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Turn obstacles into opportunities with improved healthcare RFPs

Turn obstacles into opportunities with improved healthcare RFPs

“80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.” Expectations for the […]


Category: Tag: RFP Content Management

Turn obstacles into opportunities with improved healthcare RFPs

Turn obstacles into opportunities with improved healthcare RFPs

“80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services.” Expectations for the customer experience are at an all-time high, especially in the highly competitive healthcare market.

RFPs affect your organization’s bottom line. Even if you aren’t directly responsible for sales KPIs, you are responsible for representing your company well. As a subject matter expert (SME), providing expertise is a huge part of your job function, which is why healthcare RFP responses frequently land in your inbox.

Below are a few key obstacles facing subject matter experts in healthcare—and opportunities for improvement through healthcare RFPs and collaborative processes.

3 obstacles facing a subject matter expert in healthcare

Albert Ho, Consultant at Healthcare Heroes and Project Manager at William Osler Health System, is a subject matter expert across multiple healthcare projects at any given time. Over the past two decades, he has faced plenty of operational obstacles as a Registered Nurse, Care Coordinator, and a Project Manager—below are his top three challenges.

1. Not enough IT resources

“IT resources often have multiple projects going on and I’m lucky to get 0.2 of a full-time equivalent. It takes days to get a response from the resources that are completing the work. This makes it difficult to report the status of projects to my manager and senior leaders.”

2. Leadership changes priorities

“Senior leadership will create an Annual Project List, which is reviewed quarterly. This should set the priorities for the upcoming three to six months. However, new priority projects often jump the queue of other priority projects, changing our focus at the last minute.”

3. Unable to obtain consensus in a short timeframe

“I’m often asked to gather requirements from five or more stakeholders, and it takes weeks of meetings to make one decision. With slow decision-making, this makes for slow-moving projects. One particular project took ten years to deploy.”

Turning obstacles into opportunities with healthcare RFPs

You might relate to one, two, or all three of these SME obstacles. So, the question is: How will you overcome them? Although Albert mentioned three obstacles, time and resources are the moral of the story.

Presumably, you can’t solve ALL of your organizational challenges singlehandedly. What you can do is start addressing one facet you are deeply involved in…responding to healthcare RFPs.

In a recent RFPIO survey we conducted, half of SMEs across industries said their primary challenge was spending too much time on RFPs. Keeping company content accurate was a close second, with 33% saying this was a hiccup in their response process.

A response management platform like RFPIO helps healthcare SMEs overcome time and resource obstacles, making space for you and your team to focus on other priorities.

1. A quick, collaborative environment

Healthcare RFPs are complex, requiring multiple collaborators to create content that is technically accurate and compliant with the issuer’s requirements. You’re the expert in your field, but since security measures are of great importance in the healthcare industry, often you will need to work with your IT team on responses.

With RFP software, a proposal manager assigns questions through the platform. If you’re working on your assigned response and realize IT needs to chime in, you simply assign the question to your IT team after you include your response. Or, if a minor clarification is needed, use Slack, Microsoft Teams, or @-mentioning within RFPIO to get a quick response.

2. Anytime access to accurate company information

When you are summoned to respond to healthcare RFPs or other business queries, the answer library is your best friend. Rather than hunting down previous content in folders and spreadsheets, all of your historical documents live in one place. That means you can search, grab, and drop the content into your assigned responses.

Another quick way to find content is through RFPIO LookUp, which is a Chrome extension that allows you to find information straight from your browser without logging into the platform. To ensure accuracy, make sure you perform quarterly content audits to clean up your responses.

3. Moving projects forward with visibility

If shifting priorities and a lack of project visibility are common situations with your healthcare RFPs, response management dashboards diffuse both of those situations. From executive dashboards to project dashboards, your entire proposal management team will track progress as you move together toward the deadline.

Even with robust technology like RFP software, an important step to establishing success involves empowering individuals within your company to manage the system and processes. Make sure your team designates internal stakeholders as soon as you start using the platform, so projects run smoothly with an appointed owner, content manager, trainer, and project manager.

“We answer many security questionnaires from many healthcare organizations each year. It is estimated to take roughly 16 hours to complete a security questionnaire. The initial benefits we have seen with RFPIO are the ability for multiple people to collaborate on the same response versus emailing questions back and forth. That has saved a lot of time and effort.” – Rob Solomon

Being the expert in your field, you truly “hold the keys to the castle” when it comes to getting a proposal done right. You own anywhere from 5% to 20% of the questions on an RFP project, and your revenue team depends on you as a key player in the RFP response process.

By improving the way your organization handles healthcare RFPs, you’ll increase productivity and see greater success in your role. Schedule a demo of RFPIO to make a positive impact on your organization.

How to cure your longstanding RFP headaches

How to cure your longstanding RFP headaches

From Selling Power, by Ganesh Shankar

In a recent survey of sales professionals, we found that a staggering 84 percent of companies are still using manual processes for RFP responses.

The reality is, the burden on internal resources can increase quickly when you take on an RFP. If gathering critical answers for your RFP response is more about begging for help rather than tapping into an efficient flow of information, it may be time to take a hard look at your RFP processes.

The problem with manual-based processes often comes down to an inability to make effective use of previous answers. Files are spread across disjointed and disconnected systems. Even when they are organized, manually hunting through thousands and thousands of answers quickly becomes an exercise in frustration.

Finding answers to common RFP questions

Odds are, many questions included in RFPs have already been asked countless times. Being able to find and reuse quality, up-to-date content can relieve quite a burden on key stakeholders, as they won’t have to spend cycles researching and answering repetitive questions. Ideally, when you come to them for help, you already have relevant answers in hand for them to quickly review and refine.

One company that upgraded from their manual RFP processes was MasterControl, a supplier of quality and compliance-control software in a highly competitive market involving many RFP and security questionnaire responses. To stay ahead of the curve, MasterControl decided the time had come to devise a faster and more efficient RFP process. The firm started by assigning the task of evaluating the proposal response processes to an analytically-minded sales operations professional.

His research showed it took the company 32 hours, on average, to complete an RFP response. In 2017 alone, the company answered more than 100 RFPs, at an estimated total cost of $3,200 each – a more than $300,000 hit to the bottom line. The actual cost across the entire organization was likely much higher.

After evaluating a range of alternatives, MasterControl turned to cloud-based response management software that incorporates a centralized answer repository combined with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. When responding to imported RFP questions, the AI tool automatically populates the best-fit response directly from an answer library. By typing one or two keywords into the search bar, potential answers instantly populate – saving time manually hunting through thousands of documents and answers.

Through using such a response management platform, MasterControl was able to reduce required staff cycles when responding to RFPs by an impressive 40 percent. Additionally, as resource costs decreased, the company was able to free up budget and staff time for other business initiatives.

Although cloud-based response management technology is still emerging as a product segment, a growing number of companies like MasterControl are finding that it allows them to reduce their RFP response times and increase efficiencies. What’s more, using an adaptive learning engine means that, as companies respond to RFPs, their answer library grows in scope and scale. With more content and scenarios on tap, recommendations become more precise and the RFP response process becomes that much more efficient. The response solution can also support other aspects of the business, such as completing lengthy security questionnaires.

Each year, some part of your revenue may come from how well you respond to RFPs. That means it’s worth your while to find ways to explore technology solutions that can help you improve your chances of winning new business while also lowering costs related to producing RFPs.

6 RFP response email samples to steal and send

6 RFP response email samples to steal and send

Every piece of communication during the RFP response process matters. Something that doesn’t get as much attention…the emails we write. Since an RFP response email will be sent to one of your potential clients, it should definitely be handled with care.

No matter what your role is during the RFP process, you likely partake in email communication with key contacts and decision-makers outside your organization at some point. You send repetitive emails for different scenarios—and half the time you don’t know whether you’re saying the right things when you land or lose a deal.

Normally we stand behind a less email approach around here at RFPIO, because we’re big fans of communication integrations we have within our platform. The reality is that a response to an RFP email is a regular part of our daily routines no matter how much technology we have. Just like the RFP responses we work so hard to craft, the emails we send off should be just as concise and engaging.

To help you improve your communication in other parts of the RFP process, we’re showing you 6 RFP response email samples of ours that you are more than welcome to steal and send. Start saving time with prospects by copying and pasting—and, of course—making these emails your own.

“Take advantage of every opportunity to practice your communication skills so that when important occasions arise, you will have the gift, the style, the sharpness, the clarity, and the emotions to affect other people.” – Jim Rohn

RFP response email: Send after receiving RFP

Hi [first name] –

I am honored that [RFPIO] has been selected to respond for [Company]’s business through an RFP. We look forward to showing [Company] and the whole evaluation team why [RFPIO] would be a strategic solution to address the current and future challenges that [Company] is facing in their RFP process.

Based on the current status in the request, I will show how [RFPIO] will help to: create a more consistent process across international regions, save individuals time to focus on other initiatives, and provide insights into all RFP analytics across your organization.

I will follow up within the next week with any questions we have about the RFP.

Thanks again for the opportunity!
Konnor

ProTip: Provide three specific pain points you will solve to show you are the right partner.


RFP response email: Send to clarify RFP project

Hi [first name] –

It is apparent that [name(s)] spent a lot of time putting this request together. Thanks for sending us such an organized RFP outline…they aren’t always delivered this way!

At this time we are still reviewing, and the requirements are aligning well with [RFPIO]’s offerings. We have outlined a few comments and questions. We would like to schedule a one-hour review session with your team to cover everything.

Is your team available at [11:30 am PST] on [Friday] for this review session? Please confirm and I’ll send over a calendar invite.

Thanks and talk soon!
Konnor

ProTip: A positive tone is always key with clarification requests.


RFP response email: Send when submitting RFP

Hi [first name] –

I trust you are well and busy as you receive and review multiple RFP responses. Attached, you will find the following files and folders to accompany the RFP response from [RFPIO]:

  • [Relevant File / Folder]
  • [Relevant File / Folder]
  • [Relevant File / Folder]
  • [Relevant File / Folder]

Our team would be honored to earn [Company]’s trust and business as a result of this RFP submission. The connection we have with [anecdotal personal point, story, business fact, mutual customers, relevant content identified in the sales process] makes the potential of our doing business together that much more exciting.

We look forward to the next steps to come as we continue this process together. I will be standing by for any follow-up questions from your review.

Thank you!
Konnor

ProTip: Bring in a personal touch to avoid a bland RFP submission.


RFP response email: Send to follow-up on RFP submission

Follow-Up #1 – When you haven’t heard from the prospect, and the deadline has not passed.

Hi [first name] –

I trust this finds you well and in the throes of the RFP review. As we approach your review timeline of [August 1], I wanted to check in proactively on [RFPIO]’s submission.

Are there any follow-up questions or clarification points needed from [RFPIO]? I would be happy to hop on a quick call or share a sample of our work to clarify any other functional requirements you might have.

Speak to you soon,
Konnor

Follow-Up #2 – When you still haven’t heard from the prospect, and the deadline has passed.

Hi [first name] –

I’m reaching out to see if I can get an update on [RFPIO]’s recent RFP submission. We passed our deadline of [August 1], and I haven’t heard from anyone at [Company] yet.

Perhaps the project is hung up due to competing priorities, the project is taking a different direction, or another vendor has been decided? Whatever the case may be, any updates would be greatly appreciated.

Speak to you soon,
Konnor

ProTip: Keep your first follow-up message brief and polite. On the second follow-up, gently back away to see if that draws them in.


RFP response email: Send after winning RFP

Hi [first name]-

I was thrilled to learn that [RFPIO] moved forward in the selection process. I speak for the entire team when I say that we appreciate the opportunity to earn your business.

Per the outline of the RFP process, the next step is an onsite presentation for the last week of [August]. I am available [Mon-Wed] in the [afternoons]…do any of these times work for your team?

Very excited, thanks!
Konnor

ProTip: Show your enthusiasm and keep the momentum going to move the project forward.


RFP response email: Send after losing RFP

Hi [first name] –

Thank you for the update. I am surprised by this result as I remember specifically how well the demo went with your team, and the excellent fit between [Company] and [RFPIO].

I absolutely respect your decision, and I only ask for some additional feedback so I can understand how [RFPIO] can continue to improve. Let’s schedule a few minutes to chat, so I can better understand the specifics you were looking for. Any feedback I can glean in this scenario is very valuable.

Thank you very much,
Konnor

ProTip: Lose gracefully, but demonstrate complete confidence in your solution until the end. You never know…they may be back!

We know you’re busy, and now you have some RFP response email samples to make your job a little easier. Depending on the situation, what you say in that email could be the final step in closing that deal.

Don’t dismiss the importance of your response to an RFP email and remember to take your time before you hit send.

RFP content library methods that make life better for all

RFP content library methods that make life better for all

By now we’ve all heard that old adage—content is king. In the context of RFPs, RFIs, and security questionnaires, the higher quality your content…the more efficient your responses will be.

Your RFP content library is really the heart and soul of your response process. Without one, your team lacks quick access to company information that fuels the chaotic operations of RFP projects.

While having an answer library to store responses is tremendously important, so is how your organization tends to that content.

Let’s make life better for your response team by exploring a few methods for fine-tuning the hub of your entire RFP process…the answer library.

Why clean up your RFP content library?

Think of your RFP content library as your bedroom closet. Seasons change, so you have to swap out shorts for sweaters—clothes go out of style or they wear out.

Thousands of Q&A pairs that aren’t culled periodically will affect your team in the long run. Instead of a hole in your favorite t-shirt, it’s a hole in your workflow. And folks, that’s a lot harder to fix.

It never fails that panic and excitement come with every RFP, where all questions need to be answered as efficiently and effectively as possible. The added pressure, of course, lies in the outcome you are aiming to achieve of winning new business.

When you’re under the gun, you want to have peace of mind and feel confident in the historical data resting in your content library. So, just like you clean out your closet at home…it’s time to take inventory of your RFP responses.

Treat RFP content with the same respect

Responding to RFPs involves a ton of content management. This is something many responders don’t realize, because they don’t relate the two.

Content is the culprit, but a necessary one across different stages and departments of every modern organization. Oddly enough, there are many shared challenges proposal teams face that marketers already know.

content management process

Source: ClearVoice

When 1,000 marketers were asked to reveal content challenges related to process, well over half said “time” was an issue. Yet, the remaining marketers were divided among management, planning, and communication with content.

Sound familiar? It does to us too. Because lack of time is the result of an inefficient process. Managing an RFP content library well can dramatically save your team hours when an RFP is due.

Ownership is worth noting here. Just as you would have someone owning all the content for marketing, the same rule applies to your RFP content. Make sure you identify the content manager for RFPs—whether that’s a proposal manager or someone in marketing.

Small organizations often have one person who drives the RFP response process and takes full ownership of the content. Larger teams typically require multiple people to handle content management variables.

Content audits for a slick RFP response process

Great. Now you know a bit about why you need to clean up your RFP content and who will run the show.

A key thing to remember is that quality RFP responses win deals. Even the most captivating content will collect dust in your library if it’s buried under a mess of stale, outdated information.

To avoid this all-too-common bottleneck in the RFP process, content audits are necessary for proposal management teams. At a minimum, audit your content annually. Better yet would be to perform an audit twice a year. Best of all, we recommend quarterly audits.

“84% of organizations still use a manual process to manage RFP responses.”

Really, it depends on bandwidth and how much content you have on-hand in your answer library. The point is…make sure you take the time to audit. We find the quarterly cadence works best for a lot of teams, because it’s not overkill for a busy team-of-one or a team of many.

Consistent content audits will keep quality front and center, so deciding on cadence is truly one of the most important steps in this process. From there, you can decide on the criteria for sorting through your RFP responses. (Helpful questions can be found right here to help guide you through an RFP content audit.)

Neat ways RFP software helps you manage content

While it’s possible to organize RFP content with a well orchestrated system of spreadsheets, technology wins by a longshot when it comes to boosting productivity. RFP software allows you to centralize content for a stronger process from start to finish.

It’s up to individual teams to maximize their success by leveraging features that work best with their process. Here are a few methods that make managing content easier in RFPIO:

Tagging responses accordingly

Tags make finding responses a breeze, and they might be named: Company, Benefits, Security, etc. If you’re the content owner, check that these tags make sense to everyone on your team so they can quickly find the right content.

Assigning cntent to owners

This feature clarifies ownership to ensure content stays in top condition, such as performing regular content audits. Avoid assigning 200 questions to one person to monitor by divvying up responsibility to relevant owners across the organization.

Viewing answer library report

This report shows you the health of your RFP content library. Seeing top owners is helpful in understanding your team’s workload—and when you need to call in support. A timeline allows you to review cadence from last year and know what’s coming up in your pipeline. That way when you’re scheduling those important content audits, you know what’s on your plate.

Your RFP content library deserves a little love from time to time. These are just a few ways to improve your RFP content library to have a successful year. As always, do what’s best at your organization.

Are you asking too much of your RFP process?

Are you asking too much of your RFP process?

There are many things your company can offer another, but offering everything in the world probably isn’t one of them. So, why are RFP process expectations so high?

It’s a sound question for a common problem. Unfortunately, this comes up A LOT in big organizations—spanning verticals from energy to government (and everything in between)—when there are small departments who aren’t aligned in their internal processes.

Every RFP consists of multiple layers, and it’s a collaborative effort that requires manpower and finesse. But those efforts are invested with the hope that the deal will close—even when those chances are slim.

But sometimes, even when you have the time and resources to respond, an RFP comes along that your company ultimately decides not to respond to. And, that’s because that other company is asking for too much.

I’ll share a little RFP story with you to show you what I mean…

This company asked too much of their RFP process

Another company (who shall remain unnamed) came to us, because they were looking for a better solution to help them manage a specific area of their business.

Instead of focusing on solving the problem, they decided to involve different business units to see if they could get all of them into a single software platform. Since each of the business units had competing interests, the RFP was a complete mess.

Mainly they were asking for something that didn’t exist. By the end of the call there were only a few vendors left, many of which were overstating their capabilities.

To be honest, they were using the RFP process as a means to generate a shopping list. It had nothing to do with evaluating pre-qualified vendors they had researched, with a phone call to know specific answers to outstanding questions. It was clear they just googled a term that brought them to our company and sent out an RFP to anyone they found within that search.

It was the perfect setup for an efficiency disaster, one that could have been avoided with a better process.

This is what will happen to that company

Because none of the vendors can do what this company is asking—except for those claiming they can and are misrepresenting their company—they are in for a wake up call.

This company is missing out on good qualified partners that can fulfill what they need, since they are overreaching and asking for too much. Vendors started dropping off a quarter of the way into the call, as they realized the deal was going to be a mess.

The wasted time and money, not to mention the all-around frustration, means expectations can not be met. As more departments are added, the wish list grows, as does the number of “mandatory” requirements that no solution can solve in one application. The worst case scenario would involve needing to replace the software suite again in a year or two.

How that company can turn things around

Believe it or not, all is not lost for this company. If you’re struggling with a similar situation of asking for the world in your RFP, it’s not too late to change your ways.

  1. Do your research. Figure out the specific problem you are trying to solve by creating a list of needs, and ask your team to weigh in to ensure you’re not overlooking anything. Break them down by priority, so you can focus on specific services that will provide solutions for the most pressing needs.
  2. Honor your budget. Review historical spend data to compare categories and vendors, so you know what to budget and how you want to divvy it up. While collaboration is good, remember to keep business units to a minimum to control scope creep. Involve only key players that will need to be active on the project.
  3. Explore your options. Once you have your priorities, budget, and team defined, create another list for vendor comparison. Check out their website and online reviews to narrow down the list. Before issuing the RFP, talk to potential vendors to decide if they are the best fit for your company without jumping the gun on the process.

Aligning your internal processes is a must well before it’s time for the RFP to go out. If you jump the gun, your company will risk not only spending valuable time and resources, you also won’t find the solution you’re seeking.

Get your team on the same page and know what the end-goal is. That’s the best way to find long-lasting success, and ultimately a better return on investment for your efforts.

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