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How intelligent RFP search saves valuable time for salespeople

How intelligent RFP search saves valuable time for salespeople

Sales enablement tools have become a household name. It’s no longer a question of whether or not your team needs […]


Category: Tag: Sales enablement best practices

How intelligent RFP search saves valuable time for salespeople

How intelligent RFP search saves valuable time for salespeople

Sales enablement tools have become a household name. It’s no longer a question of whether or not your team needs these tools. It’s a question of how to use these tools effectively throughout every aspect of the sales cycle.

20% of lost deals are caused by internal complexity within sales organizations, according to Gartner. One of the biggest obstacles for sales teams to overcome involves their longtime manual process of responding to RFPs.

Searching for ways to protect the time of your sales team? Look no further than RFP software. This sales enablement solution offers intelligent RFP search so you can optimize your responses and your resources.

The high cost of searching manually for RFP responses

Finding response content is a top challenge for busy teams. Every day salespeople spend valuable time hunting around spreadsheets, docs, folders, and emails for response content. This manual RFP response process is costing organizations from both a time and resource perspective.

Let’s say your team responds to 50 RFPs annually. By bringing in a sales enablement tool like RFP software, you can automate many of the tasks your team completes manually today. Annual savings would amount to nearly $57,600 or 480 hours. Much of that effort is being spent searching for previous RFP response content.

If you put your own numbers into our ROI calculator, in seconds you will see how much your sales organization would save through RFP automation.

RFP software is a dedicated sales enablement tool for responders. The solution addresses the common challenge of content accessibility by delivering intelligent RFP search functionality. When you quickly find the content you need, your most valuable resources will save time and be able to focus on other priorities.

RFPIO search commands that save valuable time

An easy way to understand search capabilities within a solution like RFPIO is to think about the way you use Google to find information. The majority of Google searches involve a simple phrase or question. But, did you know there are handy search commands you can use to find specific information even faster?

Called search operators (aka search commands or advanced operators), these special characters and commands extend the capabilities of ordinary text searches. Typically, search operators are used by more advanced Google users—like SEO experts.

With RFP software, search commands are very often underutilized. Because we know just how valuable your time is, here are several RFPIO search commands that will help you better optimize your searches during the RFP response process.

1. Combination search

Combination search is the most commonly used search command by RFPIO users. This search allows you to find response content using a combination of terms—you can have either/or, both, or exclusions.

Let’s say you search for multiple keywords, such as “technical” and “architecture.” Use these all-caps search commands and RFPIO will serve up the most relevant responses from your RFP Content Library:

  • OR – technical OR architecture
  • AND – technical AND architecture
  • NOT – technical NOT architecture

2. Phrase search

The second most commonly used search command is phrase search. This command is simply where you add quotations around a specific phrase you want to find in your Content Library response content.

The search command would look like this:

  • “technical architecture”

“Technical” might be the first word and “architecture” might be the twentieth word. Phrase search automatically pulls these words together to find entire RFP response sections with these two words.

3. Proximity search

Now we get into search commands that are rarely used—with the exception of advanced RFPIO users. Proximity search is similar to phrase search, except that you get even more specific about the proximity or distance between words.

The search command would look like this:

  • “technical architecture”~5

In this search command example, the ~5 means that “technical” and “architecture” are no more than 5 words away from each other. If there are too many words in between the searched keywords, the response would not show up.

4. Stemming

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things in a Word or Google doc is not automatically finding different variations after searching for a root word. In RFPIO, stemming is a default search functionality that shows documents with variations on a root word.

If you search for “correspond,” you will find documents that also include word variations, such as “correspondence” and “corresponding.” Stemming search technology makes finding related words much easier.

The search command would look like this:

  • “correspond”

…and, that’s all you have to do. Since this is a default search setting, RFPIO will show documents that contain the root word and any word variations.

5. Faceted (or filter) search

Faceted (or filter) search is something you already use when you’re shopping on Amazon. For filtering, you might use the sidebar to filter by ratings of 4 stars and above. Faceting is similar to filtering. On Amazon, it asks you if you want to see products by brand (Apple, Sony, etc.)

The search command involves:

  • Check boxes to filter.

In RFPIO, a faceted/filter search will help you get the best RFP response based on your selected filters. As long as you properly organize your Content Library responses by collections, tags, project names, owners, admins, and other customizable categories, simply drill down to find hyper-specific content.

6. Star ratings

Your star content is your team’s favorite RFP response content—these responses are rated manually by your team and/or chosen by the common usage of the content (i.e. responses used more than 5 times).

The search command involves:

  • Sort by star rating.

Sorting by star rating, such as 3 stars and above, means you can find the cream of the crop through a quick selection.

Internal complexity within your sales organization will only keep you from reaching annual objectives. Sales enablement tools like RFPIO support you and your team throughout the sales cycle. Modernize, automate, and simplify…then, nothing will stand in your way when a big opportunity comes along.

Why that sales proposal matters more than you think

Why that sales proposal matters more than you think

If you’re deep into a sales process and seeking feedback from a prospect, any sentence with the word “unfortunately” in it generally doesn’t bode well. “Unfortunately, you weren’t selected.” Or, just as bad: “You were our number one choice, but unfortunately the project budget was cut.”

There is another sentence that fills salespeople with a sense of foreboding: “Please send me a sales proposal.” Or, even worse: “You’re invited to respond to our RFP.”

Why is this? It’s not as if creating a sales proposal is an unusual step. Most sales processes have a “proposing” stage. Surely being asked for a proposal is a positive sign—a buying signal.

There is quite a disconnect happening for sales teams when it comes to prioritizing sales proposals. Which is precisely why we’re here today to show you why that sales proposal matters and should not be ignored.

A sales proposal is not this

A sales proposal serves a very specific function within your sales process. But, let’s start with what it is not.

A sales proposal is not just a price quote. It’s not a marketing slick, a bill of materials, or a statement of work. If all the client has to work with is a price quote, the only information available to compare you with the competition is the cost. That’s a distinct disadvantage if you’re not one of the lower-cost options.

“Even if you’re seeing a ten percent conversion with sales proposals, depending on the cost that goes into creating those, it could be a far more efficient funnel than traditional outbound/inbound demand generation.” – Matt Heinz

Here’s what a sales proposal is

A sales proposal is a selling document designed to move the sales process forward—plain and simple. It should reinforce the work you’ve done throughout the sale process by:

  • Succinctly articulating your understanding of the client’s needs.
  • Outlining measurable business outcomes.
  • Recommending specific solutions.
  • Showing demonstrable ROI.
  • Calling out your relevant experience and differentiation.

It’s likely this proposal will be circulated far and wide within your potential client’s organization. For many stakeholders, this document will be their first interaction with your company. And we all know the importance of first impressions.

Making a good impression with your sales proposal

The goal of your sales proposal is to paint a clear picture of why your prospect should choose to work with you. Help them understand why you are uniquely positioned to address their needs more efficiently or effectively.

To create an impressive sales proposal, your document should be…

  1. Concise – Your sales proposal doesn’t need to be long. Around 4-5 pages will often suffice to get your point across.
  2. Simple – A proposal is a selling document, not a technical document. It doesn’t need to be complex.
  3. PersuasivePersuasive writing is a skill. Use the right tone of voice, avoid jargon or buzzwords, and focus on underlying business drivers.
  4. Personalized – Use the client’s name in a 3:1 ratio versus your organization’s name. The client should feel that this proposal is written for them, not you.
  5. Accuracy – If you are repurposing content from previous proposals, the quality of information quickly degrades. Leave plenty of time for reviewing and polishing.
  6. Visual – Break up the content by making good use of white space with graphics. Adhere to your marketing guidelines for brand consistency.
  7. Attractive – With sales proposals, appearance matters. Take the time to format your document into a presentable deliverable.

Make it look easy with proposal automation software

Why then it is so hard for sales teams to produce a good sales proposal? Because you have to work hard to make it look easy.

Writing something compelling from scratch is daunting and takes people out of their comfort zone. Instead, many will resort to copying and pasting from their last proposal. But quality and personalization will suffer. This is where proposal automation software plays a key part.

An RFP software or response management platform like RFPIO offers the ability to create and maintain a library of persuasively-written, formatted, up-to-date, and approved content. From which (often initiated from within the CRM application), sales teams can generate highly personalized sales proposals.

Using technology to automate your sales proposals allows you to make client-specific content selections to ensure only the relevant issues, outcomes, products, and value-drivers are incorporated. In other words, you quickly develop sales proposals that pack a punch.

You don’t need to become a Pulitzer-winning author or an expert in desktop publishing to impress prospects with your sales proposals. By allowing technology to do the heavy-lifting for you, you’ll “make it look easy” because this process is, in fact, easier with proposal automation software.

See for yourself. Happy to show you around RFPIO…schedule your demo here.

3 sales enablement must-haves that benefit busy teams

3 sales enablement must-haves that benefit busy teams

Frankly, salespeople don’t like to use a lot of tools. And talk of sales enablement technology makes most of us in sales want to run in the other direction.

Sure, we know it’s for a good cause…to support the sales cycle. But the reality is this: how do we spend the hours we have to achieve our revenue goals?

It’s common for salespeople to be set in their ways when it comes to getting the job done—you can pretty much multiply that by ten when you’re talking about your senior sales reps. Adopting new technology is seen as a source of friction by most people on your sales team, regardless of age, because they don’t have time to learn a new tool.

To sales, learning time takes them away from selling time. But sales also spends too many hours on administrative tasks, and there are tools that can lighten up the operational load.

Take RFP responses, for example—a classically time-consuming task that most salespeople will avoid at all costs. We sometimes get a “taste of our own medicine” around here and respond to RFPs. Thankfully, I get to use our software whenever an RFP comes in. One time I had to answer 45 questions under a tight deadline and I pulled it off in 20 minutes. Tools like that are alright in my book.

And, that brings us full circle.

Salespeople need to adopt some technology to be successful, but not all. So, here are a few sales enablement features that will bring quick, recognizable benefits to even the busiest teams.

Keep sales organized with a content repository

Without a tool to keep sales content centralized, it’s difficult to manage the resources that go into that effort. The point of the content is, of course, to support the sales cycle at various stages in the buying cycle. But an inefficient process can just end up costing companies.

When it comes to RFP responses, having a strong Content Library helps speed up the process tenfold. But the majority of companies are still doing this process manually in spreadsheets. This is where automated technology helps organize existing content—and even autosuggest answers—to save teams time.

A helpful sales enablement feature like this can also be used beyond the main purpose of the tool. Since many of the questions being asked in RFPs are identical in the sales cycle, one of our clients used the Content Library to provide his sales team with quick access to information that expedited the sales process.

So, it also comes down to how you take advantage of these tools to get more mileage out of them. Sales technology is always stronger with a strategic mind behind it.

Keep sales in the tools they know with integrations

Salespeople typically accept one tool, the CRM. But the CRM alone is not enough for sales enablement. I can tell you as a sales guy, that I don’t want to worry about a new tool.

So I completely understand when our prospects say they prefer to stay in the tool they’re already using…Salesforce.

Integrations limit the amount of tools sales has to log into. Since we all know about the tendency for salespeople to rebel against new technology, this is the kind of workflow feature your team wants to hear. This might even close the deal with minimal rebuttals.

It’s already like pulling teeth to get sales to update opportunities in Salesforce, right? So imagine adding another tool on top of that for other administrative tasks. Then you start to understand why you’re seeing so much pushback.

If sales can be in one place to update the info across multiple tools, that makes a big difference. A go-to integration like Salesforce with your latest tool will inevitably create a happier team all-around.

Keep sales collaborating with easier communication

Everyone’s jobs are interrelated and the last thing you want at your company are silos. Even salespeople, with their natural aversion to administrative tasks, understand the need to work together to reach the organization’s objectives. They also know if they don’t respond to a request that they will be “hunted down” by other team members until they complete the task.

So yes, collaboration is non-negotiable. But keep in mind that regular communication and meetings fall into the non-selling category for sales. Meaning, they will de-prioritize touch bases related to projects.

Sales enablement technology should equate to less effort with collaboration between team members. Whether it’s a Slack integration or quick way to @-mention users for clarification or questions, easy communication will sit better with sales.

The less teams need to rely on sales for administrative requests is always better, but it’s not the reality of teamwork. Simplifying communication for your salespeople is the middle ground that can keep productivity humming along for all parties.

The most successful sales teams strike a balance with their responsibilities. It’s equal parts time management and limiting distractions. When it comes to sales enablement technology, integrations are key—ditto the simplification of the entire process for smooth user adoption that provides lasting benefits for busy teams.

Keep it simple when you’re looking for that new tool. Your sales team may not be thrilled about the technology when you bring it to your company, but they’ll be on board if it’s ultimately less about work and more about sales. RFPIO makes your sales process easier—schedule a demo to see how.

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