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Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Responders play a pivotal role in winning new business for enterprise organizations. You are a key team member who wears […]

Category: Tag: Sales enablement solution

Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Responders play a pivotal role in winning new business for enterprise organizations. You are a key team member who wears many hats. From content writer to marketing and sales, you add tremendous worth to your organization’s growth strategy.

Your leadership is particularly apparent in the enterprise sales cycle, where the process is long, complex, and high-stakes. A competitive RFP demonstrates to prospective enterprise clients that you understand their pain points and that you are the organization that adds the most value.

Read on to discover how you can pursue highly lucrative opportunities in the enterprise sales cycle with more efficiency and ease.

What is enterprise sales?

Enterprise sales refer to the acquisition of large contracts that involve a higher level of risk than more traditional sales seen in small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Enterprise sales cycles are long, involving multiple decision-makers that bring about large-scale corporate solutions. Contrast this with SMB sales cycles, that are short, lower risk, and fueled by marketing and sales. Enterprise sales offer solutions that are mission-critical to the success of the enterprise, directly impacting business operations at a strategic level.

In general, the enterprise sales model involves solutions that are highly complex, requiring the brains of various subject matter experts. These large-scale enterprise solutions often necessitate more training and customer support.

The role of RFPs in the enterprise sales cycle

Responding to RFPs plays a crucial role throughout the enterprise sales cycle. Unlike SMB sales that often focus on marketing to win the contract, enterprise sales must address various components, including onboarding, security, support, and automation.

Make no mistake, RFPs always require the input of many different SMEs. This intensive collaboration from subject matter experts is even more apparent and necessary in the case of enterprise sales.

Most RFPs are submitted in the final eight hours before the RFP is due. Of these, 35% are submitted in the final hour. Submitting close to the RFP deadline is fine if your team is taking your time to fine-tune your response content. It’s not fine when you’re figuring out content creation at the last-minute. Your organization could miss out on potentially valuable, highly-lucrative contracts just because you didn’t have time to produce high-quality content and go the extra mile.

Although the enterprise sales cycle is long and the acquisition costs are steep, the rewards are enormous. For these big-ticket proposals, it’s imperative that your enterprise has an efficient RFP response process in place. In doing so, your teams can provide the level of detail required for each proposal to close large-scale accounts.

Proposal software brings ease to the enterprise

Andrea Kameron is an RFP analyst at Reflexis Inc. who integrated RFPIO into her enterprise tech stack. Soon after bringing RFPIO to her organization, her response management team reduced the RFP completion time span by one week. Over the next few months, Reflexis doubled efficiency and submitted twice as many RFPs as before.

With proposal software, Andrea can organize questions into sections so they are presented to internal collaborators in a very clear and straightforward way.

How does this approach help streamline and automate the enterprise sales cycle? It encourages the RFP responder to use content already available in the library, rather than tag-teaming the Q&A content to already time-burdened SMEs across departments.

Here are a few other benefits of using proposal software like RFPIO to support the enterprise sales cycle.

Brand consistency

Brand consistency is one of the most common challenges for RFP responders. Because many different SMEs are involved throughout the enterprise sales cycle, each player has their own idea of what makes for the most attractive font types, headers, and bullet point styles. Proposal software resolves visual inconsistencies, thanks to systematic exporting capabilities.

Multi-dimensional response platform

Unlike traditional proposal software, RFPIO is a response management platform that supports many use cases beyond responding to RFPs. Use RFPIO to respond to any business queries: RFx (RFIs, RFQs, RFPs), statements of work (SOW), security questionnaires, proactive proposals, and sales proposals.

Centralized, collaborative, and compliant

A centralized Content Library allows your team to easily find and repurpose content. Because RFPIO has an unlimited user model, your enterprise team works in a collaborative environment to quickly produce standout content. To maintain compliance requirements, simply set up automated content audit reviews and invite your legal and compliance teams to leverage the platform.

By minimizing the content time investment during the enterprise sales cycle, you’re able to focus on crafting a captivating narrative that speaks to your prospect’s objectives and makes your enterprise solution stand out. Proposal software supports your sales efforts, so you can focus on landing the next big deal with greater efficiency and ease.

Ready to master the enterprise sales cycle? See how RFPIO benefits your enterprise team and supports your sales goals.

Get sales enablement right with RFP response optimization

Get sales enablement right with RFP response optimization

Getting sales enablement right in your organization is a bit of a puzzle. There are many definitions of sales enablement, variability in terms of who is responsible for it (sales vs. marketing), and how exactly to do it.

The purpose of this post is not to go through all that complexity—but to single out a piece that, if done correctly, can deliver real revenue results along with improved operational performance.

That piece is optimizing the Request for Proposal (RFP) response process.

RFPs are about how a customer buys

You will care more about RFPs, the larger the percentage of your opportunities include them. But even if infrequent, optimizing around the response process can deliver impressive results.

RFPs are more about how a customer buys than how a company sells. Most companies focus on how to sell and deploy staff and resources to support that effort, with seller defined deal stages, presentations, and skill sets to create and close opportunities.

High performance companies focus on how their customer buys and they align staff and resources around that process. If you have long sales cycles that take 6-12 meetings and require decision-making by committee, then design for that—not for blunt force lead generation and quick close tactics. That’s just not how your customer buys.

Make the most of every RFP opportunity

An RFP is about the purest definition of how a customer wants to buy from you. So make the most of it.

They have detailed their needs, timeline, and decision-making criteria. Your ability to influence this pre-defined process is around how successfully you follow the request and consistently respond to win.

How do you know if you are responding to win? Most companies don’t.

Often an RFP will be received and someone (sales operations, product management, etc.) will review, assign questions to various people, then work to coordinate all those pieces into a cohesive, polished response. Unfortunately, with that many variables, the process is more focused on completing sections rather than crafting a compelling response.

“RFPs are more about how a customer buys than how a company sells.” – Robert Pease

Optimize the RFP response process to win more

So, how do you optimize the RFP response process and respond to win? To put it simply, focus on how your customer buys and remove any friction in that process. Do everything you can to accelerate the purchase decision, while positioning yourself as the only answer.

Doing that can be distilled down to three focus areas of your RFP response process:

1. Content

The core of any RFP response is the content produced to address requirements, answer questions, and demonstrate how your product or service is uniquely qualified to address the need.

A critical piece here is to coordinate and confirm that the content used is the most recent and most relevant. This requires coordination among marketing, engineering, sales—and just about any other group that has a say in how a product or service is represented externally.

Rather than “recreate the wheel” each time, invest in a content repository that can be managed, updated, and accessed. This ensures the most recent and relevant content is always available. With RFP software, an Content Library works brilliantly for busy sales teams.

2. Consistency

An RFP response is designed to communicate why your product or service should be chosen by the customer. If your company depends on RFP response for even a small fraction of their revenue, consistency in approach—along with production and presentation—are essential.

Consistency will help you produce a quality response and gain the ability to compare wins and losses from the same baseline. If you use different people, copy, diagrams, or even response approach, you make it very difficult to compare the deals you win and lose on an equal basis.

Improving the RFP response process depends on a critical review of not only those deals that result in a win but also those that end in a loss.

3. Conversion

Often we are so focused on completing sections, meeting deadlines, and “shipping” the response that we lose sight of the main objective…to convert.

Is the goal to make a preliminary selection or a final selection? Is it a defined need with a defined timeline and allocated budget? Or is it more of a Request for Information (RFI)? An RFI is used much earlier in the information gathering phase of the sales process versus the actual buying phase.

Focus on the objective first and foremost. If an RFP has multiple response stages, then managing the process internally is even more critical.

Take a scorecard based approach and track conversion rates related to outcomes like: final consideration, invited to present, and actual purchase. Optimize around those responses that lead to conversions and critically evaluate those that don’t.

Knowing why you lost is more important than knowing why you won, so give yourself the highest probable successful outcome with each response.

Mastering the RFP response process is crucial to your sales enablement efforts. It’s also a defined need/process that can be optimized through both discipline and enabling technology.

Start with the process and know who is doing what. Then leverage enabling technology like RFP software to manage and create content, achieve consistency in response, and optimize around conversions.

Make the most of every RFP. It’s the most transparent way a customer will buy from you.

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