It’s here again, that time when we reflect upon where we’ve been and where we’re going as we set our sights on a brand new year. As the RFPIO team looks back on 2018 and considers how much we’ve grown and what we’ve accomplished, one of our proudest achievements was organizing and hosting our first-ever user conferences, to great success.
We knew it might be ambitious to put together not one, but two, big events in only our second full year. But the RFPIO team doesn’t shy away from a good challenge, and we were itching to spend some time with our customers face-to-face.
RFPIO has clients all over the world that we would have loved to visit, but we decided to start in the United States first. Early in the planning process we surveyed our U.S. customers to gauge interest, and determine the most convenient location. We ended up going coast to coast and held two events, one on October 4 in New York City and the other on October 25 in San Francisco.
It was no small feat putting together a program that would wow our clients and give them more tools for response management. We had breakout sessions for best practices with the platform, held a client-lead panel discussion, a town hall for questions with the executive team, and more. Ultimately, we had three main goals:
- Build community among our users and the RFPIO team
- Provide thought leadership on RFP process and strategy
- Offer product training our users can take back to their teams
Through a mighty effort from the RFPIO team and many enthusiastic and generous customers, we had two very successful days of learning, networking, and having fun.
RFPIO’s Khalees and Ryan S.
Building community among our users was a high-priority goal. Many of the people we work with are lone wolves in their RFP response efforts, so this was a chance to meet other folks who experience what they do every day.
One of our first sessions of the day was a panel discussion with a few selected client representatives. In New York, the discussion leaned heavily toward RFP process. For Susan Stein of ServiceNow, RFPIO has helped her automate the proposal response process, reduce the time that solutions engineers have to spend on projects, and collaborate more easily with other stakeholders. “They call me the great cat herder!” she told the crowd.
Alexei Budsan of Routematch Software said that he’s saved time and believes more strongly in the quality of his RFP responses. “It’s possible to step away and feel good about the content.” That same sentiment came up in San Francisco, as the discussion focused heavily on the power of having a solid and ever-updated content library.
Chances for networking presented themselves throughout the days’ events too, and by the evening festivities, many connections had been formed.
Alexei Budsan (Routematch), Susan Stein (ServiceNow), Elizabeth Duke (Informatica), Josie Fey (RFPIO)
It was important for us to give our guests some outside perspective when it comes to RFP management. We invited two of the industry’s premiere thought leaders to give presentations that would speak to building a strong process and organization, agnostic of any tool or methodology.
In New York, we hosted B.J. Lownie, co-founder of Strategic Proposals and a pioneering consultant in proposal response. His presentation was called, “The Proposal Support Function: From Stepchild to Strategic Partner,” and he gave tips for building confidence in proposal support, and how to communicate that importance to management. B.J. recently joined us to give his presentation again over webinar. You can watch that here.
In San Francisco we were joined by Lisa Rehurek, founder and owner of The RFP Success Company. Lisa’s presentation, “Ninja Tricks to Capture the Evaluator’s Attention,” was about getting into the mind of the person issuing the RFP, and how to reflect that in your content. After our user conference, Lisa invited us on her podcast, The RFP Success Show to talk all things RFPIO.
Gavin O’Donoghue from Cision leading a breakout session
The afternoons were made up mostly of breakout sessions, for customers to get firsthand knowledge from the customer success team on how to use RFPIO to implement the strategies and processes we’d been discussing all morning.
Some of our best attended workshops were about best practices for maintaining a clean answer library, training your team, how to use export templates, and collaborating on projects, among many more.
In New York, we were lucky to have a customer run one of the breakout sessions to talk about his success with implementing RFPIO in an enterprise setting. Gavin O’Donoghue was one of our first power users, as the global RFP manager at Cision, formerly PR Newswire. The organization’s growth since the acquisition presents its own challenges, which is a familiar scenario for many of our enterprise clients, and Gavin was able to offer some unique insight.
“What did you like about the RFPIO User Conference?”
We couldn’t have asked for better turnout, more beautiful weather, or lively and energetic locations for these events. And we definitely couldn’t have done it without the hard work of our marketing, customer success, and executive teams.
In discussions with various clients throughout the day, we heard over and over how much our customer success team has made people feel like they are consistently being heard, and how impressed they were that their product suggestions were often added to the solution―many times just shortly after they’d given their feedback.
The sense of community and connection was incredibly powerful to people, and we are glad to have provided that opportunity. Now, to start planning our next user event. More to come!