Your brand is your business. It’s how you grab attention and distinguish your company from the competition. Which is why brand consistency is so key in RFP response management.
Hope Henderson is the Marketing Communications Coordinator at Alera Group, “an independent, national insurance and financial services firm created through the merger of like-minded, high performing entrepreneurial firms across the United States.” Their mission is to provide their clients with national resources and local service.
Since forming in 2017, Alera Group has grown to include over 75 firms across the country. However, the RFP response process is maintained through the corporate marketing team.
As Alera Group added new companies, the RFP response process began to take up more and more resources. Hope went looking for a solution that would alleviate some of the burden on the marketing team and streamline some of their challenges: sharing content and enabling collaboration across brands, while still letting the individual brands maintain their identity.
After coming upon a blog about RFP automation, a concept she was not familiar with before, Hope reached out to the company behind that guidance—RFPIO.
Content Effort Prior to RFP Automation
Hope and her team were spending a lot of time and effort on RFPs, cobbling together content from past documents, emailing back and forth, and scrambling to format them into beautifully branded submissions. “Basically they were Frankenstein RFPs.”
It was difficult to brand each RFP for the corresponding company. “Much of the content can be shared across our firms, but they each have a distinct identity. We wanted every RFP to reflect those distinctive brands,” Hope said.
And, as is often lamented, it was hard to communicate in a simple way, which frustrated the stakeholders. “So I started doing some independent research on ways that we could improve that process and came across an article from RFPIO on RFP automation and what it entails.” She scheduled a demo with the RFPIO team and was impressed with the platform.
“We looked at a competitor but their solution didn’t have the full functionality that RFPIO had. I think we’d all made up our minds from the start.”
RFPIO Brings Brand Consistency in a Team Environment
What really sold Hope and her team at Alera Group was RFPIO’s customizable export templates, a unique offering in the space.
“RFPIO gives people the ability to easily find shared content, tailor it to their specific firm offerings and then export it in a format that adheres to their company’s brand guidelines,” Hope said. “They can also use the Alera Group branding if they’re going after a bigger client for example. It really opens up a lot of possibilities.”
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Alera Group has firms throughout the United States. With RFPIO, they are able to collaborate within the parent company and among the subsidiary firms in a unified platform.
“Through the system, we can make comments and chat, which eliminates a lot of communication breakdown. As we all know, emails can get lost and once documents are on their 20th version it just becomes unmanageable. So, the ability to collaborate in a single spot is really helpful for our team as we continue to grow.”
RFPIO’s content repository, called the answer library, gives Alera Group a centralized place for content that they can categorize by firms, owners, and line-of-business, etc.
“The answer library has become a portal for all of our latest and greatest content, that anyone who is client-facing can use, even if it’s not for an RFP.”
RFP Automation Exponentially Increases Opportunity
Hope says their process for responding to RFPs has been streamlined and they can share ideas and thought leadership while also letting each brand put their best foot forward.
“We’ve had a 20-hour turnaround for some RFPs, or even less. In fact, I can think of one that we received in the morning and sent it out by that afternoon. Before RFPIO, each RFP would take at least two or three weeks to complete, and through the library, we are able to control for consistency and quality.”
The number of RFPs they can respond to has increased exponentially as well.
“One of our firms has gone from submitting 10 RFPs last year to submitting 10 RFPs already in the first quarter of this year, and they’re looking to grow that number,” Hope said.
Alera Group is committed to making it easy for new users to get trained up on using RFPIO. Adopting new tools can be challenging, so they schedule quarterly internal webinars to train new collaborators on how to use RFP automation and give them a chance to ask questions in real-time.
“RFP automation has been invaluable to our process for answering RFPs, it’s strengthened the quality of the finished documents, and has created insane efficiency measures for firms throughout our company.”