Whether it’s RFPIO or another RFP automation solution, the reason your company initially invests is to accelerate your RFP process. Sarah Ellerman, leader of proposal teams at Salesforce and an RFPIO customer, put it this way: “It’s kind of like in The Walking Dead, [RFPs] just keep coming. You can easily take care of each one. On The Walking Dead, they’re like, ‘OK, I’ll grab that one,’ and ‘OK, I got this one,’ but you start to get in trouble when there’s more and more and more. That’s the stage we were at when we knew that we needed an RFP automation tool.”
After you accelerate your RFP process, what will you do with all of your time dividends? Did Apple hit a trillion-dollar valuation by cashing out every year and implementing a 20-hour work week? Not if Apple Park is any indication.
If you want to disrupt like Apple, then you need to reinvest like Apple. As it pertains to your RFP process, reinvest time dividends to realize long-term growth in content quality, workflow efficiency, and proposal team job satisfaction, and do more than just fend off RFPs.
According to Ellerman, by reinvesting time saved using RFP automation software, you can expect the following outcomes:
- Better Deliverables: Finish more RFPs with better-quality content. Proposals can include images, up-to-date contact, all new products and services, and can be output as a beautiful package that will get you up-leveled to win the deal.
- Engaged Employees: By spending more time on training proposal team employees and subject matter experts (SMEs) on RFP best practices and products, you’ll have happier teams working in a collaborative environment.
- Data-Driven Decisions: When decisions can be made based on data instead of hunches, it leads to more credibility with leaders, especially when an uptick in RFP success coincides with the onboarding of your RFP automation software.
And how should you go about disrupting your RFP program? In this article, you’ll learn how to:
- Invest in Content
- Enrich with Context
- Elevate your People
Invest in content: Use automation to advance your content management system
Curate Content: Continually add and edit content to make it as relevant as possible. Make it pretty. Add images, bullets, and attachments to make it look as professional and polished as possible.
Optimize for Automation: Address proposal team fears that software will be taking over their roles (it’s not; their expertise, credibility and consultative skills will always be necessary). Also clarify with leaders that robots are not in charge of RFPs. Success is still team driven. RFP automation software helps you complete more RFPs more accurately, but it’s not an AI infiltrator.
Also, the proposal team and management need to understand that automation takes time. The software will need help to learn. For example, different RFPs will ask the same question in many different ways. As part of the workflow, team members need to recognize that an answer already exists for a question if it’s being asked with different verbiage. Take the step to add the new verbiage to the Answer Library (essentially clicking two or three buttons) to help the system learn and enrich search functionality.
Speak Your Customer’s Languages: With legacy approaches to RFP responses, teams may have relied on siloed systems (aka, multiple Excel docs or tabs) to translate RFP responses from English into other languages. Lots of problems here. Content in other languages may not be as up to date. Increased globalization sees many more companies in need of multilingual capabilities. International proposal teams may feel overlooked if the content in their language is out of date and requires more time and effort than their English-language counterparts. RFPIO has multilingual capabilities so that updating content in one language actually updates it in every language.
Enrich with context: Integrate your RFP process with your existing tech stack
Examine Your Integrations: Whether you use Google Drive, Salesforce, Slack, or other tools that you want integrated with your RFPIO solution, set it up at implementation. RFPIO already has integrations set up with many of these tools. It’s just a matter of customizing it for you.
Explore the APIs: RFPIO offers custom integrations with your projects and answer library. With RFPIO’s Project API, you can connect your project data to a BI tool such as Tableau and execute even more complex reporting than you may have been able to do with your CRM integration. Our Answer Library API allows you to hook it up to a homegrown CSM system or other software. APIs are yet another option to embed RFPIO into your existing systems so convincingly that both your responses and your team’s engagement with the process will be enriched.
Reinvent/Reimagine Metrics: Time isn’t the only metric you can use to determine success, but it’s a primary driver for most companies investing in RFP software. Tracking how much time each contributor spends on an RFP is a key metric to resource allocation. Without RFP automation software, you have to rely on manual reporting. Not that people purposely misrepresent how much time they spend on a proposal, but with everyone multitasking, stepping away for meetings, or contributing to multiple responses, manual reporting results in under- or over-reporting hours spent. RFPIO automates time tracking so you can eliminate any manual bias and have a single source of truth when it comes to resource allocation.
Elevate your people: Make collaboration as easy as possible
Build a Culture of Collaboration: How do you find the happy medium between abandoning a team member to work alone and forcing every team member to be exposed to every issue? According to Ellerman, her teams at Salesforce had the most success in RFPIO when they “buddied up.” These smaller teams are able to help each other through challenges, create a standard of accountability, and work faster than solo practitioners or large teams.
Refresh Your Team’s Mission Statement: With RFPIO on board, your old mission statement of, “We save the company time by answering questionnaires,” will be out of date. Set up a team lunch to discuss all that your team does for the company post-RFPIO implementation, including everything from communication to efficiency to increasing revenue. A team with a bigger mission will feel compelled to make a greater contribution to the company.
Redefine Team Personas: Not everyone is an “answerer” anymore. Content will need to be updated. Training and enablement will need to be expanded. Give team members an opportunity to deepen and specialize. While everyone may be involved in answering an RFP, primary roles may change to focus on content or training or leadership. Examine what the organization needs and what employees want to do, then identify how to mesh the two together with new capabilities afforded by RFPIO. Everyone will be happier with a job persona that fits.
Scaling: How can you unleash RFPIO on your organization? Get more people involved than just RFP staff. Salespeople and engineers who start recognizing the benefits of RFPIO will want to get involved to accelerate business development or strengthen content being used for answers.
Certifications: Certifications command respect. Start with APMP Certification, offering the world’s first, best and only industry-recognized certification program for professionals working in a bid and proposal environment. With this level of recognition and expertise, your RFP team can be unstoppable!
Do more with less with RFP software
Whether you’re dealing with a headcount freeze, budgetary constraints, or leaders who want results faster than ever, RFPIO will help you do more with less. How will you reinvest the proceeds of a fine-tuned RFP process?