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How a 2-person team simultaneously responded to 16 RFPs with proposal software

How a 2-person team simultaneously responded to 16 RFPs with proposal software

When a software company quickly grew its customer base from 0 to 2,000, they knew they needed to start formalizing […]


How a 2-person team simultaneously responded to 16 RFPs with proposal software

How a 2-person team simultaneously responded to 16 RFPs with proposal software

When a software company quickly grew its customer base from 0 to 2,000, they knew they needed to start formalizing internal processes and enhancing data security—which is why they focused their attention on the RFP process.

The cloud-based content management system they had been using to store RFP-related content couldn’t guarantee the security of sensitive information. They needed a solution that both met their security requirements, but also had the features and functionalities to bring their RFP process to the next level. 

It was then that they began their journey to improve data security and revolutionize the way they respond to RFPs. To do this, they turned to RFPIO. 

Uniting knowledge into a universally accessible content management system

Before they implemented RFPIO, the proposal team had been storing their responses in a cloud-based content management system.

While the system was equipped with an import function, it was too cumbersome to use when uploading just a handful of question-answer pairs. Instead, they relied on manual entry to add new content.

Because uploading content into the database was so labor-intensive, they often weren’t able to make time to do it—as soon as they finished an RFP, they’d already be off and running on the next one. Before they knew it, they would have a backlog of RFPs waiting to be uploaded into the system.

With RFPIO, this is no longer the case. The content management system within RFPIO is so easy to update that they’re able to ensure their team always has access to the latest and greatest information.

And the answer library is continuously becoming more robust. When they first implemented RFPIO, they had imported around 2,500 question-answer pairs from their previous content management system. After using RFPIO for just 5 months, their content library nearly doubled—and the entire organization has benefited. Thanks to RFPIO’s unlimited license model, everyone at the organization can access this rich knowledge database at no extra cost. 

“The biggest reason we decided to go with RFPIO was that we could give everyone at our organization access to the tool at no additional cost.”

Assigning tasks and managing RFP projects with proposal automation software

Before RFPIO, the proposal team managed projects using color-coded spreadsheets or documents. Each SME would be responsible for responding to questions in their assigned color. 

This system was manual, tedious, and time-intensive. Not only that, but it increased the potential for human error. “I couldn’t tell you how many times I received a finished document from an SME… only to discover they answered the wrong questions,” someone on the team explained.

Proposal automation software has totally transformed this process. With RFPIO, the proposal team first uploads an RFP in any format (including Word, pdf, and excel) onto the system.

After everything is in the system, questions are assigned to SMEs on the platform itself. SMEs then receive an email listing their assigned questions; they can then log into RFPIO and respond to the questions there, or simply respond to their email, which will automatically populate answers into the platform. 

Once they’ve gathered all the information they need, the proposal team can export the answers back into the source file or into a custom template—and any new question-answer pairs will enter a moderation process to determine whether they should be added to the library.

Responding to 16 RFPs simultaneously with a 2-person team

At the end of Q1, the proposal team received a pile of RFPs that needed to be responded to—16 to be exact. A proposal manager on the team remembered that last year, “we also had a similarly substantial number of RFPs we needed to respond to, but we had to push back.”

This year, with RFPIO, they were able to upload all the RFPs into the system, assign tasks, and collaborate with pre-sales teams located all over the world—including North America, Europe, and Singapore—to successfully submit all 16 RFPs on time.

The proposal manager clarified that the difference with RFPIO is being able to keep track of numerous projects at one time. “When we were responding to 1-2 RFPs at a time, we could keep track of everything via email and Word Docs. But there’s no way we could have responded to 16 RFPs simultaneously using a manual process. You just can’t keep that much information straight in your head.”

“The key area we’re seeing success with RFPIO is being able to handle multiple RFPs at the same time. There’s no way we could respond to so many RFPs at the same time using a manual process.”

2020 proposal software features to prepare you for the year of “access anywhere”

2020 proposal software features to prepare you for the year of “access anywhere”

It’s rare that you hear this, but 2020 was awesome. When it came to implementing new proposal software features in RFPIO, that is. And most of the awesome ideas came from you, our customers! 

Of the 1,855 submissions to our Idea Portal in 2020, we have already implemented almost half (769). Another 66 are planned or under development. 989 are still under consideration or waiting for other feature dependencies. Your feedback is integral to a better performing product. Keep ’em coming!

The following describes some of our favorite proposal software features of 2020. At the end of the article, you’ll see why 2021 is shaping up to be the year of “access anywhere” at RFPIO.

Proposal software features part 1: Project management

Automate Transfer of Intake Team to Project Team

“Intake” creates a staging area for RFP/Proposal requests where they can be evaluated in one place to make a bid/no-bid decision without using active project bandwidth. Now, the team you assign at intake will automatically carry over if the project goes active. No more re-assigning team members!

Automatically transfer intake team to project team, simplifying proposal management

Choose from More Translation Options

  • Translate entire projects or source files on-demand as they’re imported. Previously, this was only available within Answer Library or individual Q&A pairs.
  • Bulk translate content in Answer Library.
  • Retain images and formatting in translated content.
  • Enjoy a better translation review experience to verify translation quality, whether you rely on automated translation or a translation service outside your organization.
  • Try the new translation engine: DeepL now available in addition to AWS, Google, and Microsoft. You can choose your preference.
  • Experience the RFPIO user interface (e.g., menus, modals, etc.) in Chinese, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish.

Gather E-Signatures Without Leaving RFPIO

Instead of exporting or printing out for signing, you can now collect signatures and place signature related fields on documents right from RFPIO! What’s really cool about this is that you can set a sequential signing order, on both the team and the individual level. 

After you’ve collected all your signatures (including guests), all that information flows directly into RFPIO—so you can easily check audit logs for signing activity history, including name of signer, time of activity, location, and type of activity. 

Gather e-signatures right in your proposal software

Import Markup Tracking in Microsoft Word Files 

When you’re importing long and complex proposals in Microsoft Word, RFPIO automatically generates a table of contents, so you can easily navigate up to 5 levels of sections and subsections. 

Also, we know that when you’re confronted with… let’s just call them “creatively styled” RFPs, maintaining the formatting during import can be challenging. This new enhancement makes that process a lot easier.

Easily import tables into your proposal software

Flexible Review Process at the Question or Section Level

With our new enhancements, we’ve strengthened our review functionality… which means you can get even more granular when setting up your review process.

Now, you have three options when setting up review cycles. 

  1. All — Just as it sounds. In order for this question to be marked as “reviewed”, all assigned reviewers need to sign off. 
  2. Any — Let’s say you have a go-to team of reviewers, any of whom you would trust to give the final sign-off on your content. By selecting “any”, if any one of those reviewers signs off on that content, the question is marked “review”
  3. Sequential — Need to get your immediate manager’s sign-off, before sending it up the ladder? No problem. All you have to do is set up sequential reviews, and you’re all set!

Set up advanced review cycles when managing proposals

Proposal software features part 2: Content management

Streamline Content Access Through Linked Companies

If you have reseller partners that need access to your content — or if you’re a parent company of multiple brands that need to access — then the new linked companies functionality is for you. 

It gives you the ability to grant access to your Content Library and specific collections in a completely separate RFPIO instance. That content will also be updated when you update the source file. You can enable (or disable) comments and discussions around specific content between linked companies.

Give different departments or reseller partners access to your RFP content library using the linked companies feature

Access Variable Answers Faster with Linked Content

Linked content allows similar content — variable answers to a single question or translated versions of the same answer — to be linked together and grouped for streamlined searchability and review management. You can even subscribe to specific content in the library to get notified any time there’s a change to that content.

Set 1 Source of Truth with Document Linking

This is something our customers have been asking for a long time. 

Let’s say you’re responding to an RFP, and are asked to  “please provide an example of when you’ve solved problem X.” This is a standard RFP request where you’ll want to use the same document — perhaps a case study — as your answer. 

Now, you can attach documents (e.g. docx, islx, pdf) to question-answer pairs in the Answer Library. And anytime you update the document, it automatically updates the corresponding linked attachment, establishing a single source of truth across the board.

Improve content management for your proposal content with document linking

Access Multiple Versions of a Document

Upload up to 20 versions of the same document. View the different versions of a current document as well as revert to any previous versions, a la Google Docs.

Get Help Choosing SMEs 

The SME recommendation dictionary helps you choose experts and reviewers. RFPIO will auto suggest users when assigning individual questions within a project. Assign topics or keywords to users or groups of users. This is especially helpful for larger organizations with a lot of SMEs from which to choose. It makes it easier to find the right author to own the content. 

Proposal software features part 3: Integrations

Access More Slack Functionality

We made a lot of Slack integration enhancements this year. Collaborators were already able to receive and reply to RFPIO project notifications and tasks within Slack–without having to log in to RFPIO. Now you can also:

  • Add Slack conversation content into the RFPIO Answer Library as new Q&A pairs.
  • Search the RFPIO Answer Library for answers to questions from Slack (this will help increase engagement with users who don’t use RFPIO often but are heavy Slack users).
  • Search questions, answers, and fields such as tags, collections, language, custom fields, and more.
  • Perform combination search using Boolean operators, range search, wildcard, and fuzzy search.
  • Admins can customize the number and type of results shown when others execute a Slack search.

Experience Full-Circle Project Creation and Retrieval in Salesforce

Upload files directly from Salesforce and create a project request in RFPIO. View the status of in-flight projects and retrieve completed response packets back in Salesforce. Auto-publish completed response packets to Salesforce pages. Add team members while creating projects from CRMs such as Hubspot, Pipeline, Pipedrive, MS Dynamics, and Salesforce. If you have any task assignments in your CRM, then this is a great way to add that project team while it’s being created.

Get a Head Start on the Sales Cycle with the Salesforce Proposal Builder

The new Salesforce Proposal Builder allows sales reps working Salesforce opportunities to generate proactive proposals on a self-service basis using all of the dialed-in content and templates you already have in RFPIO. This feature is included in the RFPIO Salesforce integrationGenerate proactive proposals in Salesforce, using content stored in your proposal software

Try the New Google Hangouts Integration

RFPIO for Google Hangouts allows you to receive @mentioned comments as direct messages. Search the Answer Library and view contents with a simple click. 

By integrating proposal software with Google Hangouts, you can receive @mentioned comments as direct messages.

Get Chat Endpoint API Enhancement

For those concerned with compliance, you can now pull all of your RFPIO chat conversation data into whatever 3rd-party location you prefer, from security to archival systems.

Proposal software features part 4: Business intelligence/reporting

Create Custom Reports & Dashboards

Improve how you analyze your data and make informed decisions. New reporting features include charts, tables, grouping, and aggregate functions. The dashboard provides an effective way of organizing reports in a single page with a combination of charts and tables. New improvements include date field calculations, daily/weekly/monthly scheduling, auto-delivery of reports, and more! 

Use proposal software to create custom reports and dashboards

Visualize Data on Your Platform of Choice

If you use Tableau or other data visualization solution, you can now pull RFPIO custom configure paths for metadata between RFPIO and 3rd-party or homegrown reporting tools or BI systems.

2021: Introducing the year of “access anywhere”

If you thought 2020 features were good… wait until you see what we have in store for 2021!

2021 will be the year of “access anywhere”. In short, that means we’re going to be releasing features that makes it easy to work on projects and search for RFPIO content… from wherever you might be. This includes things like offline mode, a new-and-improved RFPIO Lookup, and more!

Contact us to learn more about these new proposal software features, and find out how you can take advantage of them.

Why you need a growth mindset and more time to learn

Why you need a growth mindset and more time to learn

Whether your purview is proposals, products, relationships, or processes, business life cycles continue to accelerate at a breakneck pace. It’s extremely exciting. Heightened levels of technology, innovation and disruption create new markets and revenue opportunities seemingly out of nowhere. Alas, in all of our hustle and bustle to keep up, it’s all too easy to sideline time for personal growth. Unfortunately, if we continue to do so, we risk losing what makes us all so valuable as workers, executives and entrepreneurs: ourselves. 

According to a survey conducted by Professor Boris Groysberg of Harvard Business School, many executives estimate that 20% of their skills become obsolete annually. That estimate is twice what it was ten years ago. Thanks a lot, technology. And email. And meetings. And Zoom. And ends of quarters. And my underlings. And my overlings. And my family. And Hugo (my dog). Work and life consume time faster than we think. Sometimes our drive to succeed can cause us to forget to pull over for gas. We need to make time for rest… and growth.

You grow some. You learn some.

I first heard of two types of mindsets by reading psychologist Carol Dweck. Permit me to oversimplify by saying that a fixed mindset is afraid of making mistakes, which results in shying away from challenges and new experiences. A growth mindset embraces mistakes and failure as the gateway to learning and discovery. It makes learning, not perfection, the goal. 

Take the microsite of a marketing campaign, for example. A fixed mindset wants to build the site with X amount of pages, Y functionality, and Z videos, graphics, and interactivity. Until the site checks every item on the XYZ list–which was likely composed by disparate stakeholders concerned only with how their product is presented–then developers will continue to try to hit an unrealistic target. This binary thinking that seeks black and white answers in a grey world hampers growth, sabotages innovation, and stifles creativity.

A growth mindset goes live with an MVP: minimum viable product. Get the basic design up and running, then let marketing do its work. Analyze heat maps. See where people are clicking and where they’re getting stuck. Dig into site visits and behavior to find areas to optimize. Let sales work its magic. Invite customers to give their input. Keep what works. Rejigger what doesn’t, or rethink whether you need it at all. Build and learn and you’ll find that the website looks and performs much different than the original XYZ design. It also provides flexibility to solve those disparity challenges that submarined the fixed mindset XYZ approach.

Be afraid of fear

Step one: eliminate fear. Failure is nothing to be afraid of. Ask Michael Jordan. He said, “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

A great place to start is by asking why. Pause and ask questions before making a decision. Before leaping to a “yes/no,” “good/bad,” or “right/wrong” answer, seek more information. Ask why a lot. Why were decisions made? Why did we lose? Why did we win? Why are we at this juncture? Why is this relevant now? Why am I still giving you examples of “why” questions? (Just checking to see if you’re still reading.)

Your ultimate goal is to be eager to fail because that’s an opportunity to learn. To get there, you only need one thing: time. Not as easy as it sounds.

Time management is a huge part of inhabiting the growth mindset. Build time in your schedule for learning. If you can’t do it every day, then do it every week. Make sure every direct report does the same. Learning time is too easy to sacrifice. No, it’s not client facing. No, it’s not problem solving. No, it’s not filling out your TPS reports. It’s more important than all of those because of math (everything always boils down to math). If 20% of skills become obsolete every year, then in five years without learning, what skills are left? Failure doesn’t sound so scary now, right? 

You cannot squeeze creativity out of people. Creativity needs space. Virtual environments can be tough because we’re cramming more into the day and not taking the time to walk with colleagues for coffee or lunch or…walks. You need rest and breathing space built into the day and its deadlines. 

Fear’s gone. Now what?

Feed the mindset. If learning and growth are not encouraged, then they might as well be prohibited. Every organization needs to set its own growth mindset parameters. For some, it may involve formal accreditation and advancement. “We’ll pay for you to get your MBA so you can become a VP.” In others, it may involve encouragement by leadership to add DNB (do not block) into your schedule. Find conferences, courses, podcasts, and whatever and block off time to do it. Don’t do yourself the disservice of multi-tasking while doing it.

At RFPIO, we take the growth mindset to heart. RFPIO is a place to manage company knowledge, after all. Why not manage your growth mindset knowledge on it? It’s a place where you can learn about the company, the story, the product, the mission, and the solutions. It breaks down silos between individuals, teams, and departments, by democratizing knowledge across organizations—making it easy to sharpen your skills and expand your knowledge.

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to keep growing, then I also recommend joining our user conference this year. It’s January 27-28. It’s virtual. It’s your chance to Realize Imagine Scale Expand and Unlock Potential (RISE UP). And it’s going to be fantastic.

Unlocking your team’s potential is affording them the freedom to learn and fail. If we don’t fail, then we’re not trying hard enough. It takes trust and acceptance in learning. There’s more than one way to do things. Identify where you’re going and educate yourself how to get there. Most importantly, make time for what matters most. 

Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes it’s family. Sometimes it’s peace. Right now it’s Hugo. Time for a walk.

How to clean up your RFP answer library with a 3-step content audit

How to clean up your RFP answer library with a 3-step content audit

Hello, 2021! A new year means a fresh calendar, a new set of New Year’s Resolutions to break, and, of course, re-learning how to write the date. And, I don’t know about you, but this year I’ll be scratching out “2020” with particular relish.

Saying good-bye to 2020 also means putting your disorganized, cluttered content library behind you. It’s time to show your RFP content who’s boss. And, yes, a healthy content library does more than just keep you sane. It also streamlines your RFP response process. Note that I say “RFP”, but I really mean any kind of complex questionnaire… RFIs, Security Questionnaires, DDQs, VSAs, you name it.

If you’re already working with RFP automation software like RFPIO, a healthy answer library means answering 70-80% of your RFP with one click (hello, Auto Respond!).

Even if you haven’t upgraded to RFP automation software yet, refreshing your content library means you can bring relevant content to your fingertips and respond to a vast majority of RFP questions at the drop of a hat.

The good news is that an RFP content audit isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds. Read on to learn how to conduct your content audit in just three steps—and kick 2021 off with your fastest RFP response yet.

RFP content audit step 1: Complete an ROT analysis

ROT stands for “Redundant, Outdated, and Trivial”. A smooth-running live RFP answer library only contains the most recent, relevant, and accurate information. That means your job is moving redundant, outdated, and trivial content into an archived folder.

Redundant Content: Duplicate and/or similar content. If you’re using RFPIO, run a duplicate report on questions and answers, and click on “View Similar Content” to find comparable responses.

Outdated Content: Expired or sunset content. Isolate any content not used in the last year (let’s call that “expired content”) using the Advanced Search function in RFPIO. Then, identify content from products, services, and solutions that are no longer relevant (we can call that “sunset content”) using tags and/or product names.

Trivial Content: Deal- or client-specific content. Identity trivial content by searching for specific client names.A step-by-step guide to completing a content audit in RFPIO

RFP Content Audit Step 2: Move content out of your active RFP answer library

Once you do your analysis, you’ll want to move that content out of your active RFP answer library.

You have two options:

Option 1: Delete it (scary)

Only delete content that you’re sure you’ll never, ever need again. There’s no turning back from deleted content.

Option 2: Warehouse it (less scary, and my preferred method)

Isolate your content and store it in an RFPIO Archived collection. If you’re not using RFPIO, make sure warehoused content is stored in its own location so it doesn’t get confused with your live content.

You can still access warehoused content. You’re still able to bring it into a live project, update it, and push it back into the active RFP answer library. If you ever find out you need a piece of content that you’ve archived, you don’t have to start with a blank page.

RFP Content Audit Step 3: Set up owners and review cycles

All content in your RFP answer library should have an assigned owner. The content owner should be the Subject Matter Expert (SME) who is responsible for the accuracy of the answer.

You should also add a moderator, who is responsible for giving the final “white glove” review. The moderator should apply editorial standards to each answer that comes through, ensuring everything that is pushed to the live RFP answer library is polished.

How often should you conduct a review cycle?

Well… that depends on the content.

For corporate content, I recommend conducting a review cycle every 90 days. Corporate content refers to any content relating to the company as a whole, like number of employees, revenue, mission statements, etc.

For product content, conduct a review cycle every 6-12 months, or anytime a product release occurs. Product content refers to anything related to specific product features or functionalities that change over time.

As far as evergreen content… you might be surprised to learn it isn’t quite as evergreen as you would imagine. Evergreen content is the core content you use to complete most of your RFPs, and you should still review it once every 12-24 months.How often should you conduct a review cycle? It depends on the content.

A healthy RFP answer library creates benefits across your entire organization

As you’d expect, a healthy RFP answer library enables your proposal team to quickly complete RFP responses—answer 70-80% of a proposal with a quick click using “Auto Respond”.

When you can automatically respond to those commonly-seen questions, that means that your team has more time to focus on tailoring each response to your customers’ specific needs.

A healthy RFP answer library also makes life easier for your SMEs—as I explained in a previous blog, the number one rule of working with SMEs is respecting their time.

When you keep your answer library impeccably clean, your SMEs don’t need to verify content outside of scheduled review cycles. They’ll have more time to focus on their other job functions, and you’ll have an answer library full of the most accurate, up-to-date content. Everybody wins

You may think that auditing your RFP content is just a luxury of enterprise companies. I’m here to tell you that anyone and everyone can (and should) regularly audit their content, regardless of whether your team has one person, or 100.

If you’re working with a one- or two-person team, follow the steps above to keep your content fresh. Make sure your SMEs understand which content they’re responsible for, and get in the habit of updating content at the appropriate time.

If you’re a larger team, hire a dedicated content manager whose sole focus is keeping your RFP answer library healthy.

Show your RFP content (and your RFP response process) who’s in charge

You have the tools to complete a successful RFP content audit. It’s time to put your newfound skills to the test!

If you get stuck along the way, check out my webinar below. I’ve demonstrated my step-by-step process for conducting a content audit in RFPIO.

For those of you not using RFPIO to automate your RFP response process, but want to learn more, schedule a demo! Someone on our team would be more than happy to show you the ins and outs of the platform, and see if RFPIO makes sense for your process.

Here’s how RFPIO celebrated the holiday season, 2020 style

Here’s how RFPIO celebrated the holiday season, 2020 style

This year’s holiday party was a little different than usual. For one thing, I spent the entire time sitting alone in my living room, staring at my computer. For another, I showed up in leggings.

And yet, it was a roaring success. Even though we couldn’t have our holiday party in person this year, it was still a hit, receiving accolades from employees like, “super fun holiday party!!!!” and “BEST. PARTY. EVER.”

After kicking off the festivities with a few words from our fearless leaders, we hopped right into the fun stuff.

We started by breaking into three separate activity tracks: painting, cocktail making, and virtual escape room-ing. Then we reconvened for some holiday trivia and a special performance from our in-house rapper (Kendall—you’re a star).

Keep reading to see what we did to keep that feeling of togetherness alive, despite not actually being physically together.

Holiday Activity 1: Sip & Paint

After breaking off of the main group, about a third of the company poured themselves a glass of wine, pulled out their paintbrushes, paint, and canvases, and got to work on their masterpieces.

An artist entertainer from Bottle and Bottega gave everyone live remote instructions on how to paint their landscapes, and in just about 45 minutes everyone had finished—and wow-ed the rest of us with their artistic ability.

Holiday Activity 2: Cocktail Making Class

 

We invited Portland Whiskey Guardian Hannah Scollo to lead the team through a cocktail making class via Zoom! Everyone had the opportunity to make three different cocktails—The Lion’s Tail Classic, the RFPIO Holiday Lion’s Tail, and Angel’s Rye Daiquiri. If you’re interested in trying these out on your own, here are the recipes!

Lion’s Tail Classic
2 ounces bourbon
4 dashes Angostura bitters
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce allspice dram
Shake, strain, serve!

RFPIO Holiday Lion’s Tail
2oz Angels’ Envy bourbon
.25 angostura bitters
.5 Clear Creek Cranberry liqueur
.5 lime juice
.75 2:1 Turbinado sugar to water syrup
5 drops vanilla bean saline solution (10g hot water to 1g vanilla sea salt)
Shake, strain, serve!

Angels’ Rye Daiquiri
2oz Angel’s Envy Rye
.75 Raw sugar syrup
1 oz lime juice
Shake, strain, serve!

For more Angel’s Envy whiskey fun, follow Hannah on Instagram @pdxwhiskeyguardian. Cheers!

Holiday Activity 3: Virtual Escape Room

We worked with Green Hat People to set up a virtual escape room for the rest of the team.

The premise: A hacker has locked your company files. Can you unlock them in 45 minutes? But the hackers are not motivated by cash, their agenda is more philosophical. If you and your team can prove your worth, they might relent!

Luckily, all four of our escape room teams managed to prove their worth and won the files back from the hackers.

Holiday Activity 4: Holiday Trivia

After everyone finished their activities and reconvened in the main room (those who had attended the cocktail class were a bit giddier than usual), and we proceeded to the next activity. We used sli.do to facilitate our 30-question holiday trivia activity.

We asked questions like, “What year did Santa Claus first appear in a Coca-Cola ad” (1931) and “Do Americans buy more fake Christmas trees or real Christmas trees” (fake—a big disappointment to those of us based out of Oregon).

Holiday Activity 5: #RandomActsOfKindness

Last but not least, we wrapped up the holiday season with some giving.

First, we donated $25 for each person who attended our cocktail-making class, equalling a $675 donation to a family in need through the Christmas Family Adoption Foundation.

But we decided that wasn’t quite enough… so we decided to also raise money for charity through an employee-driven #RandomActsOfKindness initiative.

Employees posted their #RandomActOfKindness in our internal Slack channel; for each act, RFPIO donated $10 to charity—adding momentum to the movement.

RFPIO employees got very creative with their kindness, doing things from donating food to the food pantry, giving plants to neighbors, donating to charity, and handing out food and other supplies to the homeless.

Through this initiative, we’ve raised an additional $100 for charity, splitting the proceeds between the Christmas Family Adoption Foundation and GlobalGiving’s initiative to Transform Outcomes for Children in India.

And that’s a wrap!

I may be biased, but this was easily one of the best holiday parties I’ve ever been to. We definitely couldn’t have done it without our party organizing extraordinaires, Bonnie McDougal and Kelsey McFarlane.

But we also couldn’t have done it without such a great team. I think I speak for everyone when I say I’m grateful to work alongside so many supportive, helpful, kind, and hilarious people, who both take their work seriously… and also like to hang out and have fun.

With that, the team at RFPIO wishes all of you a wonderful holiday season and smooth slide into the new year.

P.S. If cocktail making and virtual escape rooms sound like your cup of tea, we’re hiring!

Top blogs from 2020: Best practices for RFP response & content management

Top blogs from 2020: Best practices for RFP response & content management

It’s that time of year again… Time to snuggle into our houses, turn on the fire, buy eggnog, vow to never buy eggnog again, and reflect on the year we’re leaving behind. And, me oh my, what a year this was.

Rather than dwelling on everything we missed, the blog crew here at RFPIO decided to focus on what we’ve learned, and how to apply these lessons to the future.

In 2020, our blog posts were viewed nearly 150,000 times… a 50% increase from the same time period in 2019, when we recorded just over 100,000 views on our posts.

From those 150,000 views, we learned a lot about you, our readers.

First of all… you love content about content. 30% of our top blogs for the year are directly related to content management.

Piggy-backing off of that, you love learning, growing, and improving. 80% of this year’s top blogs offer strategies and best practices for upleveling skills, streamlining processes, and improving collaboration.

Finally, you are careful readers. The average read time for some of our blogs is upwards of six minutes (industry average for blogs is 2-3 minutes).

With that, thanks to all of you for sticking with us throughout the strangest year in my living memory. So, without further ado, let’s kick off our 10 most popular blogs from 2020!

3 RFP content management tips to help you dominate

What exactly does good content management look like in the RFP world? It’s a trifecta of resources, data, and process.

Good RFP content management means preparing the best version of your content alongside your internal process to accelerate success. RFP responses are groomed in such a way that the content is compelling and fresh.

But the ultimate result of good RFP content management? Winning new business. The trick is to continually improve internal processes. That starts with investigating the RFP content management efforts you have in place today.

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What a response management platform can do for your revenue team

First question — what even is a response management platform? And how is it different from RFP software?

Basically, it’s cloud-based software that helps revenue teams respond to queries from clients and prospects with maximum efficiency. When teams centralize content and facilitate collaboration, they experience higher levels of productivity and results.

In this blog, we talk about the potential of a response management platform like RFPIO, and give you the tools you need to approach response management more strategically.

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Why you need the ultimate library for your RFP responses

Because various content contributors must band together to create quality responses, this content must be centralized and accessible. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

In reality, response content tends to be scattered across spreadsheets, Google Drive folders, or perhaps a content management system.

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

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Orchestrate better RFPs with the best proposal team structure

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

Proposal team structure may look different for your organization than someone else’s. You could have three people or 30 on your team, but the goal is the same… simple, efficient, and effective collaboration.

In this blog, we discuss strategies for orchestrating better RFP responses by harmonizing your proposal team structure.

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How to convince your boss you need RFP software now

The first question will be, “Why do we need it?”

Tell your boss, “Because we can’t afford to gamble our relationships, and our contacts cannot afford to gamble on us.”

In this blog, we crack open this fortune cookie and unpack its meaning—and give you the tools you need to close the RFP software deal with your boss.

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RFP response best practices for up-to-date and impactful content

An RFP is so much more than a sales pitch—it’s an important opportunity to tell your organization’s story.

A quality RFP response tells that story with accurate, cohesive, engaging detail that demonstrates your competitive differentiators. But if your content is scattered, unorganized, or unpolished, telling this story raises unnecessary complications.

The first step to creating this story is quick, easy access to high-quality RFP content. Check out this blog to learn best practices for keeping your content up-to-date and impactful.

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How intelligent RFP search saves valuable time for salespeople

An easy way to understand search capabilities within a solution like RFPIO is to think about the way you use Google to find information. The majority of Google searches involve a simple phrase or question.

But, did you know there are handy search commands you can use to find information even faster?

In this blog, we lay out all ways RFP responders like yourself can use search operators to better optimize your searches.

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Elevate the RFP process in your asset management organization

In asset management, the RFP process is critical to winning new business. The prospect directly references your RFP document during the sales conversation. You must convey your organization in the most professional, appealing manner possible.

If you’re looking for ways to empower your team, stand out in a competitive industry, and win more deals, this blog is for you.

Click in to learn how RFP software manages your RFP process from beginning to end—transforming RFP process management into a well-orchestrated strategy.

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Robust proposal automation software integrations for sales

You want one thing: To achieve your sales goals. But there are many steps between “wanting to achieve” and “actually achieving”. Effectively responding to RFPs is one of those steps.

Your team generates revenue when you win RFPs. Yet, responding to RFPs involves a substantial time commitment from sales, adding fuel to the fire for the 68% of salespeople who struggle with managing their time to focus on sales-related activities.

In this blog, we dig deep into proposal automation software integrations so you know which benefits to expect.

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How to improve RFP response time management long-term

The average professional works a mere three minutes before changing tasks.

As a key player with multiple roles to fill, how can manage your time better, while also leading your organization to long-term success?

In the blog, we dive into this topic and offer solutions—everything from improving content management and collaboration to finding opportunities for automation.

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Now that you’ve read our top blogs from 2020…

It’s time to get started on 2021 planning. For RFP responders, it looks like 2021 will be a year to optimize content management and enhance efficiency.

While you’re at it, let us know if there’s something you’d like to see for 2021! We are always trying to make our blog better and better, so if there’s anything we’re missing, we’re all ears.

Send us an email at: social@rfpio.com.

How TeamDynamix managed an increase in RFP volume with proposal automation software

How TeamDynamix managed an increase in RFP volume with proposal automation software

TeamDynamix is a cloud-based IT Service Management and Project Portfolio Management platform that helps organizations improve efficiency around how IT teams handle service incidents, change management, and project planning.

While their customers span a broad spectrum of sectors, there has been an increase in demand within state and local government, which has in turn caused RFP volume to triple over the past three years.

Public-facing RFPs tend to come with a high level of competition as the bidding process is open, so it is critical that each response is complete, follows any specified guidelines, and stands above the others. It is not unusual for more than 30 companies to respond to a single public-sector RFP. In order to meet this demand, TeamDynamix needed to scale their RFP team.

Scaling up to meet RFP demand

“When I first joined TeamDynamix, RFP volume was increasing rapidly,” explains Erica Schneider, RFP Manager. “We needed a way to not only handle the increase in RFPs while ensuring consistency and accuracy, but also reduce turnaround times. We started to look at various RFP platforms to help us manage these challenges.

Erica recognized that the two main issues—scalability and inefficiency—could easily be solved with the right software. It was just a matter of finding a solution that would grow along with their team.

When you’re looking for the right RFP software, you need to keep an open mind 

Erica has been in the proposal industry for nearly 20 years and has worked with almost every RFP software in the market. Her approach to the evaluation process was to create a set of requirements, then systematically review each solution.

When evaluating different vendors, Erica wanted to make sure the platform they chose wasn’t just something her team could use, but something they wanted to use—and simple enough so that anyone could use it with minimal training. 

From the ease-of-use and administration standpoint, RFPIO was the clear winner. Whenever her team needs help on an RFP question, the SMEs can answer it directly from their email, without logging into the application. “We’ve gotten so much positive feedback from the SMEs about how easy RFPIO is to use”, Erica added. 

The biggest impact TeamDynamix has seen with RFP software is maintaining response consistency while scaling

When asked why consistency is important for RFPs, Erica responded, “one of the worst things for RFP issuers is they can tell an RFP was written by multiple authors.”

With RFPIO, they’re able to ensure that each response tells a coherent story, from beginning to end—and that their responses are consistent, regardless of which organization is asking the question. 

The RFPIO Answer Library is the main reason they can create such consistent responses. As RFPIO Super Admin, Erica has full control over what is stored in the Answer Library and can copy-edit everything that goes in there—ensuring all 1,600 question-answer pairs in the TeamDynamix library are accurate and consistent.

Their commitment to crafting consistent responses has paid off. Since they’ve started using RFPIO to respond to RFPs, “we get so much positive feedback on our RFPs”, Erica said. “Things like, ‘This is the best RFP I’ve ever seen’ or ‘We were really impressed with your RFP’. It’s so rare to get positive feedback—which is really a testament to our ability to deliver a consistent result.”

With RFPIO, TeamDynamix can respond to more RFPs in less time

“Over the past few years, we have tripled our RFP volume and increased the size of the RFP team as well,” Erica said. “Our goal is to finalize each response ahead of schedule so that we can do a full review — including peer reviews and with the sales team before submission. With RFPIO, we have reduced turnaround time by around 40%. By reducing the turnaround time by such a significant percentage, we can spend more time being consultative and strategic”

“We very much view our responses as a core differentiator. We closely track our down-selection rates, and are tracking twice as high as best practice benchmarks,” explains Erica.

Now that Erica has streamlined the response process at TeamDynamix, she’s focusing her attention on finding new ways to use RFPIO at her organization. Specifically, she’s making sure everyone who is client-facing can use the RFPIO Answer Library as a resource for finding company information and answering any client questions.

It helps that RFPIO is so easy to use. “It takes about 10-30 minutes to train the client-facing teams on how to search for information in RFPIO,” Erica explained.

“I’m excited for the future of RFPIO at TeamDynamix. RFPIO has so many features that I know there are more ways we can be using the tool”, Erica went on. “I can’t wait to see what else we can do with it.”

Are you ready to take your response process to the next level?

Is RFPIO right for your team? Schedule a customized demo with our sales team to see how RFP software could transform your process.

9 of the best RFP resources we’ve seen this year

9 of the best RFP resources we’ve seen this year

At RFPIO, it’s our goal to give you all the tools you need to do your best work. But that doesn’t just mean developing software to streamline the response process… it also means providing educational resources that make you a better proposal manager.

We’re always surprised at how tricky it is to find fantastic RFP response resources. There are countless how-to articles circling the internet for everything under the sun — from “How to Cook Asparagus” to “How to High Five” (I couldn’t believe that last one was a real article, either).

With that in mind, we thought we’d do the heavy lifting of scouring the internet for great content and pull together a beautifully curated list of quality resources about RFP response 

Whether you’re just kicking off your career in RFP response, or are an RFP response old-timer, there’s bound to be something in this list that tickles your fancy.

9 of the best RFP response resources for proposal teams

#1

The Ultimate Guide to RFPs

By Jami Oettig

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide to RFPs on a list of RFP response resources. It answers questions like, “What is an RFP”, “What is an RFP Process?”, and “What’s the difference between an RFP and RFQ”? 

Whether you have no idea what an RFP is, or haven’t written one for a while, their guide can help you out.

#2

Simple Words, Easy Fixes

Laura Yribia

I love this list of simple but easy-to-miss editing issues to look for before producing a final proposal document! Be sure to keep this open in your browser as you do the final check of your RFP.

“These words may seem small or insignificant, but when your readers see them again and again in a proposal, they can make an enormous difference in their willingness to read.”

#3

How Starting Earlier Will Improve Your Win Rate

Ashley Kayes, CP APMP

If you want to improve your overall win rates, Ashley Kayes has several tactics that can help you succeed. Check out this article to dive into one of the most important tactics: starting earlier. 

“There simply isn’t enough time to develop a winning strategy and winning proposal when you’re short on time.”

#4

The Case for Empathetic Proposals 

Kevin Switaj

If you’re someone who already knows you’re way around an RFP response, check out this article for a different perspective on how you should be approaching your writing.

“To be truly successful… we need to make a deeper emotional connection with our evaluators. This goes beyond the client-centered approach to develop empathetic proposals.”

#5 

If Necessity is the Mother of Invention, Consistency is the Father of Success

Tony Birch

In this article, Tony Birch — founder and Chairman of Shipley Limited in the UK — shares tips and best practices for maintaining consistency in your RFP responses. starts this article with a punch: 

“Having worked with a large number of organizations (both ones that are successful and ones that are not), I have become convinced that consistency is one of the key attributes of successful business writing organizations.”

#6

How to Get a Customer Excited

Geoffrey James

While not this article doesn’t talk about RFP responses specifically, it’s chock full of nuggets of wisdom useful for anyone trying to sell a product.

“For a sales claim to be effective, the customer must believe it, remember it, and want to take action based on it.”

#7

Make Your Mark as a New Proposal Manager

Miriam Ganem-Rosem

Just starting out in the world of RFP Response? This article is for you. In it, Miriam shares five actionable tips new proposal managers can use to make their mark.

My favorite tip? Ask good questions. 

“The questions you pose to your team can strengthen their proposal and make it more likely to win. In addition to checking for compliance, you should be asking ‘so what?’ and ‘says who?’ New proposal managers are perfectly placed to play devil’s advocate and ask these questions, because they themselves may not know the answers.”

#8 

Five Tips for Clearer Writing

Ashely Kayes, CP APMP

As a writer myself, I loved this piece. Full of great tips (and reminders) about how to be a better writer. Everyone — both veterans and newbies — has something to learn from this one. 

“In proposals, clear writing is critical to ensuring the evaluators understand the message you are trying to communicate. Even if you have the most valuable solution, if you can’t clearly articulate the features and benefits, you won’t have a high chance of winning.”

#9

A Complete Guide to Making Smart Bid/No-Bid Decisions

Emily Arnold, CF APMP

The title doesn’t lie. This really is a comprehensive guide for making smart bid/no-bid decisions — and an excellent resource for RFP responders everywhere.

“The proposal development process draws heavily on a company’s resources, so it is best to focus on opportunities that you have a good chance of winning.”

Did we miss an RFP resource from 2020? Let us know and we’ll add it to the list! 

Say hello to the new RFPIO

Say hello to the new RFPIO

Five years ago, a good friend of mine told me about an idea. He and a few friends were going to build a better way to respond to RFPs, and asked me for marketing help. Over a cup of coffee, we started to work on his company’s initial marketing strategy. That friend was Ganesh Shankar, and that idea was RFPIO Inc.

Although I had a gut-feeling that RFPIO was going to go far, even I couldn’t have imagined that RFPIO would not only become the industry-leading solution for RFP response, but would pioneer an entirely new category of response management. 

Teams are still using RFPIO to respond to RFPs, but they’re also responding to RFIs, DDQs, Security Questionnaires, Bids, and Tenders. They’re using it to create Statements of Work, proactive proposals, and grant applications. They’re using it to look up information during sales calls, respond to support tickets, and manage content.

RFPIO has evolved. And our identity has evolved with it.

“RFPIO has grown and evolved far beyond our expectations. Our new look pays tribute to who we’ve become, without forgetting who we’ve always been.” Ganesh Shankar, CEO and Co-Founder of RFPIO

But it’s still us. We’re still RFPIO. We’ve just turned the page in our story. But before we get to that, we’d like to reflect on what got us here — and explore what the future holds.

Chapter 1: A Better Response Starts Here

We’ve always known there was a better way to respond to RFPs. That’s where our story began: A solution for responders, by responders. That first-hand experience is what continues to drive us to make the platform better and better. 

After launching the first AI-enabled solution to RFP response, the market responded almost immediately. At that point in time, the vast majority of companies were creating proposals from scratch, storing on hard drives, and collaborating across various platforms. Nothing was in one place.

For RFPIO’s early customers, our software became that place. Implementation was easy. Customers were reporting efficiency and ROI that seemed too good to be true. Sometimes we still pinch ourselves to make sure this isn’t all a dream.

Shortly thereafter, RFP Software was recognized as a category by industry analytics and customer review sites, accelerating our growth and enabling us to help more companies adopt a better way to respond.

Chapter 2: Growing by listening and learning

Our growth is grounded in what our users need. While we were once responders ourselves, we looked beyond our own experiences and actively listened to our customers. Their suggestions, feedback, and guidance play a pivotal role in our product design and development. We are proud to say that over 90% of customer feedback has been implemented or is in development. 

As a result, we’ve defined and redefined what is possible for RFP Software. Today we offer the most advanced and user-friendly solution available, and we are the only RFP software with a patented import process, e-signature capabilities, and both ISO-27001 and SOC2 certification.

At the same time, we leaned into our community and our customers’ needs and requests to create an ecosystem, offering more integrations with third-party applications than anyone in our space. 

As of today, we’ve welcomed over 1,000 customers to the RFPIO family. With over 150,000 users worldwide, RFPIO is the leading RFP software and every day we are still learning and still listening for opportunities to improve the experience for our customers.

The next chapter: Creating the future of response management, together

This segment of sales technology is at the very beginning of its digital transformation and we have only scratched the surface of what is possible. 

What started as a software for the RFP response process, has since grown beyond what we imagined it could be. Once a point solution, RFPIO has become the go-to place to find answers to any and all questions. 

But this is only the beginning. We’re poised to expand the world of response and excited about what the future holds for response management—our new logo, visual identity, and messaging is just the start of our next chapter. 

To our customers: Thank you for believing in us. For supporting us. For growing with us. 

To our employees: Thank you for trusting us, and for all your hard work that has made us who we are today.

And to the future: Bring it on. We’re ready to seize the opportunities that lay ahead—and excited for what’s to come. At RFPIO, the future is bright!

How small proposal teams can provide enterprise-level support to sales

How small proposal teams can provide enterprise-level support to sales

Few people know this, but the working title for “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens was actually “A Tale of Two Teams.” The opening line was supposed to be: “It was the best of times (with RFPIO), it was the worst of times (without RFPIO), it was the age of wisdom (for sales teams supported by RFPIO-powered proposal teams)…” and so on. Alas, Dickens’ publisher suggested changing from “Teams” to “Cities” at the last minute. True story.

What I believe to be Dickens’ original intent was to point out that there’s a huge disconnect between what the optimal proposal team structure should be and the reality of resources available. The idea of having a team of dedicated capture specialists, writers, and SMEs that exist to support proposals is more myth than reality.

If you’re a proposal team of one or two—or none if proposal responsibilities fall under a duty bullet point in your sales or marketing leadership job description—then how can you do more with less?

More specifically, how can you support sales as if you had a roster full of star proposal free agents responsible for RFP capture, contract management, proposal production and management, subject matter expertise, pricing, and writing?

In “A Tale of Two Teams,” your team without RFPIO spends time:

  • Chasing down subject matter experts (SMEs) for responses
  • Badgering with constant reminders
  • Manually segmenting large RFP documents
  • Searching for previous content
  • Gathering RFP requirements
  • Tracking down supporting documentation

Your small team with RFPIO spends time:

  • Aligning with sales and marketing on positioning
  • Improving formatting and design templates
  • Developing persuasive language
  • Defining strategy
  • Gathering more information and context on clients, products, and previous conversations
  • Building graphics and visual aids
  • Personalizing messaging
  • Managing content

With RFPIO, your team focuses on developing more effective proposals while sales spends more time on revenue-generating activities. Using the features described below, I’ve worked with small proposal teams that can answer at least 40% of a proposal with auto-response capabilities, gain back 20% more time overall, and deliver proposals 1.4 days ahead of deadline, on average.

Set up your project dashboard immediately

When an RFP takes flight, you don’t want it flying blind into a fog bank with no instrument rating. Visualize early-stage projects with Analytics for better resource planning and forecasting. Light up your dashboard with insight into:

  • How many sections are there?
  • How many questions need answers?
  • How many authors will you need?
  • Answers to questions like these help make a project feel “real.” You can get a toehold and see what progress is going to look like.

Make an initial pass at the questions using a combination of auto-response and intelligent search. Then go back and refine content. Leave questions marked as unanswered so sales or SMEs can review and confirm, but start tracking sections you’ve started. Even if the proposal team is not running the show—because we all know that sales is—you can gain a sense of control by using the Analytics that RFPIO provides.

Keep the answer library fresh

I’ve said it before and I will probably never stop not-saying it, there’s never any real great time to organize content because we are all always busy. But to ensure that auto-responding and intelligent search zero in on only the most relevant targets, library management is a must. We don’t have a dedicated manager, so we lean heavily on Tags.

As you work on projects, start importing content. Start standardizing it, adding tags, and defining owners as it’s imported. We have a standard set of tags—we block users from adding tags to try to limit tag sprawl—that we use to classify content as it’s imported for each project. This makes it easier for me when I’m wearing my library manager hat to update content when I have the time (I aim for once a week). We also use Collections and Custom Fields capabilities to help with library management.

Let the system be your cat-herding ranch hand

I use the phrase “herding cats” too often, but it’s a shared feeling among proposal managers. System-generated notifications help with cat herding because you don’t have to be the one cracking the whip all the time. Let the system chase them down. In RFPIO, system-generated notifications chase sales, SMEs, or whomever down automatically without me having to do anything.

Often, the reason content hasn’t been submitted or reviewed is because the owner simply forgot to click the blue “Submit” button. In other words, they might not even know that they’re still on the hook for the content because they believe they already submitted it! System reminders from a non-judgmental AI help preserve my relationships with colleagues. I don’t want them thinking that they sent content and I lost it, doubling up their work. This way, the system says that if it’s not in RFPIO, then it didn’t happen!

@-mentions improve #collaboration

RFPIO isn’t social media, but it does incorporate a standard social media feature to streamline collaboration: @-mentions. @-mentions allow SMEs, sales, and senior management to be notified via their communication platform of choice (e.g., email, Slack, Microsoft Teams) and then reply in-line without having to log into RFPIO, saving time and making it more likely that you’ll get an answer.

This is especially valuable when you need input from multiple contributors. With @-mentions, you keep the conversation going without constantly having to reset for each contributor. The challenge here is to get non-RFP team members to use @-mention. They can be slow to adopt.

I love flags!

Color-coded flagging may sound simple, but it’s one of my favorite features of RFPIO. I customize flags to help visualize strategic content. They help us quickly identify key things that need to happen for an RFP, and then make it easier to navigate those items across sections. Perhaps the best part is that there’s a lot of satisfaction in watching those flags disappear as items are completed. One step closer to project completion!

4 ways small proposal teams can support sales

  1. Make a habit of getting every RFP/Security Questionnaire/RFI into RFPIO immediately (light up that dashboard!).
  2. Assign a team member to be the “first-pass” SME before assigning outside authors and reviewers (utilize auto-response and intelligent search).
  3. Assign an owner to each piece of content and enable regular reviews. The more you can organize at the outset, the less time you have to spend squeezing an SME for details on major changes to a new product you just learned about before they go on vacation.
  4. Dedicate someone (maybe it’s you, lucky!) who engages with sales and SMEs on a regular basis. The consistency will help build relationships and trust with go-to collaborators. Proper care and feeding of SMEs will keep your projects running smoothly.

Add more value to sales and the organization as a whole

RFPIO has converted our organization from reactive to proactive when it comes to sales support and RFP responses. A short anecdote…

During a week in which we had three RFPs in-flight, one of which was a three-day turnaround, two sales management team members and our two-member proposal team were able to spend an hour on the phone to discuss some critical changes to the way we wanted to communicate our overall organizational capabilities based on trends we were seeing in the marketplace. There is no way that conversation would have happened if we hadn’t already been ahead of schedule thanks to RFPIO.

If empowering your proposal team to do more with less is a priority, then check out my webinar below for more details on how we use RFPIO. Ready to add some girth to your small team with RFPIO? Schedule a demo today!

Expand sales intelligence and personalize sales documents with RFP automation software

Expand sales intelligence and personalize sales documents with RFP automation software

When customers start using RFPIO’s RFP automation capabilities, most of them quickly expand response management to their overall sales intelligence program. They enable sales teams to generate personalized sales documents and proposals on a self-service basis. With easy access to a robust content library, sales representatives can (relatively) easily piece together pre-approved, pre-vetted content to create proactive selling documents.

In the spirit of transparency, we happened upon these added benefits somewhat by accident. We actually learned about them from our first enterprise customers, who had thousands of projects running in RFPIO. Upon evaluation of all the content they had accumulated in their Answer Libraries, they asked a seemingly simple question: With all this great content in RFPIO, how else can we use it?

Ever since, we’ve been fine-tuning features so that RFP automation software adds more value to the greater sales intelligence program for customers of all sizes.

How your sales representatives respond matters. For more conversions at higher price points, they need to respond quickly, with a personalized touch, and they need to do it efficiently so they spend more time on revenue-generating activities.

According to Forrester, there are three key elements to sales intelligence.

  1. Operational Intelligence: “What is happening and what has happened.” In other words, these are the KPIs that guide day-to-day activities (e.g., number of calls, proposals delivered, pipeline-to-quota coverage ratios, average deal size, etc.).
  2. Diagnostic Intelligence: Analyze the KPIs established in operational intelligence to gain a meaningful view of data and identify trends that may determine future performance.
  3. Interpretive Sales Intelligence: Use operational and diagnostic intelligence to guide and support revenue generation throughout the organization, from optimizing responses to prospects and customers to structuring compensation plans.

Based on this definition, RFP automation software can have a significant impact on sales intelligence. Here’s why.

Without data, nothing is driving your sales intelligence

Sales intelligence is all about identifying buyer signals and nailing the timing. Sounds simple, right? It’s not. Depending on your product or service and your market, the amount of analysis that goes into signal identification could range from hours to months, or even years.

Sales is like the rest of the intelligences that are all the rage right now. Artificial, business, military… you name it, if it’s intelligent, then it depends on data. Similarly, sales intelligence relies heavily on data collection, management, and insight.

Your CRM is the central nervous system of your sales intelligence. Let me throw some borrowed knowledge at you (source).

  • CRM is among the top three tools and technologies for creating personalized interactions with customers to foster loyalty and better marketing ROI. (Salesforce, 2017)
  • 73% of marketers with a CRM system use it for a shared customer view between their service and sales teams. (Salesforce, 2017)
  • High performers are happier with the level of collaboration between their marketing team and other departments and they’re also three times more likely than underperformers to extensively use CRM tools. (Salesforce, 2017)

Much of the client, opportunity, and product data that can be leveraged to personalize proposals already exists in CRMs. By integrating RFPIO and CRMs like Salesforce, sales reps can now generate personalized selling materials without leaving their CRM. RFPIO can link CRM data from client, industry, job title, product information, and opportunity fields to dynamic proposal templates that allow sales reps to hyper-efficiently generate proactive proposals.

A real-world use case is:

  1. Sales rep Alpha finishes their first phone call with a prospect. They enter what they’ve learned about the prospect, such as product interests or points of contact. These fields will be used to swap out the dynamic templates when the proposal is generated.
  2. The prospect has asked Alpha to send a solutions brochure to learn more about Alpha’s company and solutions. The sales rep will click on “create proposal” to get started.
  3. Alpha navigates their CRM (e.g., Salesforce) interface to select “Create Proposal in RFPIO” from a list of available document templates (NOTE: You’ll need to set up the document templates ahead of time, but once you do so, it’s just a matter of plug-and-play content!).
  4. Alpha completes the proposal builder without leaving the CRM to add content relevant to this particular prospect and include personalization variables. These can include contact fields such as name and title, relevant quotes and testimonials from companies in their industry, the specific solutions and prices that the prospect needs, implementation team, timeline, etc.
  5. Alpha clicks the “Generate” button.
  6. Voila! Alpha has a personalized, on-demand proposal to share, which will be much more effective than a boilerplate email or generic brochure. The generated proposal is then automatically published to the Salesforce page from which it was created. Now, it’s ready for the sales rep to download or share as needed.

Sales intelligence with RFP software integrated into your CRM enables more informed selling, allowing you to take advantage of the personas you’ve been developing and the hard-fought information you’ve been gathering on your prospects and customers.

5 sales intelligence advantages of RFP automation software

Let’s say you’ve integrated RFP software into your CRM. What benefits can you expect?

  1. Keep sales reps focused on selling: Are your salespeople spending less than 36% of their time selling? Sales VPs and directors want reps living in the CRM, focused on revenue-generating activities. By providing access to RFP content and automating its generation from the CRM, reps spend less time chasing down content or composing proposals.
  2. Gain leverage from content analytics: Track the content that’s being consumed, by whom, and how it’s being shared. Identify the most common and popular content to help inform future content development. Analyze trending queries, both internally and externally.
  3. Strengthen your account-based selling strategy: Make it easier for your sales team to collaborate on developing multiple contacts and relationships within a single account. Content analytics helps you track the buying signals throughout different levels of your most complex accounts.
  4. Personalize every response: With the data stored in your CRM combined with the high-quality content stored in RFPIO, proposal managers, marketing teams, or sales teams can create pre-approved content blocks that sales teams can piece together to create proactive selling documents. What would it mean to your team to send professional, personalized proposals with every response?
  5. Take a big lift off of proposal and marketing teams: No more one-off requests for content or proposal support from sales reps because they’ll be able to do it themselves. For example, Microsoft estimates that its RFPIO Answer Library saves up to 5,000 hours per year.

A rising tide lifts all boats

Advanced sales intelligence will also contribute to greater success with RFP responses. For proposal managers, customer data points from the CRM will help automate the completion of a proposal and inform bid decisions.

Natural language processing and analytics will help decipher what kinds of questions will be asked in an RFP. RFPIO can estimate what type of proposal to expect, compare it to past RFP responses from similar client profiles, and analyze how you performed in the past to determine your likelihood of success and how long it will take to complete. The proposal manager can also estimate resources and identify contributors that will need to be allocated in order to win the RFP and determine if it’s worth it to the organization to proceed.

What’s it gonna take?

We’ll need to connect the systems, so there is some administrative setup. However, we’ve already synced up with multiple CRMs, so we know what to expect.

Schedule a demo today, and we can discuss whether it makes sense for you to integrate your CRM with RFPIO RFP automation software.

You need RFP software. Here’s how to convince your boss.

You need RFP software. Here’s how to convince your boss.

The first question will be, “Why do we need it?”

Tell your boss, “Because we can’t afford to gamble our relationships, and our contacts cannot afford to gamble on us.”

Now let’s crack open this fortune cookie and unpack its meaning.

In sales, relationships are everything. Many companies won’t even respond to an RFP if they don’t have relationships established with the RFP-issuing group. Sales professionals protect these relationships like they’re hoards of treasure. Much time and effort is put into cultivating them.

However, the art of the deal has changed over the many years I’ve been in the proposal game. The deal that used to be made via handshake with a high-powered decision-maker now has to be vetted by multiple stakeholders. A single decision-maker won’t gamble their career on selecting a vendor anymore—no matter how strong a relationship exists.

In a highly competitive RFP, multiple prospective vendors will have strong relationships within the RFP-issuing organization. You as a sales organization don’t want to gamble your hard-earned relationship by underperforming at the proposal stage and losing the deal.

In the modern sales landscape, your relationships plus a high-quality proposal will give you the best chance to win the deal. RFP software helps you create proposals that eliminate your contacts’ need to “gamble.”

Now that you’ve explained why you need RFP software, answer these three questions to close the RFP software deal with your boss:

  1. Which of our corporate initiatives does this investment support?
  2. What is the ROI and over what time period?
  3. Why do it now?

Build on these 4 initiatives

Find a way to align RFP software to a stated business imperative. Anything relating to revenue or margin impact is good thing, like the following:

Proposal value isn’t always obvious to an organization’s stakeholders. Aligning it with your business imperatives makes it harder for stakeholders to ignore the fact that response management is an essential cog in your sales lifecycle.

Cut to the chase: ROI in less than 2 months*

One of our more impressive recent data points is that Crownpeak saw a 5-6x ROI after using RFPIO for just a few months. If your bosses hang their hats on ROI, then don’t hold back. Calculate your ROI here to include an estimate in your pitch to your bosses.

Efficiency is going to be your primary ROI metric. With RFPIO, organizations increase response management efficiency by 40%, on average. Broken down by role, we are currently seeing the following:

  • 63% of salespeople said RFPIO enables them to automate their process, so they can make time to pursue new business with RFPs.
  • 71% of marketers said RFPIO helps them centralize company content for easy access.
  • Subject Matter Experts (SME) gained back 39% of their daily hours with RFPIO.

RFPIO doubles as a knowledge management tool, which will increase proposal production for sales and reduce the burden on SMEs from legal, IT, security, procurement, contracts and other departments that typically contribute to responses. It’s a cost-effective method to give everyone at your organization access to your answer library, while also empowering your proposal team to do more.

*On average, based on verified customer reviews collected on G2.

ROI calculator

See How Much You Can Save With RFPIO

Why do we need RFP software now?

For you, it’s about leveling the playing field. Harking back to my earlier reference of an RFP where five proposals are delivered and three of them likely have relationships with the RFP issuer…In this case, at least one of the vendors that responds will be using RFP software. They will have completed up to 70% of the RFP using automated features, which means they can put 100% effort on the remaining 30%. How likely are you to win any race when you give your competitors a 70% head start? (Flipside bonus you’ll want to call out to your bosses: On the off chance that you’re the only one using RFP software, then you will have a 70% head start!)

For your bosses, it’s about showing accountability to their commitment to success. If sales is the lifeblood of your business, then a fine-tuned RFP process will be as valuable as a multifunctional CRM, an integrated marketing strategy, a highly responsive customer service system, or any other support system that is already included in your budget.

But are proposals really that important?

YES!

The most common pushback you may need to address is that a proposal is just one part of a complex and lengthy sales process. That is true, and the best proposal in the world will not win you the deal on the spot. But a poor proposal will likely cause doubt in the issuer’s mind. At best, this will extend the sales cycle. At worst, you lose the deal.

A good proposal provides the opportunity to encapsulate everything you have learned during the sales process. RFP issuers never say they’re hemorrhaging clients or cash or taking a beating from their competitors, even though you understand that’s probably why they’re issuing the RFP.

The proposal is your opportunity to document how well you understand the issuer’s underlying needs or pains. You can do it passively (“We help with client retention by…” or “We’ve helped X clients increase revenue by X%…” or “3 out of 4 industry leaders rely on us to….”), but stating your solution to an unspoken problem validates your expertise. Ultimately, that’s exactly why they should choose to work with you.

And the only way to communicate that information to all stakeholders involved in the decision is through your response to the RFP.

Ready your pitch for RFP software

Twenty years ago, I expected RFPs to go the way of the dodo. Because of the Internet, you see. I thought that any generic information an issuer would need about a company could be found on the Internet. I was wrong. RFPs didn’t go away.

The way companies select vendors based on RFP responses is what changed. Out went the single decision maker, in came the decision by committee. The proposal management market is booming ($3.1B by 2024) and RFPIO has more than 1,000 customers only three years after signing its first.

RFPs have grown in complexity and require more customized responses. Part of a response is cookie cutter (another reason you need response management software), but the part of the response that requires more customization to explain your value—the part that shows you an issuer wants to deal rather than just kick the tires—is the part that you need to spend the most time on.

If you see any variation of this question, then you know the issuer is serious and in need of innovation: “What can your company offer that others cannot?

Want help prepping your RFP software pitch to your boss? We can help. Schedule a demo to get started.

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