The Loopio report on how many proposals you get a year showed that they generate about 35% of your annual revenue.
RFPs are expected to be a key part of sales growth in 2021. However, it can take time and effort for companies to respond. Here are some tips on how to improve rfp response.
RFP Answer Library: 6 ways to turn your RFPs into big opportunities
How can sales teams balance speed with revenue?
1. Assign an RFP lead
When responding to RFPs, it is important to work efficiently. Top performers create designated teams for handling these requests.
When RFPs are handled by a dedicated individual or team, they experience less stress than those who have to handle them on their own.
But does stress impact performance? Yes, it’s more manageable on teams with designated RFP (request for proposal) leads. These teams respond to 5% higher response rates and 10% win rates than other salespeople.
It’s important to have someone on the team who is responsible for RFP projects, whether it be a specific company member or an individual salesperson. It will ensure that these projects are not ignored and forgotten.
2. RFP Process Best Practices: Be proactive and not reactive
If you haven’t been following up with your customers, don’t start when they send an RFP. You may have a relationship with them and know that it’s coming.
Let your team know about a potential RFP on the horizon. This will give them time to make room in their schedules and prepare for it.
If your team doesn’t have a standard way of handling RFPs, try creating an intake form to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities.
Here are some things you should put on the intake form for an RFP:
- Company name
- When I first began hiring salespeople, the information and data that was available helped me make a more informed decision on who to hire for my company.
- The format in which you respond to the request for information (web-based portal, Excel spreadsheet or Word document)
- Due date
- Prospects want to know what sets your company apart from the competition.
3. Select the RFPs that are worth responding to
In order to win bids, you have to invest a lot of time. The average RFP has 115 questions and takes 23 hours of writing time.
One way to make sure you’re responding to the right RFPs is by using a gono-go decision template.
Implementing an effective decision-making process up front will help you focus on quality opportunities that are a good fit for your company. Plus, having a streamlined and efficient system in place means there is more time to spend focused on what matters most”closing deals and hitting targets.
It’s important to create a scoring system that helps your team decide which RFPs they should take on. Loopio has an excellent no-go template for free, it covers the main factors you need consider when evaluating whether or not this project is worth pursuing.
4. Automate RFP response
It takes a lot of time to research and write up an RFP. But with the right software, you can draft one in minutes instead of hours.
RFP software helps make the process of responding to RFPs easier and less tedious. It also makes it so that projects can be centralized in one spot for better collaboration, which eliminates version control issues.
Software is important for businesses that are looking to be more efficient. Software helps with better proposal quality and improved efficiency, both of which tie into win rates. The software also has an inherent qualitative benefit: employees who use RFP software say they have lower levels of stress.
If you find that your company is constantly struggling with its hiring process, it might be time to explore an RFP solution.
- Do you answer more than one proposal or application form each month?
- When you are working on an RFP, don’t forget to involve five or more people.
- Do you answer repetitive questions in your RFPs? (Do they make up 40% or more of the responses?)
If your team answered yes to the questions above, you might want to try out RFP automation.
5. Create an RFP answer library
When asked what their challenges were in the RFP process, most respondents cited finding accurate answers to questions quickly and choosing from a group of potential answers. 27% suggested making improvements to how they store and search for content.
A centralized library of up-to-date content for your sales team is a huge help. It can make it easier to find what they need when they are working on proposals, emails or call scripts.
Building a library of RFP content is easiest through dedicated software, but if you don’t have the budget for it there are other options. You can use Microsoft 365’s SharePoint or Google Drive as temporary solutions.
The process of building a library will take time, but it’s worth the effort. Eventually you and your team can use this library to quickly pull together a rough draft for proposals. Then once that is done all you need are some reviews from SMEs on spelling mistakes or factual errors in order to finish up.
When you start a new proposal, add the answers from your five to 10 most recent ones. Add any time you complete a new RFP and it will be added automatically to your library.
6. Build a big bench of experts to improve proposals
The saying might be that too many cooks spoil the stew, but research shows it’s actually true when it comes to RFPs. The best-in-class teams involve an average of 10 contributors.
If you have more collaboration, it means that proposals are much better and your chances of winning increase.
It’s important to keep in mind that the number of contributors varies depending on company size.
When asked what their company should do to win more RFPs in the future, most respondents said that they need internal SMEs to answer requests within a timely fashion.
One way to improve collaboration is by making sure everyone has a clear idea of what the company’s values are.
Improve your communication
Have a dedicated Slack channel for RFPs, where you can easily keep track of outdated or missing information. Sharing competitive intel in this channel is key.
Make use of the help of your SMEs ahead of time
When an RFP is coming, SMEs need to know about it in advance and be aware of deadlines. A kickoff call can help you get all stakeholders on the same page.
Schedule content reviews regularly
A content library will help you respond to RFPs quickly and without as much effort. Plus, the content won’t need updates as often so there is less back-and-forth communication when deadlines are tight.
Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?
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