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Why Business Units are best for visibility and control

Why Business Units are best for visibility and control

If you’ve attended an RFPIO webinar or conference recently—or read the Freedom to Thrive white paper—then you’ve heard us mention […]

Category: Tag: RFP Automation

Why Business Units are best for visibility and control

Why Business Units are best for visibility and control

If you’ve attended an RFPIO webinar or conference recently—or read the Freedom to Thrive white paper—then you’ve heard us mention RFPIO’s ability to break down silos. If you’re an RFPIO customer, then hopefully you’re already living the silo-flattening dream.

Through knowledge management in the Answer Library and Document Library, in-app collaboration and project management tools, and real-time accessibility by way of RFPIO® LookUp to all of this content, silos can be reduced to rubble. Greater efficiency and productivity ensue, correlating quickly to improved response quality and increased win rates.

Nevertheless, sometimes separation is a good thing. Whether it’s for security or compliance purposes, or even perhaps geographic locations, there are RFPIO customers who want greater control and visibility. For this, we have Business Units.

“RFPIO’s enterprise-level capabilities enable multiple business units, including partners, to collaborate on a single platform. It also reduces communication channels during the proposal development process.”
-Page Snider, Director of Business Program Management, Microsoft Consulting Services What are Business Units?

Business Units (BUs) allow you to create distinct operating units within a single RFPIO instance. Think of them like individual villages within a kingdom. These BUs give you the control in keeping people, projects, and content confined to a specific BU, but also allow you to share any of those across your instance to another BU. User profiles remain unchanged as they’re shared with each Business Unit. Additionally, advanced features are available to provide cross-unit functionality across your entire enterprise.

While Collections pertain to simply restricting content, and complete separate RFPIO instances provide no collaboration between people on projects and content, Business Units can provide a level of control and collaboration to fit any growing enterprise business.

When should you use Business Units?

Software business units are quite common in enterprises, but they’re growing in popularity with small- and mid-sized businesses, too. Prior to the pandemic, it was standard operating procedure for sales teams to work remotely while marketing, InfoSec, and customer support worked onsite. With the trend toward hybrid and fully remote work for all teams, content accessibility and control—as well as visibility into how it’s used (or not used)—has rocketed up the priority list for many companies.

For businesses of any size, there are 3 typical use cases for Business Units.

Use case #1: Separate cost centers or business groups

Business Units are most often separated by business group (Marketing, Sales, etc.) or region (EMEA, NAM, LATAM, etc.).

Business unit - cost center

Many RFPIO customers start with two Business Units, separating InfoSec content from all other content that responders will be sharing with prospects, customers, analysts, or investors.

Regional separation would mean your organization wants a Business Unit for each GEO where business is conducted. Factors such as language and compliance weigh heavily into the determination to split an RFPIO instance into Business Units according to GEO boundaries.

business units - GEO

Use case #2: Mergers

The mergers and acquisitions trend in 2021 was off the charts, and it doesn’t appear to be letting up in 2022. According to Wolters Kluwer, the U.S. saw a record $2.9 trillion in transactions (up 55% from $1.9 trillion in 2020). As RFPIO grows in popularity (250K users and counting…) and response management gains traction as an integral part of the sales tech stack, it’s more and more likely that mergers will take place between businesses that are each running their own RFPIO instances.

When a merger occurs with two businesses that both use RFPIO, it’s certainly an option to maintain the two separate instances. However, if you want more control and visibility, then you can convert one instance into the primary instance and then add the team or teams from the other company as a Business Unit.

Use case #3: Projects portion control

Depending on how your business operates and is structured, separate teams may need different numbers of active projects enabled in RFPIO. Whereas you have a set number of active projects in a single RFPIO instance—50, for example—without Business Units it’s a free-for-all for teams to use those projects. If you find that one or two teams are constantly clamoring for additional active projects, then Business Units can help set aside a suitable amount of active projects for those teams.

Let’s take the example of a single RFPIO instance with 50 active projects. In the case of a software business, sales and InfoSec may need more active projects than marketing and customer support. Business Units can allocate projects to meet each department’s needs: 15 for sales, 15 for InfoSec, 10 for marketing, and 10 for customer support.

business units project allocation

What are the benefits of Business Units?

Primarily, project control and content visibility, which result in additional benefits, including:

  • Ability to scale RFPIO across multiple departments to increase win probability and close deals faster.
  • Rolled-up reporting allows for the most comprehensive visibility available for your RFPIO instance.
  • Identify areas that may need more project management support (we see this a lot in InfoSec).
  • Allow for greater content detail and answer accuracy, and, ultimately, a more robust content repository (which pays off when you need to share content across multiple Business Units).
  • Better, granular visibility into projects, people, and content in each Business Unit but still administered within a single RFPIO instance.

Cross-Business-Unit collaboration is something that we’ve seen more as use cases for BUs have evolved. For example, projects can be shared across Business Units. Say you’re running an InfoSec Business Unit project and you notice that some of the questions may be mapped to brand messaging, which would better be handled by someone in marketing. Share that project to the marketing Business Unit to 1) delegate to a suitable subject matter expert, and 2) ensure that you’re delivering the best possible response. There are some user permissions at play, but it’s certainly possible.

Here’s a real-world benefit example from an RFPIO customer I worked with. This client had a Business Unit for North American and another for EMEA. They wanted Business Units so that EMEA could more effectively track its project workflow and would not have to wait to be granted projects from a global team managing the original single instance.

Teams, content, and templates (by language) were separated. Leaders from both GEOs were connected, however, and collaborated on strategic initiatives. They set up the roll-up reporting so that executives could more effectively track time savings to determine how many more opportunities the EMEA team could pursue.

How do you know if you need Business Units with your RFPIO instance?

Review these 6 questions. If you answer “yes” to any of them, then schedule a consultation to see if Business Units may be a good option for you:

  • Do multiple teams/departments/cost centers use RFPIO?
  • Do you want to expand RFPIO in your organization?
  • Do you have RFPIO users located in multiple GEOs?
  • Do you respond to bids, RFx, security questionnaires, or other external requests in multiple languages?
  • Do you have a single executive stakeholder or team that reviews the effectiveness of RFPIO in the enterprise?
  • Have you merged, or are you planning to merge with a company that is also using RFPIO or RFP360?

If you’re still not sure but want to know more about Business Units, you can review my webinar in the Help Center if you’re an RFPIO customer.

How to choose the right RFP software in 5 steps

How to choose the right RFP software in 5 steps

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

Bill Gates reminds us of the important roles process and people play in efficiency gains through automated technology.

Responders continually seek out efficiency in their RFP response process. The most successful responders see the best results by collaborating within a single response management platform…RFP software.

Software selection process steps for RFP software

Since you’re reading this, RFP response automation is obviously on your radar. And you’re the lucky person tasked with figuring out a sustainable solution.

Whether you are a proposal manager leading the charge with RFP response or a VP of Marketing who owns the technology budget, make your RFP software comparison quest easier by following these software selection process steps.

1. Meet with your RFP response team.

Before you commit to an annual RFP software subscription, schedule a meeting with your entire RFP response team (subject matter experts, executive stakeholders, bid writers, etc.). The goal is to discover gaps and opportunities in your current workflow, then make improvements through RFP automation.

2. Prioritize RFP software features.

Now that you know what your RFP response team needs in order to thrive, it’s time to prioritize RFP software features. Divide features into two columns—”must-have” and “nice-to-have.” If having a holistic view of RFP projects is a top priority, project dashboards are a must-have. If communication is dialed in, then Slack or Microsoft Team integrations are a nice-to-have.

3. Explore RFP software comparison platforms.

Third-party validation is a key part of decision-making for any purchase, including RFP software. Think of G2 Crowd and Capterra as Yelp for software products. Use these RFP software comparison tools to compare and contrast features and check out customer feedback. Seeing use cases in the real RFP response management world will inspire ideas and validate decisions.

4. Make a data-driven case for RFP software.

Have no idea how many hours your team spends on RFP responses? Demystify these costs by tracking everyone’s time. Use our ROI calculator to find out how much you will save on both hours and resources with RFP response automation. Armed with data, you’ll rely on stats instead of emotions to make a strong case for additional budget to cover RFP software.

5. Understand the product and the service.

Once you have narrowed down RFP software providers, schedule a demo to see the solution in action and meet the team you’re considering working with. Bring your priority features list, along with questions that need to be addressed. Pay special attention to the user experience as the solution should be quick and easy for all RFP contributors to learn.

RFPIO clients best demonstrate their efficiency progress with RFP software.

Before using RFPIO, 49% spent several weeks responding to RFPs. Since using RFPIO, 31% finish RFP projects in a week and 37% complete RFPs in a single day. With the right RFP software, your response management team will experience similar efficiency gains.

Schedule a demo of RFPIO to start making progress.

10 RFP issuers reveal what they’re looking for in an RFP response

10 RFP issuers reveal what they’re looking for in an RFP response

“Think of the RFP issuer” is a piece of advice we have always given to RFP responders. Although responders put a lot of effort into their work, so do the teams evaluating RFP responses.

Both parties are spending hours and resources submitting and evaluating RFPs. In the spirit of saving everyone time and energy, we decided to step in and break down the barriers between RFP issuers and RFP responders.

We asked issuers to speak up about what they’re looking for in an RFP response. Listen to what they had to say, so you can impress your next RFP issuer with a standout RFP response.

What RFP issuers expect from your RFP responses

Maurice Harary, CEO at The Bid Lab

Don’t reinvent the wheel each time you receive an RFP—you should always store your responses in a database after you submit each bid. That way, you can build on existing content while tailoring responses to your individual bid.

Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva

When I put out an RFP for an audit, I absolutely need impeccable formatting in your proposal. If I’m going to trust someone with the keys to our company’s backend, they better be able to tiptoe in, execute, then extract themselves without a single bit of data knocked out of place.

If you are sending in a proposal that is improperly punctuated or formatted, how can I possibly trust you with this job? It might seem strict, but I cannot spare the time to monitor your every movement. I need a firm which demonstrates flawless work.

Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa, Behavioral & Marketing Psychologist at Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa and Associates

As a behavioral and marketing psychologist, allow me to first say that most of your providers will tell you how painful your RFPs are if you are brave and self-confident enough to ask. Respond using conversational language rather than talking at the reader. Use no more than two subjects and predicates in each sentence. Most responders emulate William Faulkner.

Brian Sheehan, Marketing and Sales Manager at Hollingsworth

Winning RFPs are clear and concise—and backed with storytelling data. We look for both anecdotal and quantitative data to determine the success of the grantee. If the RFP is clear and concise, this saves us time in reviewing the stacks of RFPs that we receive. Also…

  1. Make your RFP responses easy to understand, straightforward, and impactful. For quality control, multiple reviewers should check responses before you submit. People want to make sure they’re working with the best organizations to further their mission.
  2. Have a clear budget and timeline. Ensure that your budget matches your deliverables. Create a timeline for the project and what to expect every week, month, etc.
  3. Adhere to RFP formatting requirements. Many RFP issuers will have specific formatting requirements, which may include: printing front to back, single sheet only, certain font size, number of words, forms that must be used, etc. A simple formatting mistake might disqualify you.

Chris Ciligot, Marketing Assistant at Clearbridge Mobile

An effective RFP should provide a high-level overview of your company. This includes answering: what products/services your company provides, who key stakeholders are, what industry or market you operate in, and most importantly—why your company exists and what problem you are trying to solve.

Reuben Yonatan, Founder and CEO at GetVOIP

Relevant recent work is important. Because everything about the internet is always in flux, we need to know that you understand best practices today…not best practices from five years ago. Spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors impact our decision. First impressions matter, so we make sure that every respondent to our RFPs can work to our quality standards.

Chris Stasiuk, Founder + Creative Director at Signature Video Group

The perfect proposal aims to satisfy every personality type at the decision-making table: trust and a clear definition of solutions for leadership, storytelling for the creatives, timelines for the process-driven folks, numbers for the accountants, and careful formatting for the procurement people. Do this and you will consistently win more RFPs.

Caitlyn Helsen, Project Manager at Watchdog Real Estate Project Management

Graphics really help! We understand there is a lot of information to report, but long narratives can be cumbersome and make the RFP response feel daunting. RFPs that convey information in a creative way are more dynamic, and therefore, the reader is more engaged in the actual content.

Ryan Glick, Co-Founder at Pixelayn Innovations

The majority of vendors I’ve interacted with over the past 15 years have used cookie-cutter RFP responses that they send to all inquiring businesses. Sure, it’s understandable to use standard responses for some RFP questions, but this shouldn’t be the strategy used for everything. Rarely do I see vendors take the time to research my business and adjust their responses to be more specific and meaningful. When a vendor provides responses that appear like they were written specifically for my company, this catches my attention.

John Hrivnak, President at Hrivnak Associates, Ltd.

The strategy worked in a very competitive marketing effort for a $220M project…

  1. Out-homework your competition.
  2. Use information from your homework to hit “their target” not “your target.”
  3. Confirm “their targets” with your account managers.
  4. In the cover letter, relay that you have heard them loud and clear regarding their needs.
  5. Put the name of each recipient on the cover letter to personalize. If you’ve talked with the RFP evaluator, add a hand-written note on the cover letter.
  6. In the executive summary, repeat “their targets” again and include a sense of urgency. (i.e. If they act now, you can prioritize their project in the queue.)
  7. Within the body of your RFP responses, always reiterate their questions followed by your responses.
  8. Judiciously weave in how you will manage the project to hit “their targets” throughout your RFP responses.
  9. Try to make time to edit your RFP responses.

Ready to impress your next RFP issuer? Schedule a demo of RFPIO to find out how our response management platform makes it easier for your content to stand out.

Top 7 reasons to use RFP software for analyst questionnaires

Top 7 reasons to use RFP software for analyst questionnaires

Spring is a special time for marketing teams. Event season is around the corner, semi-annual budgeting and reviews are due soon, and lead volumes are starting to ramp up after the holiday season. But if there’s one thing that spring means for marketing, it’s analyst questionnaires & reports. You know—the all-powerful grids, benchmarks, reports, and quadrants that prove to the world that your solution is the best one out there.

Like most marketers I love analyst reports—at least the potential value they bring. They are instant pieces of rich content. Analyst reports bring credibility and brand recognition to a campaign, and they deliver a spike in confidence both internally and externally around your core offering. However, filling them out can be a challenging process.

You may be asking yourself what this has to do with RFP software? Well, this year I joined the RFPIO marketing team, and during my on-boarding product training, I kept thinking, “Why didn’t I have this for my analyst questionnaires?!” It immediately made the case to me for a robust response management platform to make the process easier.

I’d like to address some of the challenges analyst reports bring, and then give you my list of reasons why a response management solution like RFPIO can help you, my fellow marketer.

Marketing Analyst Questionnaires RFPIO

Analyst questionnaires require extensive resources

To be honest, I would sometimes dread seeing the yearly analyst questionnaires arrive at my desk. My job as a product marketer was busy enough. But in reality, these projects always required a team effort. Much like RFPs, marketing analyst reports require detailed answers from subject matter experts scattered across many departments.

Industry analyst questionnaires typically come in the form of an Excel document, with dozens to hundreds of questions. The questions range from basic company info to detailed summaries of annual user activity, and even the long term executive financial strategy.

As it turns out, even as a product expert I was only ever able to answer about 30 percent of analyst questionnaires independently. I would need to engage with 10 to 15 SMEs to answer a hundred questions, usually setting me back about 20 to 25 hours.

Marketing Project RFPIO Platform

Many of the questions I found myself searching for had previously been answered by an SME as well. RFx and security questionnaire answers were often forwarded to me with comments like, “Hey Phill, I answered that question in a recent RFI, you will find your answer in the attached document.” It didn’t make sense to duplicate efforts, but this wasn’t a very efficient process either.

Licensing analyst content to support sales and marketing efforts can also be very valuable. While ROI from these assets is often hard to directly credit, keep in mind that 57 percent of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier, and 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally (Curata). This all means that it’s wise to invest in content that influences the buyer as early in their journey as possible.

But it’s not cheap. An average marketing team can expect to pay anywhere from $10,000 to over $100,000 per report, for various levels of licensing rights.

The analyst questionnaire response process takes time

Filling out the marketing analyst questionnaires and then waiting on results happens over a period of months. Here’s what that process typically looks like:

Early Spring: Potential participants briefed on report, given required materials to complete with strict deadlines.

Early Summer: Reports and questionnaires due back to analyst groups. One to three months for review & processing.

Early Fall: Drafts of completed analyst reports issued to participants, along with licensing options.

This is pretty standard across the board, for all the major players. Some of the most popular and influential analyst research reports for technology companies include the Forrester Wave Report, Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, IDC, and HSF, to name a few.

Allocating time and resources to the process of submitting analyst questionnaires usually limits companies to participating in one or two reports per year. And even then, they may not like the results enough to license the content!

Some opt out of participating in the questionnaires altogether, but that runs the risk of not being represented on the grid at all. And that can give your competitors a leg up. So even if you choose not to license a report, by submitting the analyst questionnaire at least your logo will be represented.

Instead of deciding which one to submit, or whether or not to submit at all, with response management software you don’t have to choose.

7 response management platform benefits to marketing

By leveraging RFPIO’s Answer Library, marketing teams can now participate in all questionnaires. I wish I had a time machine to go back and approach each of the above problems through the lense of response management software—specifically RFPIO. Instead, I will offer you the benefits that I didn’t realize were at my fingertips:

1. Saves Time
This is big. Multiple analyst questionnaires can be answered in less time and with fewer resources than a single questionnaire would require without response management software.

2. Mitigates Risk
The ability to complete all available questionnaires affords marketing teams the freedom to wait for all the results, and choose to invest in whichever licensing report tells their best story.

3. Improves Results
The recommendation engine within your RFPIO Answer Library draws from proven content already crafted by your subject matter experts, so you know what works.

4. Consistent Responses
You won’t be reinventing the wheel every time you fill out a questionnaire. With response management software our company’s voice will stay consistent and on brand across the board.

5. Project Management
All your concurrent projects and competing due dates are managed in a central location, to help you keep track of progress and monitor success.

6. Formatting Ease
Take back those hours you usually spend making fonts and spacing match up, and let RFPIO do the work. Then you can export right back to the source file or an approved template.

7. Familiar Platform
If your company is already using RFPIO, all this functionality is available to you right now. There are no add-on costs associated with using the platform for different types of projects.

If you’re struggling with analyst questionnaires, my fellow marketer, feast your weary eyes upon RFPIO. With a response management platform, you can challenge those old processes, make your job easier, and help your company tell its story in a more impactful way.

Interested in seeing a demo? Let us know.

Control F is so 2018, time for a proposal management upgrade

Control F is so 2018, time for a proposal management upgrade

Many notable events happened in 2018: the false missile alarm in Hawaii, the Winter Olympics, the box office hit Black Panther, the World Cup in Russia, the congressional hearing with Mark Zuckerberg, and the loss of Aretha Franklin, Burt Reynolds, and Stephen Hawking.

But, there is a recurring event that happened across technology organizations last year that you may have missed in the news…the overuse of Control+F when searching for historic RFP responses.

As a proposal manager, you’ve used Control+F (or Command+F) more times than you can count. The irony here is that you’re working at a tech company. You’re used to being ahead of the curve, an innovator in your space. If those two keyboard buttons Control+F are your faithful companions in the response process, then it’s time to make a serious change.

Control+F is so 2018 and we can’t allow you to continue on this way. Content management is really the root cause of your Control+F habit. Let’s upgrade your existing approach to proposal management by improving your content techniques.

“The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. And so in a sense, it is all about potential.” – Steve Ballmer

Proposal management upgrade: Answer library

In a Control+F environment, RFP responses are stored everywhere: in folders on your company’s server or Google Drive, in docs and spreadsheets within those folders, or in some document management and storage system that is a small step above a manual RFP response process. An answer library serves as your content hub, where all company information is stored, organized, and accessible. This is “Better Proposal Management 101.”

Proposal management upgrade: Search

Rather than Control+F, use search functionality within RFPIO’s answer library to quickly find content. Search by standard keywords, a phrase “enclosed in quotes,” or even a fuzzy search. A fuzzy what? Fuzzy searches discover terms that are similar to a specified term without necessarily being an exact match. (i.e. Slack~ which gives the result as “stock”, “track,” “crack,” and “slack.”) Yes, it’s an answer library search technique you will love using.

Proposal management upgrade: Star rating

Today you’re probably highlighting your favorite content in documents or spreadsheets. With a response management platform like RFPIO, use the star rating feature to prioritize your best content instead. When you give a response five stars, the system recognizes that this content should be presented first in a search. Weaker content remains hidden within the system’s shadows.

rfp content library

Check out These Before and After Answer Library Stories

Proposal management upgrade: Auto-Respond

There is nothing automated about using Control+F, am I right? But with auto-respond, content with the highest relevancy score populates the answer fields for you—a bit like voodoo, the good kind. Automatically respond to questions that are similar to questions you’ve answered previously. You can also mass auto-complete several questions from multiple sections at once, which is especially valuable with lengthy security questionnaires.

Proposal management upgrade: Visibility

Keeping track of your RFP project is much easier when you’re using a single proposal management platform. Dashboards help you monitor progress to see where the entire project stands. If an SME (subject matter expert) is falling behind, you’ll know exactly when to nudge them. This level of visibility also motivates you, because you’ll be able to see the finish line.

Proposal management upgrade: Accuracy

The next step after Control+F is copy and paste, which can affect accuracy. If you forget to change the organization’s name, then it’s obvious that you reused content without taking the time to customize and polish. Merge tags are great because the system replaces those fields automatically. Content audits are equally important for ensuring your responses are updated and relevant—you can set audit reminders to stay on top of your content.

In 2019, 64% of organizations are ramping up their budgets so they can upgrade outdated IT infrastructure. That’s a really good sign for you and your team as you orchestrate all of the moving pieces of proposal management. During the budget conversation, you can make a strong case—especially in a technology company where your organization definitely doesn’t want to be the one left behind.

Step away from your computer keyboard and say this with us: “No more Control+F. No more Control+F. No more Control+F.” Feels good, right? Okay, now come back and sign up for a demo of RFPIO.

And, hey…welcome to the future of proposal management.

12 RFP response automation stats to rev up your sales engine

12 RFP response automation stats to rev up your sales engine

Q4 is flying by, isn’t it? Your sales team likely needs a wee bit of motivation this time of year to meet their revenue objectives. If you’re looking for clever ways to rev up your sales engine, look no further than your RFP response process. To improve your win rate and meet your sales goals efficiently, RFP response automation is where it’s at.

As a salesperson who does double-duty as an RFP responder, time is a commodity. On average companies invest up to 40 hours into every RFP response and the RFP close rate is around 5%.

Understandably, you start thinking about greener pastures. The thing is, RFPs can be that revenue generator you’re looking for if you refocus your strategy.

According to Salesforce and McKinsey Global Institute, 40% of tasks within the traditional sales function can now be automated. With RFP software, you can automate the following strategies to help you respond faster to business opportunities, beat the competition, and achieve your sales goals.

Sounds amazing, right? That’s because it is.

RFP response automation for faster submission

When RFPs are coming at you from every direction, you have to prioritize to meet tight deadlines. You already know about the time investment that will be involved. Focusing on proposals with higher chances of winning is a smart approach.

According to the Standish group, small projects have a 70% higher chance of performing better than large projects. RFPs from that ungettable enterprise company is enchanting, of course, but stiff competition accompanies that enchantment. Mid-sized business RFPs might be a better fit for your organization, and they too can have a positive impact on your sales numbers.

Collaboration cannot be undermined in RFP response—it’s necessary every time. Considering the fact that an average professional receives about 100 emails each day, using emails alone as a collaboration tool won’t cut it. Something is bound to get missed since only 24% of sales emails get opened anyway. It’s time to automate.

How RFP response automation helps you submit faster…

Speed and accuracy are the weapons needed for winning RFPs. As soon as you receive an RFP, RFPIO makes it easy to get started with project collaboration.

  • The import function brings in any document format from the issuer, be it a spreadsheet, document, or PDF.
  • You or your proposal manager quickly assign questions and sections to SMEs.
  • Communication happens with alerts through a dedicated Slack channel, through the platform, or through Salesforce—less email means fewer tasks slip through the cracks.
  • The review cycle runs smoothly with sequential reviewing, ensuring the best possible deliverable is pulled together in an orderly fashion.
  • The beautiful finale happens when you export back into the source document or a branded template of your choosing, without a bunch of reformatting and sleepless nights.
  • You deliver a quality RFP on time…and you’re off to the next one.

“With RFPIO, all the content is in one place that the entire team can access (proposal writers and sales reps). This not only saves time and reduces errors, but also increases collaboration within the team. RFPIO is a huge time saver, and makes it easy to access and update our content as needed.” 

RFP response automation for beating the competition

Gartner points out that most clients spend 45% of their time searching for possible alternatives, both offline and online, before reaching out to sales. Personalization is the secret to success with any content. Personalizing your RFP responses helps you one-up your competition, who is probably over there recycling the same old boilerplates as they rush to meet the deadline.

Coaching your sales representatives on how to leverage technology to create personalized RFP responses can really help here. Sales teams that undergo at least three hours of training or coaching every month surpass their targets by 7% and increase their win rate by 70%. A strong team, personalized messaging, and technology powers equals winning at RFPs.

How RFP response automation helps you beat the competition…

RFP software automates the entire content creation process, freeing up your time to keep the focus on personalization. With RFP response automation, your team spends more time customizing and polishing RFP responses. Since most of the legwork is already taken care of, quality improvement is the main focus.

  • Auto-response fills in the majority of the questions up front with the help of AI, which grows smarter the more you use the application.
  • Search is another way to find content quickly, without the need for a Google Drive folder expedition.
  • Rating and tagging make top content accessible for anyone to grab and include in their RFP responses.
  • Content audit reminders can be set up at a cadence of your choosing, reminding proposal leads to refresh outdated information and rid the answer library of unnecessary duplicates.

There is little training needed for a solution like RFPIO, which is incredibly user-friendly. Team members across departments can start using the solution for an RFP project right after onboarding. This ease promotes a collaborative environment since multiple users can work together in a centralized platform, regardless if they are in the same office or on a different continent.

You just lost a huge request for proposal…now what? Read this.

rfp response example

RFP response automation for sales achievements

Demand Gen revealed that you gain a 20% increase in sales opportunities from cultivated leads. Only 2% of deals are successful during the first meeting. Also, 84% of customers start their RFP process with a referral and peer recommendations influence about 90% of buying decisions.

Sales is a bit of a battlefield, isn’t it? You’re not alone in feeling this way. What it really comes down to is maximizing the hours you have in a day to get the most results. Though RFPs might not seem like the easiest avenue for achieving sales, every RFP is, in fact, a business opportunity.

It turns out that 45% of sales teams report excessive administration duties like manual data entry as one of their main challenges. When you have a manual RFP response process, it’s like you’re on that battlefield with a blindfold AND your hands tied behind your back. So, a good look at your process is worth it.

How RFP software helps you achieve sales…

Repetition is part of the RFP cycle, whether you’re responding to an RFI or a security questionnaire. RFPIO’s features help in multiple use cases, including security questionnaires where bulk answering and the same import/export functionality are available.

  • The project overview dashboard gives insight into the progress, status, and contributors.
  • You can feel good about where everything’s at without spending time tracking people down for updates.
  • With the time you gain from automating these processes, you can respond to more RFPs.
  • By responding to more RFPs, you increase your win potential and achieve your sales goals.

Automating repetitive tasks allows you to focus more on other sales generating activities. Automation also means you can really fine-tune the RFP for your prospect as you’ll have more time to pay attention to the requirements, versus whizzing through various questions and missing important details.

A motivated and productive sales team plays a big role in bringing in new business through RFPs. Successful RFP management is all about using technology to automate processes for efficiency. RFP response automation will empower your team to reach their sales goals.

This is how you master RFP software and close more deals

This is how you master RFP software and close more deals

You already know that RFP software is a central application for streamlining your RFP response process. This improved process allows you to minimize resources allocated to RFPs and reallocate that time you win back to other sales initiatives. Responding to more RFPs is one way to spend that extra time wisely, so you can increase your chances to win more deals.

RFP software is a key piece of sales enablement technology in some of today’s most successful organizations. Sales teams using RFP software are able to focus on what they do best….sales. This makes RFP software an essential part of your revenue driving engine.

We process RFPs all the time inside our own software application here at RFPIO. So, we speak from firsthand experience when we say that all teams can use RFP software for multiple sales enablement use cases.

When you master your RFP response process, you will close more deals. But, first…you need to master RFP software.

“Mastering the RFP response process is crucial to your sales enablement efforts. It’s also a defined need / process that can be optimized through discipline and enabling technology.” – Robert Pease, Heinz Marketing

RFP answer library: Your single source of truth

As a salesperson you need to know about your product, but you certainly can’t know everything. An RFP answer library helps you answer questions in real-time.

RFP software eliminates the need to ping Joe on your product team for the millionth time to find the answer you don’t know when you’re on a discovery call. Instead of panicking while your prospect is on hold, keep your sales conversation flowing instead with a swift search in your answer library.

A friend of mine at Smarsh told me a lot of their salespeople keep RFPIO open during sales calls. Before they adopted RFP software, they had to approach sales engineers or other technical subject matter experts anytime they needed to figure out a quick answer.

This feedback cycle happened by email, phone calls, chat, or meetings. It was challenging for both the salesperson and the SME, who were strapped for time with other priorities. Sales was trying to impress the prospect, but they didn’t have the best process for knowledge sharing to pull that off.

At its core, a solution like RFPIO is a content management platform. The answer library is where companies store their RFP responses. But, a content repository of this caliber brings value above and beyond the RFP process. Your answer library acts as a single source of truth for company knowledge.

Using your answer library for sales success

We’re sure you have knowledge sharing practices in place at your organization, even if you’re not using RFP software. Some salespeople store what they need in Google Docs or spreadsheets. This manual approach tends to be less about knowledge sharing and more about individual methods for organizing information.

There are other content management systems you might use internally to store sales content. While this is a step in the right direction, we often hear from salespeople that these systems end up being more of a workaround rather than a scalable solution. They are not user-friendly and the search functionality just isn’t as good.

That brings us back to RFP software—and our helpful friend, the answer library. Here are some clever ways you can use an RFP answer library for sales enablement on a daily basis.

Discovery Calls

We’ve already covered this, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re an SDR or BDR, hear us out: Use RFP software for your discovery calls and ditch the manual methods you’re using today.

When you don’t have the answer right away, this is one of the easiest ways to find that information. You can log notes and share them with your account executive, so they can take the opportunity from there. One of our coolest features we released recently is RFPIO Lookup, a Chrome extension that allows you to find sales content even faster.

Sales Emails

While we love to minimize email around here, there’s really no way to eliminate them altogether. At the end of the day, you spend a lot of time in your inbox talking to prospects and clients. You send repetitive emails throughout the entire sales cycle.

Quickly pull answers from your RFP content library, and feel free to store common email responses here. That pricing sheet or amazing ebook resource? You can store those in your answer library and send them along to your prospects at will.

P.S. If you need some email templates for your RFP response process, we have several emails in this blog that you can copy and paste.

Sales Training

We actually have several human resources teams that use RFPIO for onboarding. It makes sense, being that you have this huge content repository of company information available. The same use case applies to sales training.

Rather than repeating basic information, empower new hires to find the answer independently in your RFP answer library. Sales training assets can be stored here too.

sales enablement rfp software

Other ways RFP software supports your sales team

We could go on forever about the many clever ways to use your answer library as that single source of truth for your organization. But, let’s go deeper into the sales process with a few other RFP software features that are here to help your sales team be successful.

Pipeline Management

Sales managers, sales directors, and sales VPs need to keep close tabs on the pipeline. Since responding to RFPs is how we gain business, it’s good to know that RFP software offers a pipeline management system.

At any given time, you can see how things are progressing with an important RFP. If you’re wondering what your win / loss ratio looks like for the quarter, you’ll see those numbers in the executive dashboard. Compare year-over-year, and learn that you won $13M from RFPs this year versus $18M last year. When you’re looking at this data in Q3, create a more aggressive RFP response action plan to finish out the year strong.

User Reporting

Your sales operations team can access RFP software user reporting to look at the sales process from a larger encompassing view. Ops can even track the amount of time RFP responders are spending on RFPs. This isn’t about calling anyone out for negative purposes, but it will shed some light on internal roadblocks and opportunities.

When you use RFP software for resource management, you might find out it’s finally time to hire a dedicated proposal manager—or that you need to expand your existing proposal management team. If a salesperson continually jumps into RFP projects as a contributor, going above and beyond their regular job responsibilities, maybe it’s time for a gesture of gratitude or even a promotion.

“Sales teams using Slack experience a 25% increase in potential deals won per year per sales team member.” – IDC Research

Slack Integration

A Slack integration with RFP software is truly a lifesaver for busy salespeople. Any salesperson working on a deal needs to know exactly when an RFP is finished. With a Slack integration, you don’t have to wonder anymore since you see comments about a specific RFP project within Slack.

If you need to jump into an RFP project to review or clarify, simply leave a comment inside RFPIO and the comment gets pushed to Slack. The “RFPIO project” Slack channel will show your comment to that group. Communication is key for any RFP response process. A Slack integration keeps everyone aligned, increasing project visibility while decreasing emails.

Salesforce Integration

For a salesperson, the most important things you do inside RFPIO can be done inside Salesforce. Let’s say you’re the RFP point person and you usually pass off RFPs to a proposal manager, proposal writer, or proposal management team.

To get the project started, import an RFP from Salesforce directly into RFPIO and go about your intake processes. Rather than taking notes somewhere else, add basic details about the RFP to the Opportunity. All of the executive dashboard data points we mentioned previously are visible inside Salesforce.

Salesforce integration with RFP software keeps your team in the application they spend the most amount of time in. This allows your team to centralize sales content and simplify processes.

In conclusion, RFP software is really cool sales enablement technology. This solution addresses so many different organizational needs.You don’t have to be involved in RFP responses to master RFP software. You can use RFP software’s advanced capabilities anytime you need access to company information.

When you adopt RFP software, you’re making an investment to greatly improve your RFP response time. But, you’ll see the investment pay off in many other areas as well.

This is one of the best ways out there for managing content across your organization. You only have so much time to meet your sales objectives. Why not maximize each day with great technology like RFP software?

How to position financial services RFP responses for success

How to position financial services RFP responses for success

Do people believe their organization fully understands the value of project management? A substantial 42% said “no” in a recent report by Project Management Institute. A big reason why companies spend more time than they should on RFP responses often comes down to not valuing project management enough.

An inefficient RFP response process is a common link between modern organizations across a range of industries. But, for financial services, there are unique obstacles that keep teams from reaching their growth objectives. And since competition in the financial world is always intense, winning RFPs is a pretty important step in the sales cycle.

Better RFP response management for financial services organizations is possible. First you need to recognize your process roadblocks to find the best solution for your team. This is how you get started, so you can position your RFP projects for success.

The roadblock in a financial services RFP response process

Financial services companies usually have a different setup internally. Often there is no gigantic sales team or proposal management team handling RFPs. So, the main roadblock you will run into with your RFP response process is the workflow.

Typically someone who is working with a potential client is the one who receives the RFP and starts working on it. Then, they pull in other subject matter experts when necessary. Although this person has other primary responsibilities, they have to throw on their proposal manager hat to see the project through to completion.

Sound familiar? Though responding to RFPs isn’t your job, bringing in new business is. It is for everyone at an organization.

We get it. You feel your time is better served in front of clients. This is obviously important for the business as well. If you’re not doing so already, prioritizing technology will help you save time with your RFP response process. That way you can get back to focusing on your clients.

Prioritizing technology for managing RFP responses

40% revealed that investing in technology is a high priority for enabling project success. That leaves many others who don’t see the value in technology they are currently using or considering.

project management priorities

Source: Project Management Institute

Since it’s more “all hands on deck” with RFPs at a financial services company, everyone has to contribute in some way. You don’t have a dedicated proposal management team to steer the ship. And, your sales team is spread thin. Might technology be the answer?

RFP software can help you manage all of this, whether you are a team of few or many. Compared to a manual RFP response process, technology allows you to do more with less while organizing the everyday complexities of your unique workflow. Whether you’re repurposing content from past responses or collaborating with SMEs on current projects, you can get more done with RFP software.

Solve Inefficiencies with This Security Questionnaire Template

security questionnaire template

How financial services can benefit from RFP software

Look, we understand that you probably like spreadsheets more than the average professional. But, managing your RFP responses that way is far from efficient. Working after hours using Control+F to hunt down a past RFP response? We know you’ve done that right before a deadline.

RFPIO has quite a few features that will make proposal management easier for you. Here’s how…

Gain RFP project visibility

Dashboards allow you to track and manage your RFP projects, so you always know what’s going on. You can see who has been assigned to specific sections of an RFP or security questionnaire and track completion progress. It’s a lot easier to handle an RFP when you have this level of visibility and know where the entire project stands.

Automate RFP responses

Auto-response fills in the majority of questions from the beginning of each RFP project, defeating even the most massive security questionnaire. You can auto-respond to everything, review, then fill in the gaps by engaging the necessary SMEs. If you’re taking the lead, this does a lot of the work for you.

automate security questionnaires
Increase accuracy with RFPs

Manually copying and pasting from past responses might be the death of your RFP. Reusing content is fine until you call a client by the wrong name. Merge tag functionality saves you from a lot of anxiety, since the system replaces those fields automatically.

Store and filter RFP content

A content library allows you to keep RFP responses organized in one easily searchable place. You don’t have to sift through past RFPs, use CTL-F to find the response, then copy and paste into your document. RFP software does the heavy lifting for you—all you have to do is click a button.

Standardize the export process

A major timesaver happens during the export process. You have the ability to export into either the source document or a corporate template, so you have a uniform RFP deliverable. When 15 people contribute to an RFP, 15 different sized fonts usually happen along the way. What used to take a couple of hours can be done in a couple of seconds.

Investing in technology like RFP software will only help you do your job better. By spending less time responding to RFPs with a more efficient process, you’ll be able to turn more attention to your clients and priorities.

You’re doing the right thing by taking the lead with your company’s RFPs. Now you just need the technology to support your mission.

RFP automation and enterprise collaboration software

RFP automation and enterprise collaboration software

Business success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and that’s true in today’s world of tech more than ever. Innovative programmers need marketers to get the word out, self-confident sales reps need solutions consultants to answer those impossible prospect concerns, CEOs need CMOs, proposal managers need proposal writers…it takes a village. And that village needs the right tools to stay competitive. Enter, enterprise collaboration software.

We’ve talked about the importance of enterprise collaboration tactics in process. But a key way to make sure your business is running as smoothly as possible is to find and implement enterprise collaboration software (ECS) that aligns not only with your current needs and processes but also your key goals for the future. There’s absolutely no shame in asking for help, especially when that help can increase productivity, improve morale, and reduce costs.

Our friends at Smartsheet take a deep dive into enterprise collaboration and choosing the best ECS for your needs, so we’ve compiled some of their hot topics and discussed how great ECS like RFPIO can take your enterprise collaboration to the next level.

Enterprise Collaboration Software Then and Now

Did that really require a reply-all email?

One key thing to understand about today’s enterprises is we’re already collaborating all day long—just ask my calendar full of meetings before the work week has even begun. What ECS helps ensure is that our collaboration is smarter and more tailored to getting real work done as opposed to simply abundant. Unless it’s the only line in our job description, nobody feels good about spending the entire day trying to wrangle The Inbox.

Enterprise collaboration software removes much of the unnecessary “noise” that results from typical modern collaboration, such as reply-all emails with 10 attachments requiring some kind of attention from someone in the giant email chain. This streamlines project management and keeps your inbox free to hold information that actually belongs in emails.

This is not to say email isn’t still crucial to successful enterprise collaboration: in fact, the best ECS (like RFPIO) will leverage your current processes to get work done faster and smarter. For example, an email notification letting you know your expertise has been requested in an open RFP response is a fantastic way to take advantage of email without relying on it to go back and forth about the RFP question at hand, tweaking language, pulling in others who then have to read the entire email chain, etc.

We at RFPIO believe hugely in leveraging the right collaboration methods for each unique goal. Integrations with collaboration tools—along with comments and @-mentioning—make RFP response collaboration easier for SMEs without going back and forth via email with small updates to the original information.

“Software should actually help you work better, rather than simply boast cool functions and awesome design. This means that the focus should be on more intuitive interfaces and integrations with the apps that team members already use. It also means that the needs of your teams should drive your software choices.” – Smartsheet

I’ve been around the world (and worked the whole time!)

Staying in close proximity to our work even if we’re not in front of a desktop has become increasingly important over the last few years. We get work done in taxis, on buses, in line at the grocery store. No one screen size owns more than 26% of the market share, and 90% of people move between devices to accomplish a given goal.

At the end of the day, enabling productivity means bringing work to you versus going out of your way to get work done: solution mobility and the ability to fluidly move between devices is king.

The next generation of flexible, web browser-based enterprise collaboration tools is here, and RFPIO is no exception. If your RFP response contributors are traveling all the time and only like to work on planes with their tablets, your chosen ECS should anticipate that and offer feature parity across every device, not just laptops.

Further to that end, integration with third-party applications is perhaps just as important as the ECS’s functional features. Since the goal is ultimately to reduce user effort and bring the work to you, you should be able to utilize every tool at your disposal the way it’s meant to be used.

For example, RFPIO lets you consolidate the tools most important for your organization, with bi-directional integrations with CRMs like Salesforce, as well as with cloud storage like Dropbox and communication platforms like Slack. Implementing new ECS doesn’t mean overhauling your existing processes. Slack and Zoom certainly have their place in enterprise collaboration just as RFP response automation does.

Compliance, Compliance, Compliance

We could talk about the sexiness of different ECS features all day long, but any new software your business implements still has to comply with the applicable laws and regulations of your industry, not to mention the particular protocols of your unique company. So let’s talk audit trails and why they’re no joke, especially when it comes to creating RFP responses.

Everyone loves a good surprise party, but projects with looming deadlines is not where we want someone to jump out of the cake and squeal with delight, “I DELETED WHAT YOU HAD THERE AND REPLACED IT WITH SOMETHING I LIKED BETTER!” Having full visibility into the response’s assignments and activity history can be the difference between putting out last-minute fires and submitting the proposal days ahead of schedule.

“Working together” means much more than simply showing up every morning and getting along with your colleagues.

Fools rush in…to enterprise collaboration software

Of course, not all ECS is created equal, nor are all companies’ needs. Finding the right software for your unique needs will also be crucial to securing employee buy-in. What’s the point of implementing new software if nobody wants to use it?

Involving key departments and players in the selection process can help you make sure everyone is working toward the same mission versus competing against each other for resources, power, attention, etc. “Working together” means more than simply showing up every morning and getting along with your colleagues. True enterprise collaboration signifies that your workforce is dedicated to moving the entire company forward, not just if they have time or if the project suits them.

Let’s take RFP automation software like RFPIO. How scalable does it need to be? Has your RFP department been begging for more proposal writers? If you plan to triple your size in the next year, will it be able to grow with you without tripling the price? Will only the RFP department ever adopt it, or do you think others across your entire business can be moved to use it as necessary?

Asking these kinds of questions ahead of time will help get everyone on the same page when it comes to planning your organization’s vision for the future. The right ECS for your needs will not only encourage your employees to do their jobs, but also help them see how much more is possible in a day, in a week, in a year when they can collaborate in the most streamlined, real-time ways available today.

Ready to collaborate on RFPs? Schedule a Demo with our team.

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