Let’s start with the good news: You have an RFP response process. You’d end up being surprised to know how many businesses don’t even have that. If you don’t have a process yet, i then recommend reading How to create an RFP response process as well.
Now the poor news: It needs work. I could help. Let’s look at how to improve your RFP response process.
First, consider inventory: How are RFPs viewed within your organization?
Before you improve, check out what you have and exactly why. Does your organization view RFPs as a strategic revenue stream or a box to be examined? If the latter, are professional sponsors in place to help you lead the process change?
Change management is real. If past attempts to prioritize RFPs in the product sales process were mishandled, then you can still be feeling the pain. If this will be your first sales process change as it pertains to RFPs, then how it’s managed will be just as important as what is implemented.
One benefit of improving your RFP response procedure now is that salespeople plus customers are more open to modify than they may have been prior to the pandemic. As people quickly adapted to a “new regular, ” Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, mentioned , “We saw 2 yrs of digital transformation within two months. ”
However , if you’re like most organizations, the change will need to take place while maintaining current employees levels. According to our 2021 Standard Report: Proposal Management , 75% of institutions plan to respond to more RFPs in 2021, but just 37% of organizations plan to hire more RFP reaction staff.
5 steps to improving your RFP reaction process
- Only chase RFPs you are able to win
- Focus on content
- Set clear definitions of roles and responsibilities
- Get to know your resources
- Rinse & repeat
Excellence is unattainable. There’s always room for improvement. I have seen organizations improve their RFP response process and see large gains within a year. A single 2-person group successfully responded to 16 RFPs that were piled on top of each other a year after having to push back on the same requirement. Hopefully these tips will help you attain the same kind of results.
Step 1 : Only pursue RFPs you can win
One of the best ways to create your RFP response procedure more effective is to stop throwing away time on unqualified RFPs. Do this by setting up a certification step or a go/no-go choice. Consider the following during this phase:
- What was your level of involvement prior to the RFP being issued? RFPs are not the optimal time for cold phone calls. Odds are definitely better when you’ve been invited to reply to an RFP because sales or presales has developed a relationship with the prospect or perhaps you already responded to a request for information (RFI) or the potential client has done extensive research upon you and your competitors.
- Is your solution a fit? From minimum, it needs to meet the mandatory requirements. Everyone’s agile. Everyone’s flexible. Issuers already know that. You need to be able to prove that you have a battle-tested solution. If proof isn’t required in the RFP, then it will be at onboarding or implementation. RFPs get into the category of “under guarantee, over deliver”; doing the opposite will sabotage future assistance, renewal, and upgrade efforts.
- Does your price match the prospect’ s budget? Of course there’s give and take when considering the opportunity and what it means to your business at this point and in the future. Nevertheless, the issuer will expect your solution to come with everything guaranteed in your response. Whatever the cost to deliver on expectations, make sure you’re being fair to your prospect, your product, as well as your team responsible for supporting those people expectations.
- Is it a strategic fit? RFPs take a large amount of time and effort, but not nearly as much time and effort as onboarding and supporting a customer that doesn’t fit your business or product development strategy. There are few elements more frustrating than submitting and winning an RFP only to find out that you cannot follow through because it’s not a strategic match for you or the issuer.
- Do you have band width? Too often, this particular consideration gets pushed to the side. It’s especially important if you’re responding to unqualified bids! It is completely understandable to want to reply to more RFPs (we found that 72% of companies intend to respond to more RFPs in 2021 than they do in 2020 ). But don’t do it at the expense of response quality or your proposal team’s, sales team’s, and subject matter experts’ valuable time.
Step 2: Focus on articles
Are you working from a content library, or even are you still chasing lower content ad-hoc? If you have a content library, make sure it’s up to date and that content has been cleaned and reusable. Develop articles so that it has the flexibility in order to either be easily personalized or used in its common form. It should all possess a consistent voice to reduce modifying and review time over the back end.
Your content library also needs to have an company structure that helps with searching. With RFP software such as RFPIO, you can use tags, collections, and custom made fields . It might help to organize content to match the structure of the RFPs you receive. What sections do you at all times see? Sections common in many RFPs are:
- Company overview
- Training & execution
- Case Studies
If you’re not using RFP software, organizing your data files and documents this way will help reduce the need to chase straight down content for every new RFP.
Step 3: Arranged clear definitions of functions and responsibilities
Have a project plan that will emphasizes expectations. Someone has to own it and drive this to hold team members accountable in order to deadlines. If you don’t have a full-time proposal manager in place, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better reason to hire a single than to improve and personal your RFP response process.
Initiate a kickoff meeting for every reaction to discuss strategy and expectations with the entire response team. Surface scheduling conflicts, articles gap concerns, or difficulties with deadlines to avoid surprises. Discover a way to obtain visibility over the whole procedure .
Step four: Get to know your resources
The better you know your resources, the better you are in going to the right person at the right time. Establish their particular preferred communication channel and respect it. RFPIO offers integrations with several stations to make it easier, including email, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Search engines Hangouts, and Jira. Maybe you have an SME who cannot stand writing. Call him up and have him talk away the answer, then you write it out. Putting in the work to build relationships with your sources will pay off at crunch time.
Step 5: Rinse & do it again
Any enhancements need to be repeatable. For example , in case you bring in a contract proposal supervisor for a response, then be prepared to do so every time. This is a process you will cycle through for each RFP. If it works as properly as it should, then you may wish to carry the process over to additional responses, such as security questionnaires or due diligence questionnaires (DDQs) .
8-step RFP reaction process
- Qualify RFP: Insert a go/no-go evaluation at the beginning of the RFP response process. Sales would be the loudest voice, but suggestion teams, SMEs, and professional sponsors will need to weigh into evaluate risk, timing, and strategic fit.
- Kick-off project: Provide clarity plus accountability to the full response management team, including strategic goals that everyone can work toward.
- first response: Create an initial response pass based on reusable content. This step is a lot faster with RFP software.
- 2nd response: Tap into resources for new questions, and assign segments that require personalization to respective SMEs.
- Review & revise: Perform internal reviews to ensure a high-quality proposal. Link review requests to specific reasons (i. e., Are proper objectives met? Are reactions accurate and high quality? Did we fully answer problem? )
- Submit: Deliver polished RFP with reviewed supporting materials. Follow up to confirm receipt. Keep internal stakeholders abreast of progress.
- Save & review: Save finished responses in a centralized location and commit to regular articles audits.
- Post-mortem: Winning doesn’t always mean content material was perfect. Losing doesn’t mean it was a bad reaction. Evaluate what worked and exactly what didn’t.
Bonus phase: Get a good set of tools
Bonus step: Get a good set of tools
RFPs are becoming more complex. As technology offers evolved, expectations have increased. With the capacity to answer more questions, issuers want to ask more questions.
In the past, RFPs were issued with the issuer not so sure if a solution even been around, let alone the company that could offer it. Now there’s lots of research done online. Usually, there are multiple touchpoints having a prospective solution provider just before an RFP is also issued.
In 2021, companies that use RFP-specific software responded to 43% a lot more RFPs than those who make use of other solutions or strategies. They were also 25% more likely to agree that their procedures are streamlined enough to generate time to tailor their proposals to the issuers’ specific use-cases.
RFP software program can contain and generate your response process. Within RFPIO’s case, AI-enabled automation and collaboration begin in intake and carry throughout to your postmortem.
For those increasingly popular but occasionally maddening online response portals, RFPIO® Look for can help . The theory behind online portals is that they make RFPs easier. For the companies, maybe. But not for responders. Even though you can have as many proposal team members respond as you want, there’s no visibility. If multiple responders are upgrading and changing answers after that version and quality manage are at risk. RFPIO® Hunt lets you work directly from your Answer Library to complete the online portal without having to keep your browser.
I hope this helps you formulate your next steps for improving your RFP response process. Eventually, you’ll be able to respond to more RFPs or improve the high quality of your proposals, or each! You’ll also have a transparent, repeatable process that your suggestion team and organization in general can rely on to push RFPs as a strategic revenue stream. Timetable a demo of RFPIO to see when it’s the process improvement operater you’ve been looking for.
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