multiple pieces of content
  • Using filters for moderation
  • Setting up multiple responses for a single question—one for US-based teams and another for those based in the UK, for example.

If you’re just getting started, then you have a lot to look forward to. 82% of proposal managers said RFPIO helps them manage response content all in one place.

Interested in automating your RFP processes with RFPIO? Schedule a demo to learn more.

3 ways technology improves the response process for remote teams

3 ways technology improves the response process for remote teams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and reframe them into simple questions like…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on the win

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

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

What can you expect in a security questionnaire?

What can you expect in a security questionnaire?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cybersecurity policies and policy documents

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

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

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

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

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

Security procedures

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

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

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

IT risks and mitigation controls

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

Top questions in the area of risk management include:

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

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

Next steps for streamlining your security questionnaire response

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

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

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

Why RFPIO hosted our first virtual sign language workshop

Why RFPIO hosted our first virtual sign language workshop

At RFPIO, we believe that if you aren’t actively inclusive, you will be unintentionally exclusive.

According to the most recent census data, there are over 5 million people who are deaf or hearing impaired living in India — and yet only 1,500 people of hearing know Indian Sign Language (ISL).

At the same time, the number of deaf and hearing-impaired people entering the workforce is expected to increase by 50% over the next five years.

When we saw these statistics… we decided we needed to do something to create an inclusive and welcoming environment for the deaf community.

The RFPIO India team attended a virtual sign language workshop, taking our first company-wide step towards inclusivity

In 2015, K Murali, who is hearing impaired, quit his clerical job to found a school that empowers the deaf and hearing population through education. Today, the school has nearly 50 students and five teachers, giving vocational training to deaf students in skills like website design.

In addition to empowering the deaf community through education, the organization also teaches Indian Sign Language to people with hearing, with the mission of creating a more inclusive society.

On July 3, we invited Sneha Murali (K Murali’s daughter) to host a virtual sign language workshop with the RFPIO India team. We invited all 93 members of the India team to join the 2-hour workshop, where Sneha gave an intro lesson, equipping the India team with the basic tools they’ll need to start communicating in Indian Sign Language.

We’re creating an inclusive environment, because we know we’re better together

The Indian Sign Language workshop is just a small part of RFPIO’s initiatives in creating a more inclusive community.

We believe that technology has the potential to create a more inclusive future—and we would like to be part of it.

Because we know that people work best when we’re working together—we’re happier, funnier, and smarter when we’re together. That’s why we’re committed to bringing everyone together. We know that we’re better together.

If you’d like to do more research on how to create an inclusive and welcoming community for people with disabilities in the tech industry, here are some excellent resources that can get you started:

How RFP automation software helped Elevate Capital streamline their RFP process

How RFP automation software helped Elevate Capital streamline their RFP process

Elevate Capital is an inclusive venture capital fund that specifically targets investments in underserved entrepreneurs, such as women and ethnic minorities, or those with limited access regionally to capital and opportunities.

They believe there is tremendous opportunity to invest early and offer mentorship to these entrepreneurs—which is why they provide the venture capital and guidance they need to turn their startups into great companies.

In order to effort to continue to support this underserved group of budding entrepreneurs, Elevate Capital launched a new fund in 2020. Shortly after launching this fund, they received a 24-page RFP from an institutional investor.

Much to their surprise (and delight), they finished the behemoth of an RFP in the same amount of time it usually takes them to finish RFPs a sixth of the size.

“And there’s no way we could have done it so quickly and efficiently without RFPIO,” asserted Nitin Rai, the Founder and Managing Director at Elevate Capital.

Working in real-time with built-in collaboration tools

Before the Elevate team implemented RFPIO, their RFP response process was confined to static Word Documents. Each collaborator would update a given Word Document using track changes or comments.

Several versions later, all the contributors would come together for an in-person meeting or conference call to go through the RFP, line-by-line, to make sure everything was accurate and up-to-date.

With RFPIO, they were able to work together all in one place, using in-app comments and @-mentioning. Nitin Rai described collaboration in RFPIO as “an amazing experience. Instead of going back-and-forth in 10 different versions of the same Word doc, we were working together in real-time. Working in RFPIO is what collaboration is supposed to be like.”

“We ended up producing a 75-page response from a 25-page questionnaire and we did in just three weeks. There’s no way we could have done it as well as we did without RFPIO.”

A more efficient RFP response process means more time for other things

Because the collaboration process was so much easier, the Elevate Capital team was able to complete and submit a beautifully polished RFP in 3 weeks—the same amount of time it typically took to respond to RFPs that were 6 times shorter.

In-app collaboration tools meant the Elevate Capital team wasn’t spending time sending emails, searching for the right version, or scheduling in-person meetings and conference calls.

By eliminating inefficiencies from the response process, their team was able to quickly pull together a beautifully polished RFP—with enough time to spare to stay focused on their other responsibilities.

The future of RFP response at Elevate Capital

Now that Nitin has populated RFPIO with content relevant to Elevate Capital’s most recent fund, he and his team will be able to respond to future RFPs even more quickly.

Instead of writing each RFP from scratch, or searching through their hard drives to find previous RFPs, they can automatically respond to any repeat questions using RFPIO’s AI-enabled Auto Respond feature. The more RFPs the team responds to, the more accurate Auto Respond will become.

Nitin anticipates that Elevate Capital will quickly see a return on their investment—and he believes that an automated solution to the RFP response process is definitely something other venture capital funds would benefit from.

“After using RFPIO to respond to RFPs, I will never go back to a manual process—it has made a huge difference.”

Why you need the ultimate library for your RFP responses

Why you need the ultimate library for your RFP responses

People from unique business units respond to RFPs, and only a select few have “RFP management” listed in their job descriptions. Because various content contributors must band together to create quality responses, this content must be centralized and accessible.

In reality, response content is scattered across spreadsheets, Google Drive folders, or perhaps a content management system. The result of a disjointed RFP response process is apparent in these survey responses about top challenges:

  • 43% of SMEs are spending too much time on RFP responses.
  • 50% of proposal managers can’t keep content up-to-date and accurate.
  • 43% of marketers are wearing too many hats and don’t have time for RFPs.
  • 68% of salespeople struggle with focusing on sales-related activities.

So, what is the secret to more efficient RFP content management? You need the ultimate answer library for your RFP responses.

It’s time to address your RFP content production cycle

With the high number of RFPs you’re responding to, you know you don’t want to start from scratch with each response. It will only be more time lost when you don’t have any to spare.

Perhaps your response management team has already recognized the importance of having an answer library, but the best they could come up with is a workaround. Keeping up with a spreadsheet database is practically a job on its own and searchability isn’t the best. And, how can you begin to keep graphics or supporting attachments organized?

38% of content marketers said the production of content was by far their biggest challenge. Even if you are not a marketer, you are undeniably a content creator if you respond to RFPs. The same content creation challenges ring true in the response process.

Your RFP content production cycle should include an easy way to:

  • Find content.
  • Create content.
  • Customize content.
  • Review content.
  • Format content.
  • Audit content.

RFP software is a dedicated solution that provides a robust, collaborative answer library to meet all of your RFP response needs. Best of all? It’s easy to use.

What to expect from the ultimate RFP answer library

We’ll admit…the word “ultimate” gets thrown around a lot in the business world. But, when you modernize your RFP response process with RFP software, you truly have the ultimate RFP answer library at your disposal.

Because you are working within a dedicated solution for responders—rather than a system of workarounds—you’ll enjoy many benefits that positively impact your RFP content lifecycle.

Store marketing-approved content in one place

Most marketing departments are in charge of approving content for RFP responses. Your answer library serves as a centralized location for marketing approved content to keep the RFP process moving forward smoothly. When approved content is sitting in an email or Excel, it can easily slip through the cracks and delay progress.

Stitch quality content together quickly

An RFP software answer library gives you an option to browse various responses for a similar question in historical RFPs. Quickly stitch together high-quality responses to customize your response for a better chance of closing the deal. It’s never one-size-fits-all for RFP responses, so it’s important to have that level of control over your content.

Organize your answer library to easily find content

The key to an organized answer library is using tags—something you would be hard-pressed to pull off in a spreadsheet. Tags might include: security, architecture, pricing, customer references, terms and conditions. Narrowing down your response content hunt with effective tagging makes searching highly targeted and efficient for your team.

Automate response content and customize

How great would it be if an answer was already generated for you in your answer library? Going the extra mile, a recommendation engine takes searching out of the equation entirely—a lot like the auto-suggest features you’re familiar with in other search platforms or email solutions. And you’re never stuck with the recommended answer, because you have the power to customize it.

Optimize responses with content audits

Your answer library is a living breathing resource, and there are times when it needs a cleanup or refresh. Having a workflow option where the system periodically sends out a friendly content audit reminder to content owners will help everyone stay on top of RFP responses, so they are always relevant and optimized.

89% love having a centralized answer library

Whenever we ask responders about their favorite RFPIO feature, the answer library is consistently the top choice. 89% of responders love having a centralized answer library, because they have unmatched abilities when it comes to storing, organizing, and accessing responses—especially when compared to a previous manual process.

As the Manager of Sales Solution Architects at LexisNexis, Jeff Skott achieved content management mastery and reduced his response time by 25-30%. Watch the video to learn how Jeff gained these superpowers after transforming his answer library.

How to collect signatures electronically, without leaving RFPIO

How to collect signatures electronically, without leaving RFPIO

There are a lot of words I could use to describe 2020 so far, but I think I’m going to go with “colorful”. 2020 has been chock full of abnormalities, ranging from “out of the ordinary” to downright jaw-dropping.

But let’s focus our attention on something merely “out of the ordinary”—notably, the spike in companies shifting toward cloud-based software.

According to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud report, just 29% of companies considered converting from traditional software to cloud-based SaaS a top-priority for 2019—in 2020, this percentage jumped to 43%.

As more companies transition into the cloud, Gartner predicts spending on SaaS will increase by 10.5% this year.

Considering the shift to at-home working—and the coinciding need for collaboration tools and streamlined workflows—the overall trend towards cloud-based software is not too surprising.

At RFPIO, we understand all too well the need for workflows that actually “flow”. And we’re always on the lookout for new ways to slash inefficiencies—and the signature collecting process got our inefficiency-senses tingling.

Collecting signatures is slowing proposal teams down

Proposal managers often need to gather signatures from executives on certain components of a proposal—such as cover letters, legal documents, disclosures, and NDAs.

Curious about how our customers are collecting these signatures, we conducted a survey with our customers to better understand what mechanisms they are using now to gather these signatures.

The results were eye-opening.

45% of surveyed customers said they export documents from RFPIO, upload them into third-party tools, re-export from those tools, and re-upload into RFPIO.

33% said they store signature files and manually insert them into proposals—a process that is not only cumbersome but also leaves no secure audit trail of who signed what, when, and on behalf of whom.

Finally, 22% of customers said they printed out documents, asked leadership to sign the physical documents, and then scanned the signed documents back onto their computer.

One thing all survey respondents had in common was a desire to streamline this process, so they could focus their time and energy on crafting messages that help their team win more deals.

To streamline the RFP response process, we embedded e-signature into the bid and RFP response workflow

Unlike other e-signature tools you may be familiar with, our e-signature functionality is perfectly tailored to the needs of response management workflows, such as bid and RFP response.

With e-signature, proposal teams can request signatures from anyone they’d like—either inside or outside the organization—directly from the RFPIO platform.

This could mean gathering signatures from executives on certain components of the proposal, such as the executive summary or cover letter. But it could also be used to collect signatures from people outside your organization, on documents like mutual NDAs.

Furthermore, RFPIO’s e-signature functionality has all the necessary permissions in place to track who, what, and when signatures have taken place—and it records all important information in an audit log, that can be exported into an excel document.

However, RFPIO does not and cannot act as a stand-alone e-signature tool. Teams cannot upload single documents for signatures; document signing in RFPIO must be part of an existing project.

How can I incorporate electronic signatures into my bid and RFP response workflow?

For RFPIO customers, e-signature is included as part of your package, regardless of pricing tier. If you’re a current RFPIO customer and would like to learn more about how to get started with e-signature, check out our recent webinar with our Regional VP of Sales, Konnor Martin.

If you’re not a customer but would like to learn more about how RFPIO enables you to embed signatures into your proposal workflow, you can request a demo from our sales team! Make sure to specify that you’d like to see how e-signature works in action.

Scale organizational content with a response management platform

Scale organizational content with a response management platform

How many times have you written repetitive content in the past week? What about the past year? And, how is your content creation process going these days? While we’re at it…what about the rest of your organization?

Marketers are using a response management platform to eliminate repetition in the content creation cycle and improve their content creation process companywide. But these improvements are not solely reserved for RFP responses.

Hear about some of the creative ways marketers are leveraging RFPIO to support and scale content efforts throughout every facet of their organization.

An accurate knowledge base with less SME involvement

You need up-to-date marketing content all the time. Whether you are building out FAQs for your website or creating one-sheets for your sales team, you must have accurate information about specific products or services.

Today you are likely using a mish-mash of content management tools and methods to keep the latest company content within reach. You’re also enlisting the help of your SMEs (subject matter experts) to update and approve content specifics.

SMEs frequently become bottlenecks in the content creation process as their expertise in high demand. They respond to RFPs, RFIs, security questionnaires—and they help team members like you who rely on their expertise day in and day out. The last thing any of your SMEs want to do is slow things down, but that is precisely what happens without an accurate knowledge base.

Jeff Skott is the Manager of Sales Solution Architects at LexisNexis and he is also a subject matter expert. An account manager recently told him, “Thank you so much for getting RFPIO because now I can just look up the answers I used to have to call your team about.”

A response management solution like RFPIO serves as a knowledge base. It makes expertise transferable and accessible, enabling your marketing team to find the right information quickly. All SME-approved content lives in a centralized answer library so you find accurate content without overly involving your subject matter experts.

Marketing Communication Coordinator Hope Henderson said anyone at Alera Group can simply “type in the product name or the question into RFPIO, then pull answers that have been audited by our subject matter experts.” It’s that easy when you and your SMEs use RFPIO as your go-to knowledge base.

Unify your organization with a single source of truth

Content is everywhere in your organization and you are the gatekeeper of every last sentence. You’re involved in the creation and polishing of branded documents across multiple departments. RFPIO’s unlimited user license model means that everyone at your organization has access to a single source of truth.

Soon after onboarding RFPIO, Sharon Ma of Yext used the platform for a multitude of response use cases: RFPs, vendor questionnaires, security questionnaires, and sales proposals. She quickly saw the opportunity to use the response management platform as a single source of truth for her entire organization, far beyond the Global Bid Desk department she managed.

Sales engineers and product managers experienced the same day-to-day challenges Sharon used to have when she manually responded to business queries—spending too much of their valuable time on a neverending search for documents.

Marketing Analyst and RFP Writer, Andrea Kameron, journeyed down a similar path with Reflexis. Andrea leveraged RFPIO to respond to RFPs and for other marketing uses, like creating marketing analyst reports. Her marketing team enjoyed the benefits of efficient content creation, while other departments still needed a solution.

Today Andrea’s enterprise organization uses RFPIO in many departments, from financial services to legal, from administration to customer support. Andrea said, “RFPIO basically touches every single aspect of operations within our company.”

Document automation for lean and agile project management

Continuous improvement, lean, and agile principles have advocated for document automation as a powerful tool for years. RFPIO integrates document automation seamlessly, not just for RFPs but other aspects of enterprise and project management as well.

Delaney Seebold, Business Development Coordinator with Boundless, said that with RFPIO, “our document library is always up to date. We can access the library for RFI answers and find the right verbiage and collateral.”

All of the hard-working individuals at your company don’t need dozens of variations of a document—and neither do you. As a marketer, broken document management processes bring more brand inconsistency than you can handle.

In the Definitive Guide to America’s Most Broken Processes, team members in various departments of the enterprise revealed the following challenges:

  • 49% said they have trouble locating documents
  • 43% have trouble with document approval requests and document sharing
  • 33% struggle with the document versioning

RFPIO’s document library stores the most updated and approved versions of documents in one place. Export functions also help you to format documents to your specific brand guidelines. Every department has what they need, when they need it. Over time, a centralized document library supports lean and agile project management in a way that manual processes can’t.

Your marketing team (and your organization) are ready for a better approach to content management and creation. Schedule a demo of RFPIO to achieve more with a single solution.

Why RFP software is every responder’s solution of choice

Why RFP software is every responder’s solution of choice

Responders like you add tremendous value to your organization’s sales process. Your team’s collective knowledge is what makes RFP responses great…and what helps win deals.

When an RFP is afoot, your response management team likely experiences a mixture of emotions. Some are excited about the big opportunity and others are running for the hills. Everyone understands that collaborative content ultimately helps the organization succeed, but that content takes time to create.

High-performing organizations maximize the time of all their resources by turning to all-in-one technology platforms. RFP software has become the solution of choice for responders. Let’s look under the hood at the ways RFPIO supports your response process and frees up your valuable time.

Clear up your process with centralized RFP responses

43% of subject matter experts said their top challenge was spending too much time on RFP responses. 68% of salespeople struggle with focusing on sales activities. 43% of marketers feel they do not have time for extra projects. 50% of proposal managers said keeping up with response content is their biggest challenge.

Much of this “lost time” feeling with responders is spent chasing down previously answered RFP questions. Your RFP response process should be like a road sign—obvious and direct. RFP response software champions a clear process with its core feature: a centralized library with built-in content automation capabilities.

RFP responses are stored in the answer library, so all responders have quick access. This eliminates Q&A déjà-vu—all responders have to do is answer a question once. From that point forward, draw from previous content with each subsequent RFP and customize as needed.

Since the proposal manager also has quick access to answer library content, they easily fill in responses before assigning questions or sections to subject matter experts. All that’s required of SMEs is a simple “yay” or “nay” approval.

Across departments, everyone saves time when response content is automated, allowing your team to recapture hours spent hunting for RFP responses to focus instead on other high-value work.

RFP language translation assists global teams

Multi-lingual teams need RFP response software that builds bridges across language roadblocks. RFPIO’s language translation capabilities are designed for global teams, allowing your organization to enjoy authentic communication internally and with customers.

Within RFPIO, all you do is:

  • Click on the Q&A pair that needs to be translated.
  • In the “source language” drop-down, select the current language of the Q&A pair.
  • In the “target language” drop-down, select the language you want the Q&A pair to be translated into.
  • Click “translate” after that and you’re all set.
  • Bonus: Save translated content for future use.

Clarification needs are much more challenging when you speak a different language than your proposal management team or your customers and prospects. RFPIO’s translation tool helps your team translate response content into many different languages to improve global communication.

Everyone uses one solution for efficient content creation

Responders at your organization represent a vast ocean of talent. That’s why RFP response software like RFPIO supports an infinite sea of users (aka unlimited user licenses).

To create compelling and accurate RFP responses, multiple responders across the organization must be involved. Having unlimited user licenses means large collaborative teams get involved to efficiently craft the best possible content. Resource needs are divvied up in the response process, protecting resources so contributors never feel overwhelmed by too many RFP responsibilities.

Since everyone is using the same solution, the response process becomes more systematic and protected. For example, if down the road, a proposal manager or SME transitions out of a role or moves on to another job opportunity, a rich answer library is left behind for the rest of the response management team.

Flexible and adaptive to support how you work best

When RFP response software is married to a streamlined process, your team experiences across-the-board efficiencies. Since RFPIO is easy to get off the ground, you can be up and running within a week and see immediate improvements.

Navigate the answer library with ease

RFPIO’s user-friendly tagging and search capabilities allow your team to file away your content to be retrieved later at the drop of a hat. Tag content based on author, topic, language, vertical—or any other tags your team uses to organize the answer library.

Up-to-date knowledge base

Since your content is centralized in the answer library, it’s easy to update RFP responses so your team always finds the most current company information. Pre-scheduled content audit cycles help you stay on top of your content as well.

AI-powered answer recommendations

RFPIO’s recommendation engine is powered by artificial intelligence, automatically delivering the most relevant content in seconds. Automation eliminates the way your response team used to work, repeating content creation unnecessarily. Now key subject matter experts can focus on fact-checking and customization to increase the impact of your response content.

RFPIO is the solution of choice for thousands of responders. See why RFPIO is the best solution for you too.

RFP automation: 14 tasks you can automate with RFPIO

RFP automation: 14 tasks you can automate with RFPIO

Talented people like yourself should spend your brainpower on strategizing, creating, and solving problems. Instead, many of us are spending too much time on tasks that can easily be automated.

As a subject matter expert (SME), your knowledge is forever in demand for your primary job responsibilities and the many other document requests that come from your team—like RFPs, DDQs, sales proposals, and security questionnaires.

You’re doing the best job that you can, but you have an inkling that there is a better way to do that job. If you investigate your RFP response process, two not-so-subtle clues will tell you when it’s time to take action and fix it:

  • Clue #1: You collaborate with proposal managers via back-and-forth emails and in-person meetings.
  • Clue #2: Your response content is lost inside a dark maze of document folders and spreadsheets.

Proposal automation tools are a packaged deal that includes project management and content management capabilities. To fix your response process, you need to automate it.

All the response management tasks you can automate

You may be thinking…doesn’t automation primarily affect low-skill, low-wage roles? Research shows that even the highest-paid occupations have a substantial amount of tasks that can be automated.

It turns out that 45% of the activities individuals perform every day can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies—like, ahem…RFP automation software. This is how RFPIO automates your process to save you precious minutes and hours that add up over time.

1. Receive email notifications for assigned questions.

When it’s time for you to be involved in a new RFP project, RFPIO ships off an automated email as soon as your project manager assigns questions for you to answer. No more guesswork means you know what your involvement is from the beginning.

2. Use the auto-response feature when you respond.

The auto-response feature is a crowd favorite for SMEs. Since content is already on-hand in your answer library, use auto-response to quickly fill in relevant content from past responses.

3. Send notifications when questions are completed.

As soon as you mark a question completed, RFPIO sends an automatic notification to your project manager or a predetermined reviewer. Now you don’t need to send all of those manual updates and your project manager easily tracks your progress.

4. Raise clarifications within the appropriate question or section.

From time to time, you request clarifications from the issuer or your project manager. When the clarifications are received, these requests are imported and automatically reflected within the appropriate question.

5. Collaborate easily with your colleagues.

You don’t always have the answer, but you know a colleague who does. Simply post a comment within a question and the collaborator receives a notification. The collaborator’s response auto-populates right into RFPIO.

6. Collaborate seamlessly with third-party vendors.

All collaborators are welcome inside RFPIO, even when they are third-party vendors. Assign a guest user to collaborate on a question or section. Their response from an email portal automatically syncs within RFPIO.

7. Find content that lives in your answer library.

Where’s the content? Right at your fingertips in a searchable content repository. RFPIO’s recommendation engine searches through the answer library and provides recommended content within the project/question view.

8. Receive notifications to review questions.

Since your expertise is so valuable in the response process, you review content all the time—yet another task you need to automate. As soon as an assigned author finishes their response, you are automatically notified when the content is ready for review.

9. Send notifications when you’re finished reviewing.

After you review the response content, other team members are next in line for review and approval. As soon as you’re finished reviewing, the next reviewer receives an automatic notification. No need to “play telephone” anymore.

10. Keep track of content ownership responsibilities.

Specific content in the answer library will fall under your area of expertise, making you the proud owner of these responses. As soon as a project manager assigns you as an owner, you get an automatic alert.

11. Receive cyclical content audit reminders.

Whether you audit your content monthly, quarterly, or annually, being prompted by an email reminder is much easier than manual reminders. Set up a content audit schedule of your choosing. RFPIO automatically resets the review cycle from that point forward at your chosen schedule.

12. Import new content into the answer library quickly.

When new, updated content surfaces, you need to add it into the answer library quickly so you and your team have immediate access. RFPIO’s import functionality adds new content, with little configuration on your part.

13. Manage duplicates effectively with reporting.

You’re ready to cull your answer library and all you need to do is run the duplicate report. RFPIO automatically manages content duplicates so you clean up your response content with minimal effort.

14. Analyze your content with dynamic reporting.

The answer library report is a dynamic report that allows you to analyze your content. Instead of remembering data or drilling down to look at your data, click on this dynamic report and dive right into your content data. Now you have everything you need to be proactive with responses that fall under your domain.

A lot of the tasks you’re doing today can be handled with RFP automation. Check out how RFPIO automates and revolutionizes your process.

How the right content management system helped a recognition company double their win rate

How the right content management system helped a recognition company double their win rate

When the content manager at a global recognition company was asked about the most important part of a smooth-running RFP response process, they replied, “ensuring the most up-to-date and accurate content is never more than a few clicks away.”

Thanks to their well-organized content library, their response process is now a well-organized machine—but it wasn’t always this way.

Before implementing RFPIO, the proposal team spent the vast majority of their time searching for answers to questions they had already answered dozens of times before. This left minimal time to focus on the part that actually mattered: crafting compelling content tailored to each client’s specific needs.

They knew there had to be a better way. After a comprehensive market scan of RFP software, the team decided on RFPIO to help them catapult their response process to the next level. Since moving forward with RFPIO, they’ve noticed three key improvements to their response process:

Higher quality RFP responses with a content management system that improves over time

Before using RFPIO, one of the RFP writers remembers that “there was this one answer in our library that had a typo. Each time I used that answer in my responses, I would manually correct the typo in the RFP, rather than in the main system.”

Because their previous content library was so difficult to update, it would quickly become obsolete—and writers couldn’t rely on it to find the information they needed.

When the RFP response team first saw RFPIO in action—and saw that updating an answer was simply a matter of clicking ‘edit’, typing, and clicking ‘save’—they knew RFPIO would make a huge difference in their process.

Now, the team has a specialized content manager, who manages the content library with an eagle eye. They carefully moderate each question-and-answer pair before approving it to the library, only approving answers that will create value for the entire team.

As a result, the recognition company’s content management system improves with each RFP they respond to—and they’ve found that when the entire team has access to the best content available, everyone is better off.

“When my team saw that RFPIO automatically suggests answers while you’re responding to an RFP, we were so excited. We weren’t doing anything like that—and we all knew, right away, that RFPIO would make a huge difference.”

Consistent, high-quality answers thanks to a robust content management system

Because their previous content management system was so difficult to update, content stored in the library was often out-of-date and inaccurate—and RFP writers couldn’t rely on it to respond to their RFPs.

Instead, they would put the four most recent RFPs they’d completed on one screen and the current RFP they’re responding to on another. If they couldn’t find the answers they needed in their previous RFPs, they might ask their neighbor. If that didn’t work, they might email an SME.

With this inefficient process, finding an answer to a single question could take days.

Now, the RFP team knows that the content stored in the library is the most accurate and up-to-date content there is.

Furthermore, the team can upload an RFP into RFPIO and respond to it without leaving the software. As they’re responding to each question, the library automatically suggests the most relevant answer.

Easy access to a reliable single source of truth, combined with the AI-enabled search engine and recommendation tool, has empowered the RFP response team to quickly respond to commonly seen questions—giving them more time to focus on what really matters.

Tailoring RFP responses to each client’s specific needs with RFP software

The content manager on the team has a philosophy about RFPs: 80-85% of a given RFP is boilerplate content. The remaining 15-20% is where you really have the freedom to make something new or write something adapted to a client’s specific needs.

But before implementing RFPIO, the RFP response team felt like they were spending most of their time hunting down answers to repeat content—leaving minimal time to focus on compelling win messages.

Because they were spending so much time looking for information, the proposal team often wouldn’t be able to submit each RFP until right before the deadline.

This all changed after they started using RFPIO. In the last year, they submitted RFPs an average of 1-2 days early. Added together, that equaled an extra 114 days for the year—time the team could spend crafting messages tailored to each client or working on other projects.

Over the last year, they also increased the number of projects they worked on by 10 percent—and doubled their premier client win rate (win rate for clients over a certain dollar amount).

RFPIO has empowered the proposal team to knock out the repeat questions and empower their team to do what they do best—craft compelling messages that help their organization win more deals.

“RFPIO has given us more time to craft compelling win messages and work on other projects. In the year after implementing RFPIO, we’ve doubled our premier win rate, while also increasing the number of projects we worked on by 10%.”

Winning more deals with a stress-free response process

One of the writers on the team remembers that it used to feel “like every project we were working on would just be down to the wire.” With RFPIO, the RFP response team is able to approach each RFP with purpose—resulting in more compelling proposals and less stress.

And in the RFP world—defined by tight deadlines and high stakes—a less stressful process can really make all the difference.

Schedule a demo to see how RFP software like RFPIO can remove the stress from your process and help you win more deals.

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