John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic when we’re talking about RFP responding, but the logic applies.
We sometimes hear that RFPs get a bad rap. The process of responding to them can take people out of their normal workday and use up precious time, and they aren’t guaranteed to deliver.
Except—bear with me here—isn’t any chance to gain business a risk of your time and efforts? And shouldn’t calculated risk-taking be a part of your strategy? If you consider the amount of potential revenue left on the table when you don’t prioritize those opportunities, it should be.
RFPs, RFIs, RFQs, security questionnaires—any document for potential new business—are sales enablement tools, pieces of quality marketing content, and revenue generators, too. They just don’t always get the credit they deserve.
Matt Heinz is the founder of Heinz Marketing and an expert on bridging the B2B sales and marketing funnels. We sat down with Matt to talk about how RFPs are an integral part of marketing and sales strategies, and a risk worth taking.
RFPIO: We’ve seen the use of MarTech improve transparency and ROI in marketing and sales. How do you think that applies to RFP response software?
Matt: An RFP is a ready-made, qualified opportunity. There are a couple challenges that come along with them, though. People can get frustrated about the amount of time they take to complete, and the conversion rate seems unpredictable.
Those challenges are ripe for process improvement through technology when it comes to the quality, consistency, and efficiency of RFP responding. By addressing those areas, you should ultimately see a higher win rate and an improved ROI moving forward.
RFPIO: How does RFP response software fit into the MarTech landscape as a whole?
Matt: It’s a critical part of your technology stack if you are engaging with RFPs. If marketing plays a role in your RFP response process—and they should—then it behooves your organization to use a solution for improving that process.
RFPIO: Do you think automating the response process would help with marketing spend?
Matt: Absolutely. It can be difficult to figure out the best way to respond to proposals manually. But if you’re able to automate and streamline the process, and focus on content, it could be very lucrative and the technology cost pays for itself.
“With RFPs, there’s a higher overall conversion per engagement percentage, versus just managing from leads to closed deals.” – Matt Heinz
RFPIO: What is the funnel impact of RFP responses?
Matt: There’s a huge benefit in bypassing the lead part of the funnel—which itself involves a lot of resources and strategy. You’ve got the cost of seeking out prospects and then doing the work to qualify them. With RFPs, there’s a higher overall conversion per engagement percentage, versus just managing from leads to closed deals.
Many companies have goals for the number of leads they must acquire to convert into a specific amount of qualified opportunities that will then become closed deals. We often see about one and a quarter percent of marketing-generated leads that ultimately convert into closed deals.
Even if you’re seeing a ten percent conversion of RFPs, depending on the cost that goes into creating those, it could be a far more efficient funnel than traditional outbound/inbound demand generation.
RFPIO: How can marketing and sales departments contribute to a successful proposal response process?
Matt: Marketing can help with content creation. RFPs generally ask for a comprehensive overview of capabilities, and why a company would be the best option for them. That is a great opportunity to build your narrative. Sales may answer some questions and facilitate the submission of the RFP, but it really benefits most companies to have marketing integrally involved in creating relevant content for RFPs.
It’s also helpful to develop a process for responding to RFPs, and that starts by assigning roles to people. Sales can be the facilitators, and marketing executes on crafting responses.
“An RFP is a ready-made, qualified opportunity.” -Matt Heinz
RFPIO: Many RFP responders work after hours to complete responses by deadline. How can marketing teams help prioritize the RFP response process?
Matt: If RFPs are a consistent, predictable source of your sales pipeline, then that should mitigate the requirement of generating leads and opportunities through marketing.
Additionally, if you can reduce the cost and time associated with RFPs through automation, that might actually solve the problem on its own.
RFPIO: What advice do you have on gaining adoption?
Matt: Let people know why! Companies will buy new technology and train people on how to use it, but they don’t tell them why it’s important to the business.
You also want to make sure everyone understands how it integrates with your other technologies, and with your other online and offline processes.
Know that whatever you roll out is likely to adapt over time as people actually start to use it within your unique environment and culture. Make sure you’re managing those adjustments, reinforcing the behavior you want, and evaluating the solution based on the success metrics and objectives you had to start with.
RFPIO: Anything you’d like to add?
Matt: Just a reminder that you shouldn’t be afraid to approach past opportunities anew. Maybe RFPs weren’t a priority in your sales strategy before. But with response automation, it may be the competitive advantage you need to win more of those deals.
President, Heinz Marketing Inc.
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.
Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty. He has helped organizations such as Amazon, Seagate, Morgan Stanley, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many others create predictable, repeatable sales & marketing engines to fuel growth.
Matt is a repeat winner of Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management and Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers. He is living through the renovation of a 105 year old historic farmhouse in Kirkland, Washington with his wife, Beth, three young children, dog, two rabbits, and seven chickens.