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15 RFP responders explain how to craft a winning RFP response

15 RFP responders explain how to craft a winning RFP response

RFP responders and issuers spend a lot of time in a world of documents that determine important business outcomes. Rarely […]

Category: Tag: RFP Response

15 RFP responders explain how to craft a winning RFP response

15 RFP responders explain how to craft a winning RFP response

RFP responders and issuers spend a lot of time in a world of documents that determine important business outcomes. Rarely do these professionals speak candidly with one another about the RFP response process—which is why we brought both parties together here on The RFPIO Blog.

Recently 10 RFP issuers revealed their definition of a standout RFP response. This time we asked RFP responders to chime in with what it takes to craft a winning response. Enjoy this insightful content advice from 15 RFP responders in the trenches.

Content advice from RFP responders in the trenches

Brian Fleming, General Counsel and Proposal Management Specialist at CaseWorthy

It starts with an excellent executive summary. Know exactly what the client is struggling with (current state) and what they seek to accomplish with the procurement (future state). The executive summary should have a simple structure that addresses how the vendor’s solution will not only accomplish the future state but exceed even the loftiest of future state aspirations.

The rest of the proposal should use the executive summary as a jumping off point for explaining how the vendor’s solution will be the best choice, all the while erring on the side of brevity and responsiveness with the supplemental strategies needed to win the deal.

Hope Sutton, Marketing Communication Coordinator at Alera Group

Excellent RFPs are driven by personalization. From the cover page to the content inside, the entire RFP needs to be prospect/client centric. Going the extra mile to show the company that you are tailoring your approach to their needs is a must in today’s competitive market.

David Rynne, Presales Global Content Specialist at Basware

A well-executed executive summary is like a good subject headline. Your executive summary must be personalized for your buyer personas with solutions to their unique challenges, or else it doesn’t give the prospect a reason to read further.

The executive summary is there to position your company as a problem solver that offers multiple benefits and value. The rest of the RFP is structured the same—and reiterates the bullet points of the executive summary, but in more detail.

Erica Taylor, Co-Founding Partner at TINSEL Experiential Design

  • Provide a working project timeline to the clients, which demonstrates the feasibility of your team’s involvement and insight into your team’s process, systems, and action steps.
  • Re-articulate KPIs and success metrics—if applicable, include other measurable data points that might be valuable and prove the ROI of the project.
  • Whether it’s requested or not, share other projects and case studies with proof points that share the same aesthetic style or scope. This helps clients feel secure in the fact that you have the experience and expertise needed to get the job done.
  • Include a section to reflect open questions, which demonstrates that you are thinking deeply and analytically about the project proposed in the RFP.

Tyler Sweatt, Managing Partner at Future Tense

Context and clarity will set your RFP responses apart. Too many organizations respond to RFPs with canned marketing language and limited substance, making evaluation and differentiation extremely difficult.

Contextualize your response to the actual challenges the organization you’re responding to is facing. Show them you understand how your solution must fit into their environment. Make it clear that your solution or approach is credible and relevant through cases studies or supporting data.

Frank Oelschlager, Partner/Managing Director at Ten Mile Square Technologies

To make an RFP response truly stand out, it must not only meet the bar for completeness, content quality, and qualifications—it must also provide detail into both “the what” and “the how.”

The best way to offer this detail is by directly connecting the proposed solution to the various parts of the problem statement and requirements laid out in the RFP. Create a narrative that allows the buyer to visualize their success as a result of your partnership.

Greg Githens, Author at Catalyst & Cadre

The strategic thinking micro skill of empathy is critical to a good response. Make your potential client the hero of the story. Show that you have an adequate understanding of the client and their business environment. Imagine the RFP issuer reading your proposal with a compliance matrix next to them, where they first evaluate whether you understand their needs then how well your offer fits.

Walter Wise, CEO at The BPI Strategy Group

Respond to every requirement, providing the exact information requested, using the format that was requested. Write in layman’s terms, typically 10th to 11th grade level, as that is easy to understand by the evaluators. I don’t use fancy covers, but I do use Johnson Boxes and specific proposal graphics when practical.

Ingrid Christensen, President at INGCO International

  • Give yourself enough time. It usually takes double the amount of time to prepare a quality response than you estimated.
  • Research who is on the decision-making panel and figure out their pain points. Customize your proposal to hit all the details requested in the RFP and tailor your communication to address all pain points.
  • Take time to read, reread, and reread again. Make sure you have several team members review the entire document.
  • Deliver at least a day early. You don’t want all of your hard work to go down the drain because your RFP didn’t arrive on time.

Rafe Gomez, Co-owner at VC Inc. Marketing

Don’t feature verbose, unnecessary, or extraneous components that make absolutely no sense from a selling perspective. You don’t need to tell the whole story—just tell enough to hook your prospect. By describing the exclusive benefits your organization can deliver as quickly, concisely, and convincingly as possible…you’ll have greater potential to win the deal.

Diane Callihan, President at Callihan Content Creation

I always feel a bit sorry for the person who has to wade through a number of RFP responses, because they are typically so dry and boring. To stand out, I make my RFP responses fun to read—not being afraid to include some personality, attitude, and humor. My agency was awarded a large project, and the client said it had a lot to do with the fact that my proposal made them laugh.

Joe Marchelewski, Sr. Account Manager at Juris Productions PR

Being meticulous with the response is absolutely necessary. Do your homework on the company. What exactly are they asking? Who has represented them in the past? What kinds of clues can you find from their prior representation? RFP responses need context. Context only comes from understanding…which only comes from research.

Ken Gaul, Director at Source One

Understand that there is a certain amount of “checking the box” that needs to be done. Answer the face value question concisely, then springboard into your solution to the question(s) behind the question. Beyond what your prospective customer is asking you for, what should they be thinking about?

To rise to the top of the scorecard, you need to be competitively priced but you also need the prospect to feel that you understand their challenges innately, and that you can guide them to the ideal solution. The premise is that your solution is the ideal one, and they just don’t know it yet.

This is, of course, assuming that you’ve already done your due diligence and qualified the opportunity. Is the person running the RFP going to properly represent your solution to the true decision makers? If not, maybe pass on it. Your time is better spent on prospects with whom you can develop a relationship.

Tamara Van Meter, Firm Principal and Head of Interior Design at SMBW

  • Follow their lead. Use the client’s RFP format, including the order and terminology, to make it easy for them to read and evaluate.
  • Incorporate performance results from past projects to demonstrate the value you bring to the table.
  • Avoid oversaturating each page with text. A good practice with proposal formatting is to use photographs or graphics with no more than three supporting points for a clear and succinct message.

Lisa Rehurek, Founder and CEO at The RFP Success™ Company

Give prompts to your technical writers for each question. Make it easy for them to give you what you need, and help them in the process. Prompt them with how to answer the question with more detailed questions, or provide them with a table that outlines exactly what information you want them to provide. This keeps them focused, it gives you more consistency across multiple technical writers, and it makes the process simpler on them.

Looking for ways to improve team collaboration for stronger RFP responses? Start using RFPIO to craft winning content with your team.

Healthcare RFPs: Build trust through authentic storytelling

Healthcare RFPs: Build trust through authentic storytelling

“96% of top-performing marketers agree their organizations have built credibility and trust with their audience.” So, why should healthcare RFPs be any different?

A written document like a request for proposal may not appear to have the same pizzazz. However, an RFP response holds just as many creative possibilities as other types of content you produce. Additionally, healthcare RFPs are a revenue-generating opportunity with the potential to make a positive impact.

Healthcare continues to evolve rapidly while newer, more advanced organizations rise up to take hold of the industry. With that acceleration and competition, there is more pressure for your marketing team to perform.

RFP responses provide an opportunity to stand out in your evolving, competitive industry. With a focus on authentic storytelling in your healthcare RFPs, you’ll build more trust and increase your win potential.

“When you’re in the healthcare industry, you’ll be competing against other firms that have a lot of the same experience and knowledge that you have. You can all do the job and meet the requirements of the RFP. But how are you going to really stand out? One word: Trust.” – Lisa Rehurek,  Founder of The RFP Success™ Company

Healthcare marketing complexity with content creation

Healthcare marketers experience similar challenges to peers in other industries. The major difference is an added layer of complexity, thanks to strict compliance and heavy regulations. This has a direct impact on the content you create, including RFP responses.

Marketing Manager of TheraSpecs, Greg Bullock said his top content challenges are:

1. Communicating medical information in an authoritative way…with a user-friendly approach.

Medical content can be cumbersome, confusing and ultimately frustrating for the end user, which requires brands to communicate information in an approachable way. If you simplify too much, you lose the authority and expertise that is critical to establishing a strong reputation.

2. Keeping information medically up-to-date and accurate.

Generally, it is always a challenge to regularly update content and ensure that the information is still accurate. However, healthcare organizations have particularly unique issues given the wealth of new medical studies and anecdotal expertise that emerges regularly.

When responding to RFPs, you likely see similar content challenges arise. You need to make sure content is current and correct. You must strike the right balance between competence and conversation. You need to have branding that is clear and consistent.

Hit all of these marks and you are on your way to demonstrating why you are the partner they can trust. 95% say that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to be loyal patrons.

Building trust and credibility in healthcare RFPs

“When you’re in a highly technical industry like healthcare, there’s more to what you can bring to the table than just the specifications and requirements of the RFP. Healthcare companies and entities are under a lot of stress to keep up with regulations, compliance issues, stakeholder involvement, political ramifications, the list goes on.”

Lisa Rehurek, founder of The RFP Success™ Company and host of The RFP Success Show, has experienced the complexities of healthcare RFPs firsthand. She has long been a champion of responding to RFPs. Lisa continually encourages any organization bidding on RFPs to excel at building trust over and above their competitors.

“Yes, they’re looking for specific knowledge and expertise, but they also want a lifeline. Weaving in stories, writing in a more conversational tone, being authentic in your response to really get to the emotion of it, will help them visualize that you will be that lifeline. And with that, they can exhale. Trust is built.”

RFPs in healthcare: Bring your authentic voice forward

As a marketer, you’re creative by nature. If you look at your other marketing campaigns, you unearthed stories to communicate more authentically with your audience. You can achieve the same with your RFP content.

Ready to bring your brand’s authentic voice forward? Give these RFP components your full attention to build trust with your prospect and make their buying decision easier.

  • Cover Letter – Reveal key benefits they will experience while working with you and show your excitement for this future partnership. Use the client and company name often to personalize.
  • Executive Summary – Hook them with an opening statement about your solutions and explore the backstory of your company: mission, history, and purpose. (Once again, use the client and company name often.)
  • Our Approach – Explain your methodology and how your solution benefits your customers. Include relevant customer stories or testimonials for validation, focusing on the process and results.
  • Competitive Differentiators – Call out why they should work with you instead of one of your competitors, using comparison data and visual aids. It’s not a time to bad-mouth your competitor—just show you are the best choice.
  • Support / Customer Service – Highlight customer support offerings (help center, ongoing training, or educational webinars, etc). Insert customer story or testimonial that talks about their experience working with your team.
  • Brand Consistency – Not a section per se…brand consistency must be strong throughout. From messaging to design language, “on brand” content helps you earn trust.

Working in healthcare marketing is not a pass to create content without a pulse. Yes, you need to meet specifications and requirements. And sometimes, messaging might seem a little flat compared to more provocative industries.

At the end of the day, the goal is to show the human side of your brand and build a high level of trust with your prospect. Challenge yourself to make your healthcare RFPs better—more relatable, more relevant. Every RFP response is your chance to have a genuine conversation and to tell a story.

A response management platform ensures you have your best storytelling moments readily available. Schedule a demo of RFPIO to make a bigger impact on your next healthcare RFP.

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.

13 techniques that will speed up your RFP response time

13 techniques that will speed up your RFP response time

I talk to subject matter experts every day, and they all want one thing: More time. Some SMEs even wish they had more hours in a day. The thing is…you have enough hours in your day for RFP responses, you just need to improve your time management techniques.

Ready to help your revenue team in an efficient way? Check out several techniques for speeding up your RFP response time, so you can fully support your organization’s revenue vision and move on with your day.

Speed up your RFP response time with these techniques

“Running away from a problem only increases the distance from the solution.” Though anonymous, this quote may have come from a seasoned RFP responder. Let’s take a step back to understand where time management opportunities are within your RFP response process.

1. Understand the scope of the project

Miss important details present in the scope and you will inevitably rewrite RFP responses. Knowing the scope upfront allows you to focus on creating informative, accurate content. The goal is to appease their evaluation team and show that your organization is the right partner.

2. Understand how to track clarifications back to the issuer

Is it appropriate for you to reach out to the issuer for clarification? Or, is your proposal manager or sales director running communications back-and-forth between you and the potential client? Figure this out. Questions will come up, and you want to get the content right during round one.

3. Understand your response time

Are you tracking and monitoring your response time? If not, start doing it. That way you can build a case for additional resources or technology to support you and your workload. There are plenty of time-tracking solutions out there. RFPIO even has one built into the platform.

4. Understand who is involved in the response management team

Teamwork is the name of the game. When everyone is clear on responsibilities—and who they are collaborating with—the RFP response process is more streamlined. If you don’t have a dedicated proposal manager, find out who owns the project in case you need help.

5. Understand if other departments need to get involved

From security to legal, there will be times when you call upon the subject matter expertise of people in other departments. Even when you know the questions and scope early on, unknowns appear as you craft RFP responses. Have your experts ready to be pulled in quickly.

6. Understand how everyone communicates

Email isn’t always the best channel since inboxes are crowded. Communication channel preferences should be agreed upon by everyone on the response management team, including you. Maybe that’s a monthly meeting or a Slack group, instead of lengthy email conversations.

7. Understand if there are any additional tasks

Responding to RFPs is an ongoing task, but occasionally other needs show up—like performing research or analyzing the market. When you are involved in a new RFP project, ask if your team requires additional information so you can get a headstart on these tasks.

8. Understand the questions

If you don’t understand the questions when you jump into the RFP project, you will end up in a longer review cycle later. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, either from your proposal manager—or sales, if you need more background about the organization you are responding to.

9. Understand what content is relevant

Content audits are really helpful here—and we recommend culling your library of RFP responses once per quarter. While a proposal manager will likely own content audits, you will update any content that falls under your area of expertise to ensure accuracy.

10. Understand that you can repurpose content

You want to have the best possible content, but it doesn’t have to be completely original. If you store common RFP responses in an answer library, you can easily grab that content and customize for the current RFP requirements and specifications.

11. Understand the review cycle process

The review cycle process can be confusing with RFP responses. Know the chain-of-command so you don’t duplicate work. Your proposal manager should assign questions accordingly. However, if you notice gaps in the process that are causing confusion, speak up.

12. Understand your content management strategy

Effectively managing content decreases your RFP response time. Most SMEs store responses in docs and spreadsheets, using Control+F to find the response, then copying and pasting. An answer library within RFP software is the quickest way to organize, manage, and execute.

13. Understand the impact of technology

Software quality has a major impact on employee happiness. 96% said they would be more satisfied at work with access to better software. But, as we know from our RFP Response Habits survey, only 16% use RFP software. Get a response management solution in place if you don’t have one. This is one of the best time-saving tips we can offer.

Providing expertise for RFP responses is a key part of your role. By contributing to the response management process, you’re showing that you care about your team, your work, and your organization.

RFPIO helps subject matter experts cut their response time down by 40%-50% on average. Schedule a demo and we’ll show you more ways to save time and do your best work.

Unify your revenue team with a response management platform

Unify your revenue team with a response management platform

The rise of the revenue team continues and mid-size organizations are leading the charge. When it comes to revenue responsibilities, the lines have become blurred between marketing and sales departments. Now, the rest of the organization is responsible for contributing to revenue as well.

The response management process is a key revenue-generating initiative for growing companies. To succeed, all of these teams need to work effectively together. A response management platform is here to unify your revenue team and position your organization for growth.

Response management opportunities for mid-size companies

Responders at mid-size companies are team members who respond to business queries like RFPs (Requests for Proposal), security questionnaires, and DDQs (Due Diligence Questionnaires). They both contribute and manage this process, often in addition to their primary job responsibilities.

With response management at mid-size organizations, roadblocks fall into two distinct buckets…

1. They lack X – Commitment, knowledge, an internal champion, support outside the organization

2. The cost of X – Services, resources, operations

Knowledge is a powerful asset for any organization, especially a mid-size organization where you have a combination of specialists and generalists with a multitude of experiences and backgrounds. These resources are valuable and cost the organization.

If a subject matter expert (SME) moves on from your organization, they take a wealth of company knowledge with them. This leaves your response team at a great disadvantage as they lose an important resource that contributed to the process.

Once these internal roadblocks are recognized, they become opportunities for improvement. A response management solution like RFPIO offers a collaborative atmosphere, turning teams into tribes.

Mid-size revenue teams keep the ship afloat

Revenue teams operating under a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) are becoming increasingly common within B2B organizations. Rapidly growing mid-size companies have set the standard for modern revenue teams. All other companies, from startups to enterprise, are playing by the rules set by revenue teams at mid-sized organizations.

A revenue team involves anybody who is contributing to the revenue of the company. This seems like a broad definition, because it is. It doesn’t go as granular as negative revenue, even revenue, or positive revenue—it’s revenue in general.

Revenue teams might include managers in customer success or accounts working side-by-side with executives like a CFO or CRO. In mid-size organizations, marketing teams and sales teams (including sales ops and sales enablement) are considered part of the revenue team as well.

Similar to keeping a ship afloat in the sea, revenue takes contributions and effort from everyone. To bring in revenue and maintain revenue, it’s essentially an “all hands on deck” situation. Being that responding to RFPs and security questionnaires is a predictable step in the sales cycle, this process needs to be rock-solid for mid-size companies to achieve their revenue goals.

How a response management platform offers support

Let’s reinforce the two challenge buckets for responders at mid-size companies for a second. You’re experiencing a lack of commitment, knowledge, an internal champion, and/or support outside the organization. On top of that, you’re dealing with the cost of services, resources, and/or operations.

Other revenue teams have been in your shoes too. But, they saw those challenges in their response management process as opportunities and made that process easier with RFPIO.

Uniformity and accuracy

RFPIO’s answer library is the bread and butter for response teams. This knowledge repository brings uniformity and accuracy to how a company represents itself in any business query response.

Teams across the organization will benefit from a centralized access point to company information. It goes beyond sales enablement, enabling anyone who needs to efficiently find up-to-date content to get the job done. The use cases are pretty endless.

Edit and enhance

RFPIO Lookup takes the strength and capabilities of the answer library a step further. Rather than being inside the platform, you quickly search for the response with a Chrome extension.

Let’s say you call in a field person to answer a security questionnaire, who doesn’t work inside the response management platform. They use RFPIO Lookup to access the knowledge repository from their browser to select accurate, technical responses. Instead of creating content from scratch or hunting down previous responses, now that person has extra time to edit and enhance the response.

Ease and visibility

RFPIO’s integrations are well-loved by revenue teams. Store all of your content inside the response management platform, using cloud storage integrations with your favorite cloud storage solutions (Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, Box, and Sharepoint). Collaboration is necessary for any response management team—Slack and Microsoft Teams integrations simplify communication.

Salespeople operate business as usual with RFPIO’s CRM integrations (Salesforce, Hubspot, Microsoft Dynamics, Pipedrive, PipelineDeals). If you’re a sales operations manager, you need to provide visibility into how you’re winning RFPs and DDQs to the C-level team from time to time. Within Salesforce, you can easily run these reports.

Alexandra Maddux

“At Smarsh, we believe our proposals set the stage for an ongoing partnership and raise the bar on what it means for a vendor to exceed expectations. In 2018, the sales enablement team submitted nearly 30 more RFPs/RFIs compared to 2017 and is expecting the same trajectory for 2019. RFPIO allows our team to juggle upwards of 10 projects at a time, in tandem with maintaining the required level of organization to be successful and quality we demand, all while collaborating within the platform across 5 different time zones.”- Alexandra Maddux, RFP/Sales Support Coordinator

When you have a group of responders working together to achieve the same revenue vision, not only is this less stressful, this positive mentality impacts the company’s overall success. Your revenue team will become more unified in achieving that vision with a response management platform. It’s a win-win for everyone.

So…what are you waiting for? Book a demo of RFPIO to unify your revenue team.

5 tactics for developing brand consistency in response management

5 tactics for developing brand consistency in response management

Today’s buyer is very selective when the time comes to purchase a product or service. Buyers not only expect more from brands, they also like to know what to expect. Why is every Target store set up the same? Why does McDonald’s feel familiar no matter what country you’re in? Because those well-known companies have mastered brand consistency.

Organizations that get this know that creating a consistent user experience helps customers and clients easily find what they need. Brand consistency is the foundation for a positive user experience because it delivers a sense of comfort and familiarity. This concept applies to B2C and B2B organizations—small, mid-sized, and enterprise.

Brand consistency is a key factor in the ultimate success of your response management process, whether you are submitting an RFP (request for proposal), SOW (statement of work), security questionnaires or other form of proposals. Let’s dig into several ideas that will help you create a more consistent brand experience throughout the sales process.

Brand consistency techniques for better response management

The average revenue increase attributed to always presenting the brand consistently is 23%. Establishing brand consistency within the response management process allows companies to scale faster.

To build a cohesive brand experience in your response management process, everyone involved in responding to business queries should be aligned by a strategy. Brand consistency is a technique. And like any technique, it takes dedication to master it.

1. Create a messaging framework.

You have a messaging framework for all other marketing content. Your response management process should be treated with the same approach. Often this is not the case, as marketing teams fly into the process much later during review and finalization of the deliverable.

Every marketer should be prepared to put out fires, but that means being prepared well before the fire begins. Proactively create a one-page messaging strategy for each type of business query your team responds to. To serve as a reminder, be sure to include the goal of what your content hopes to achieve at the very top.

2. Optimize your most repetitive responses.

RFP issuers typically ask similar sets of questions, with perhaps a few variations or wild cards along the way. There is no need to create content from scratch every time you respond to a business query. In fact, reinventing the wheel with responses leads to brand consistency challenges.

Repurposing content is perfectly acceptable, assuming you go the extra mile by tailoring the response to address each prospect’s goals and needs. You know the repetitive questions already. Spend time perfecting these responses, so they are optimized and ready to go. And audit this content quarterly, versus setting and forgetting.

“Successful branding yields benefits such as increased customer loyalty, an improved image, and a relatable identity.” – TSL Marketing

3. Standardize information with brand guidelines.

Brand guidelines act as the North Star in standardizing all of your organization’s communication efforts. Yet, typically the response management process tends to go rogue and operate outside these guidelines your marketing team has painstakingly developed.

Contributors from multiple departments respond to questions in an RFP, using their favorite fonts. Headers and lists are mismatched—and you end up with a huge formatting mess. Keep your cool and remember that responders like SMEs and salespeople aren’t nearly as connected to the brand as you are. Make sure responders have a copy of brand guidelines and that they understand how to implement them in everyday situations.

4. Store all content in an accessible location.

Knowledge sharing in our content-driven world is becoming an increasing challenge for organizations. Cloud storage solutions can only do so much. Everyone has their own way of organizing folders and files, leaving a maze of content to navigate.

The best way to create a “grab and go” option with company information is to keep it accessible in one location—preferably an answer library in a response management platform. An answer library stores brand-approved content, allowing responders to quickly hunt down information through searches or filters. And, you get to have a much better handle on brand consistency.

5. Automate your response management process.

Responding to business queries is a notoriously time-consuming activity for you and other contributors. Automating with strong technology really opens the door to a repeatable and scalable process.

A response management platform like RFPIO automates everything, helping teams cut their response time by 40%-50% on average. Even if responders get wildly creative with formatting, you can export into a custom branded template in seconds then perform a quick sweep of the document. Automation frees up your time to produce the highest quality deliverable possible—and, of course—move on to other priorities on your to-do list.

Brand consistency holds a ton of value in steering your approach to response management. How you present these sales documents to a prospect influences whether a potential client becomes your future client…or your competitor’s client.

You already know that people who love your brand then become advocates for your brand. Creating a positive feeling through content that is “on brand” has the power to build relationships and earn trust. It’s time to cultivate a positive brand experience with your response management process too.

Achieving brand consistency is a cinch with RFPIO. Schedule a demo right here and we’ll get you all set up for success.

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.

The 6-step IT RFP response subject matter expert guide

The 6-step IT RFP response subject matter expert guide

The IT sector is highly competitive and innovation is the currency that separates successful technology companies from the rest. Maintaining innovation was even revealed as one of the top 5 challenges the tech industry needs to be prepared for.

Tech industry organizations must maintain a balance, continually innovating to gain a competitive edge with their products or services while using the latest technologies for optimizing their internal operations.

As a Subject Matter Expert (SME) at a technology company, your expertise is often called upon to help maintain that balance. It is especially valuable when new business is on the table and your knowledge elevates the quality of an IT RFP response.

In the following IT RFP response guide, you’ll learn the most efficient methods for contributing to your organization’s success. The next time your expertise is summoned for an RFP, you’ll be ready.

The IT RFP response guide for SMEs

1. Show more value to your revenue team

What’s the main difference between top-performing SMEs and average SMEs? They show more value by directly contributing their expertise to the organization’s revenue-generating objectives.

Responding to RFPs is one of the key opportunities for winning new business. Revenue teams include people from sales, marketing, support, and customer success. An SME at a technology company is also part of this revenue team. Their contributions are needed to refine details that can influence a deal.

You’re busy. Revenue is only part of your overall responsibilities. If you are willing to make time to contribute to revenue-generating objectives like RFPs, you’ll show more value to both your revenue team and your organization.

2. Make the process more efficient with technology

On the heels of participation in the process comes a willingness to make the process better than before. Technology is often the missing ingredient for continued innovation. Ironically, technology organizations and IT teams are stuck in the old, manual way of response management. They live in spreadsheets and Google folders instead of a technologically advanced platform.

A response management platform like RFPIO saves companies time and resources when they are responding to ANY type of business query. That business query could be an RFx (including RFPs, RFIs, etc.) or any form of security questionnaires (Security Questionnaires Lite, VSAQ, CAIQ, VSA, etc.). That business query could also be the repetitive technical questions you receive from your sales team.

No matter the type of response, using technology like a response management platform offers a single login application for you to quickly locate, filter, and populate the answers to these questions. It also integrates with popular solutions (like Slack, Salesforce, Sharepoint, and Microsoft Teams) to improve collaboration.

Discover Your Time-Savings Potential with Our ROI Calculator

3. Communicate to keep the RFP project on target

Often you are the one creating highly technical content within an RFP response. Be clear on the requirements so you understand exactly what the issuer needs to know. If you reuse an older response that doesn’t meet that requirement, then you might affect your organization’s chances of capturing new business.

Being that the tech space is so competitive, another company is typically right behind yours all the way through the sales process. Before diving into your response or section, clarify the details and language with your proposal management lead—or connect with the issuer directly.

4. Position your organization as a security expert

Security-related questions are becoming an everyday occurrence in the high-tech space. Because you’re the technical subject matter expert, security questionnaires inevitably end up “on your desk.” While these can be daunting documents, it’s also easy to understand that the issuer is only doing their due diligence before committing to a vendor partnership.

To put your potential partner at ease, you’ll want to show that your organization takes their security seriously by taking security questionnaires seriously. Since these vendor assessments often have hundreds of questions, your best bet is to lean on a response management platform to bulk-answer and import/export smoothly.

“RFPIO helped us build a scalable, repeatable process for handling a large number of RFPs, IT security questionnaires, due diligence forms, and vendor applications. This system allows us to easily invite multiple contributors, authors, SMEs, and reviewers at a Project, Section, and Questions level.” – Gavin O’Donoghue, Global RFP Manager at Cision

5. Participate in the review workflow

Before you are brought into the RFP response process, a typical RFP has been touched by a group of people, possibly including: a proposal writer, a proposal manager, a sales manager, and a marketing manager. It’s your responsibility to ensure relevancy and accuracy with technical responses whenever a non-SME drafts the content first.

The review process can be confusing and you may not know where your place is within that workflow. Rather than skipping the review cycles in favor of other priorities, be the SME that establishes some ground rules so everyone is clear on timing. If your organization is missing an RFP response process, use this one as your guide.

6. Keep the best content relevant

Over time, every business evolves. But a technology company evolves even faster. Successful response management is rooted in consistent content management. Having a centralized knowledge repository is a step in the right direction. Maintaining that repository is the next—often forgotten—step.

RFPIO offers an answer library for storing and organizing all of your responses. A quarterly content audit should be performed to keep company information updated. To audit your content consistently, simply set up custom reminders at a cadence of your choosing.

Even if you have a proposal manager who handles content audits, that person will not know the latest technical info like you do. By stepping in to regularly help with content audits, you’ll make the process faster the next time a business query arrives. Content will be current, so you can customize and plug in responses without starting with a blank page.

Now that you have the IT RFP response guide in your hands, let’s show you how a response management platform like RFPIO helps you succeed in your role. Schedule a demo right here.

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.

Using the RFP process to improve content effectiveness

Using the RFP process to improve content effectiveness

Our latest for The Marketing Scope, by: Ganesh Shankar (RFPIO) and Lori Coffae (SHI, International)

Do you develop content once and then walk away forever? Are your customer needs exactly the same from year to year? In your dreams maybe, but in reality, we all know those are ridiculous questions to even ask. As a marketer, you know your company’s content is never static. It gets developed, reworked, and revised constantly. Content requires attention, consideration and testing. It’s no simple task to stay on top of steady change and making sure that you are improving your content effectiveness as well as keeping sales teams up to date.

For many companies, the intersection where marketing content meets the field organization is the request for proposal, or the RFP. If you work in a company that responds to a large number of RFPs, one surprisingly effective way to curate, manage and share content – one that is often overlooked – is through this very process: the RFP response.

The RFP response process can give marketers a chance to gain valuable feedback from your most important audience – your potential customers – on the impact of the company’s content. Sound like a stretch? Today, proposal managers (professionals who own the RFP response process for a company) gain deep insight into the content that leads someone to action compared with content that doesn’t initiate any type of result. Put simply, marketers can use the RFP process to improve content effectiveness.

Taking advantage

The RFP process can help create cohesion to your content across a variety of elements like voice, message development, and tone. When content is moved to a centralized answer library, you can start to compare and assess content effectiveness based on what really matters – win rates. This assessment is enabled through the use of response management software with an intelligent, centralized answer library. With such a system in place, marketing and sales teams can begin to learn the effectiveness of various messages with different types of customers, helping shape future responses in unexpected ways.

Marketers can use the RFP process to ensure that sales teams are armed with the latest answers – even technical content – reducing the need to call a scarce resource like a technical expert every time.

When integrated into sales tools like Slack or Salesforce, an answer library becomes a single source of truth for responses to customers. Having a repository of content to address specific questions becomes an increasingly valuable asset over time. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel every time your company responds to an RFP or launches a new email marketing campaign, they can go into the content repository to tap into the strength of your most powerful content.

In addition, marketing leaders can cultivate accountability, ownership and responsibility for teams owning the content. Marketers can assign someone on the team to be a reviewer of a particular piece of the content. This way, the rest of the team has visibility into who added or edited the content, changes that were made and when. With a good content library, you’ll see who is working on what content, and you can assign a moderator to ensure facts are facts and company branding is on point.

Take measure

A good first step is to set aside a few hours to review all of the materials in your content library. Why? Because identifying and using your best content will improve your chances of winning RFPs. But for marketers, the key is understanding the nuances of how content resonates with target audiences. A good rule of thumb is to do a content audit at least once a year to keep your content fresh and increase content effectiveness.

Marketing owns a company’s brand and the key messages that can be delivered through a variety of channels including the website, social media, white papers, case studies, YouTube, public relations and email campaigns. Once you have a better idea of which content is valuable, you’ll be in a much better position to update your content library so that everyone in the company is able to provide consistent messages to your audiences.

When you review your content, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the content address your customer’s business challenges?
  • Is the value that your company’s products or services offer coming across clearly?
  • Does the content read well? Does it tell a cohesive story?
  • Is the tone of the content consistent throughout all of your marketing materials?
  • Has the content performed well in RFPs over the past year? How much interest has there been?

Final thoughts: It’s like gardening

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, content is never static. It requires attention, consideration, and cultivation. It’s like being a gardener where your content answer library acts as your greenhouse, housing your content, keeping it protected from the elements, and providing it a fertile environment in which to grow. By thinking about your precious content like a garden, you’re being sensitive to its environment – what grows in Florida doesn’t work in upstate New York.

While the RFP team may reach out to the leaders of the marketing department to participate in an RFP, marketing executives should also see the opportunity that an RFP presents to fine-tune marketing content and messaging and increase content effectiveness.

Increase your RFP success rate with relationship selling

Increase your RFP success rate with relationship selling

RFPs are a competitive knock-out sport: there’s only one winner who makes it to the podium. In my long experience as a senior account executive, there are ways to get an edge. Most elite sportsmen have some inside technique that just gives them a tiny advantage, but enough to win. I’m going to tell you my secrets for winning your next RFP.

The RFP has to show how you are the best fit for the job, right? That all starts with focusing on the relationship you have with your prospect.

Since Q4 is coming to a close, you need to make—or better yet—exceed your sales targets. It’s time to refocus on your prospect, so you can increase your RFP success rate and reach your sales goals.

Why do organizations lose RFPs?

That’s a big question, but here are some things I see consistently happening with organizations. The reasons are actually very simple…

  1. They don’t give themselves enough time.
  2. They don’t tailor their content.
  3. They don’t send the final draft.

As you have probably experienced firsthand, the time issue has an avalanche effect on everything else. The RFP quality just isn’t where it needs to be to win. There are so many people involved in an RFP response process. If you’re not on top of the process, it will show.

Part of the solution is improving your RFP response process as a whole. The other part of the solution falls in your court when you’re in sales. A couple of mistakes here and there might be overlooked if you have an established relationship with the prospect ahead of time.

A big reason why organizations win RFPs? They built a solid relationship.

Why the relationship is vital for RFP success

Establishing a relationship gives you the edge over your competitors. It also helps your potential client understand you, your product or service, and what’s in it for them. They’re not coming into this RFP blind. They will already have a knowledge of your product, personnel, and skills and they can see the benefits more clearly.

Ever heard of relationship selling? Hubspot describes it best…

“Relationship sellers prioritize their connection with the customer over all other aspects of the sale. They develop trust—usually by adding value and spending a lot of time with prospects—before attempting to close.”

It’s key to have a relationship ahead of time—at the very least to have had one conversation so you know where this RFP is coming from. If you receive an RFP out of the blue, contact the person issuing it and find out the background.

Is the opportunity worth pursuing? Or is this one of those situations where the issuer simply needs some bids to fill a procurement quota? Once you’ve decided to continue forward, it’s time to gain as much information as possible so you can start your RFP at a distinct advantage.

Research absolutely matters for your RFPs

Be diligent in your research. Increasing your RFP win rate involves a little homework upfront. This helps you make the most out of every conversation you have with a prospect, so you can tailor your RFP responses in the best possible way.

My own research process includes tracking LinkedIn profiles. Usually, there are two people you’re speaking with during the sales process. On LinkedIn, look both of them up and find out how long they’ve been at the company.

Sometimes if your prospect is a newbie, they may see this particular RFP as their big initiative to make an impression. It’s going to be very important that they put a good foot forward during this RFP evaluation process and select the proper vendor.

Put a little extra thought and time into that research phase—and be sure to check their previous companies and roles. When you do your research, it gives you a few more talking points so you can build a little rapport. People tend to respond better when they recognize the extra effort. It’s also easier to follow up with them later on.

Ask great questions to show quick value

From your research, create a list of detailed questions beyond merely the scope of the RFP. There is only so much you can find out with digital detective work. The best way to find out the answer to an unknown is to ask your prospect directly.

“Act like a win for your prospect is a win for you. Together, you’re trying to find the best possible outcome.” – Hubspot

Often times you will discover vital information as I did recently with a prospect. I asked a fairly simple question about their current RFP process to see how our response management platform might fit in. They told me this: “We’re moving to a cloud model and migrating all of our content to SharePoint.”

This helped me understand exactly which features I needed to share about RFPIO so they quickly understood the value of our solution. I didn’t mess around with features they wouldn’t care about.

Knowing these specifics made the conversation worthwhile for both of us. Then, I was able to communicate that sales intelligence to our RFP writers so they could create better content.

After you submit the RFP, follow-up

There are some practical steps you can take to ensure your RFP has the best chance of winning. And, these steps are often missed by organizations because they don’t build a follow-up strategy into the master plan.

This first follow-up step may sound like a no-brainer, but I’ll say it anyway. After you submit your RFP, confirm that the issuer received it. This follow-up is an opportunity to continue the dialog with the decision-maker. That quick email gives them the impression you are eager to do business with them.

Sometimes they don’t let you know you have moved on to the second round promptly, so again a quick call can help. Use that time to briefly reinforce how your service or product plays in with their future plans.

You always need to have a plan for following up, and maybe sending additional information if needed. Think of the issuer’s needs, and you’ll always know what those content assets look like. When you’re proactive about following up, it shows the issuer that you want the deal. So, do what it takes to stay top of mind.

“The main principle underpinning relationship selling is simple: Always think about the long-term impact of your actions.” – Hubspot

RFP software keeps track of the entire deal

From a sales perspective, it’s nice to have a system like RFPIO that allows you to communicate and have a forum to discuss issues internally among your team. RFPIO allows you to keep track of all your notes about the sales process and the deal. Not necessarily just about the content of the submission, but also collating all the other information surrounding the proposal.

One of RFPIO’s most important features for you is Salesforce integration. Since the RFP is being worked on by other people in your organization, tracking progress is key. With RFPIO, just look in your Salesforce dashboard to find out that information quickly and easily.

You want to have a system that can automatically alert you about different tasks and follow-ups and things that you need to do. For example, if I need to send somebody an email in three weeks, there’s zero chance I’m going to remember that unless I have a system in place that alerts me. So, having all sorts of tasks set up within RFPIO is extremely helpful.

Winning RFPs is significant for your company’s bottom line. If you look at the dollar amount of the total projects you could win, it might be huge if you are consistently winning bids with perfectly-tailored proposals.

The relationship is an important part of both your RFP process AND your sales process. Put some time and energy there and you’ll see the pay-off.

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.

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