RFP management best practices

“You have to have a plan, or else you are just creating a recipe designed for chaos. ” ~ Jesse Brooks

What is your first instinct when an RFP lands on your desk? Do you drive it aside in favor of a lot more urgent matters? Do you jump right in, or do you already have a strategy in place?

New York Times columnist Brian Brooks might not have been discussing RFP management, but as with many things, having an RFP management plan, a strategy, often means the difference between winning your bid and chaos.

What is RFP management?

At the top level, RFP management is all about managing the process of responding to offer requests from start (even before receiving the RFP) to finish. Responsibilities vary from firm to organization, but the targets are the same, which is to win new business.

At their core, RFP response is about responding to how you will address a prospect’s requirements, but a good response goes far past giving rote answers. Using carefully curated and fresh content, the response need to tell a story demonstrating that you simply understand the customer’s needs as well as how to best address them.

RFP management includes leveraging organization resources, such as subject matter professionals (SMEs), existing data, not to mention processes. If you consistently offer quality answers to RFPs, your win rate will increase. Below are the best practices we and our customers value to drive revenue and increase win rates.

Bid to get RFPs strategically

There’s strength in numbers, right? The more RFPs you answer, the more you’ll win, right? Probably not. Some of the RFPs you receive aren’t a good fit for your business, so why waste time and resources on those?

Tools for example RFPIO’s AI-powered content collection , which answers up to 80% of the RFP’s questions, makes answering an RFP much faster and less resource-intensive. But if you understand going in that you won’t win the bid, or you can not service it, you’re still wasting valuable time and resources. Is the bid winnable? Stick to these steps to narrow lower which RFPs you should respond to.

  • Do you have a preexisting relationship with the customer? Do they specifically choose to send it to you, or are they using a buckshot approach? A previous relationship—or when the issuer has been doing their own research—will dramatically increase your win rate over the RFPs that are automatically sent to everyone in your industry.
  • Is your firm a fit? If you can’t support the customer’s needs , there’s simply no reason to answer their RFP.
  • Can you address all of the challenges offered in the RFP? Or at the very least, the particular most important ones?
  • Is your pricing within the customer’s budget? No, cash isn’t everything, and often, features and ability to meet the RFP’s challenges will win away. However , if your solution is significantly outside of the customer’s budget, it’s a tough hill to ascend and efforts will be best spent elsewhere.
  • Can you meet the prospect’s timeline? Can you meet the submission deadline? What about each deliverable? Can your organization fulfill all of the requirements on time?
  • Do you know the reason why the RFP was issued? This could help determine the customer’s pain points.

Initial you should identify and talk to your SMEs. If you haven’t won similar bids just before, or if you’d possess a difficult time fulfilling the requirements, you could be better off passing on that particular opportunity.

Have a clearly-defined RFP team

Regardless of whether your organization includes a proposal management team or even proposal management is the purview of the sales team or even a one person, there should always be a person who’s ultimately in charge.

From there, the team might vary depending on the customer’s requirements and your company’s organizational framework. Titles are often used interchangeably and can mean different things to different organizations.

The Association associated with Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) membership roster includes greater than 1, 300 different job titles. You might have a dedicated offer management team, but they may need to involve additional SMEs and stakeholders such as the executive group, legal, HR, information safety, training and implementation, product sales, customer success, account managers, IT, operations, finance, and so forth Each organization is different, yet proposal management team roles might include the following:

  • Bid (or project) supervisor — The bid manager prospects the proposal management group and is involved in every stage of the bid process.
  • Proposal manager — The proposal manager works on a more granular degree than the bid manager. Proposal managers oversee the entire procedure.
  • Proposal writer — The suggestion writer is responsible for responding to the customer’s requirements in a convincing style that includes relevant information such as case studies and other differentiators.
  • Proposal coordinator — The particular proposal coordinator is responsible for the administrative aspects of the reaction, including coordinating the internal movement, schedules, security and integrity, and directing submission associated with final documents.
  • Proposal publisher — The proposal editor helps to ensure that the writing is high quality, persuasive, and maintains a consistent voice. They also check grammar, punctuational, punctuation, and format consistency.
  • Content manager — The content supervisor is responsible for adding to, maintaining, plus periodically reviewing the content library.

In many organizations however , all of these roles are being stuffed by only a few individuals and even one, which means those individuals often wear a lot of hats. Be sure to have actionable deliverables to ensure that each person contributing to the response has clear targets. This applies even if there is a single contributor.

Fully understand the customer’s expectations

There’s simply no such thing as a cookie-cutter RFP or customer. It is critical to fully understand the customer’s specific wants and expectations before attempting to answer their RFP. For example , don’t mention features that don’t matter to the customer, such as niche market certifications that don’t apply. Start with what interests the issuer and then tailor your responses to those interests.

Look over between the lines in endeavoring to understand customer pain factors. For example , if a customer requires a software developer if they provide user-based pricing, rather than answer “yes” or “no, ” ask yourself why a customer may ask that. Perhaps they’ve reached limitations with other techniques, or there’s a rival that offers a more appealing prices structure.

Determine how you stand out from your competitors, which of course can include cost, but it can also consist of product or service quality, expertise, customer service, and overall reputation.

Handle and organize RFP articles

As baseball icon Girl Ruth once said, “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games. ” Likewise, yesterday’s answers don’t earn today’s RFPs, even if you’ve won that exact same RFP for the exact same customer during the past. Why? Because as your company changes, so should the articles.

When you search your content library, you might find hundreds or even thousands of relevant Q& A sets. Weeding through them may appear overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Managing and organizing your articles library should be an ongoing procedure, but there are some things you can do right now to help whittle down your own Q& A pairs. The main element is to focus on quality rather than quantity. You should regularly audit your content library for:

Precision – If, for example , you unintentionally lowball the bid, you may be contractually obligated to honor that pricing. Additionally , if you erroneously claim regulatory compliance, your business could be held responsible for information breaches, etc . In other words, precision is critical, as is regularly auditing your chemical ontent library to archive outdated info and update as appropriate.

Content availability – RFPs are usually bulky and time consuming, and many organizations are stretched thin. Finding the correct answer quickly is critical. An updated content material library lets you easily find the proper information without having to sift through thousands of documents and megabits associated with data.

Naming and tagging – Establish a standardized naming convention for every project. Not only does that make the content more accessible to each team member, it can help you find customer-specific content for future requests. You can additional narrow down the content by tagging. How you want to label is up to your company. Many select tagging by industry or general requirements. This can help dramatically narrow down your content.

Keep content up-to-date

The best way to go around content bloat is to prevent it in the first place. Perform regular audits to help keep your content fresh.

  • Is the content still current?
  • Is the content accurate?
  • Are the solutions relevant to your customers?
  • Is the content material well-written?
  • Does the content fit your company’s voice and tone?
  • Is the content easily accessible?

Regularly scheduled audits might not be enough, though, especially if your company goes through pricing, service, or regulatory changes.

RFPIO response management software is a tested tool to increase RFP earn rates and help you maintain your content up to date. If you’d like to learn more about how you can earn more by doing less, plan a demo .

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