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How to Make RFPs a Value Driver for Your Sales Organization

 
 

Any successful salesperson knows the path to closing more deals is lined with quality request for proposal (RFP) responses. 

A high-quality RFP demonstrates how well you understand your clients’ pain points. It articulates how you will solve those problems and add value. Responding to an RFP allows you to continue the sales conversation, giving your prospect more time to find out why your organization is the one they should partner with. 

If you still don’t think RFPs are a top priority, we’d like to show you why they are a value driver in the sales cycle and how you can efficiently pursue these opportunities with sharper tools.

Speak Directly to Their Objectives

Often the last question in a job interview is “Do you have any questions for me?” The answer is always yes, because this inquisitive behavior shows you are serious about the opportunity. When you let prospective customers do the talking, this is how you learn what they are looking for and where you fit in to deliver support.

Relationship selling is key for RFP success. Whether you are tracking LinkedIn profiles or asking questions during a discovery call, being attentive and conversational early on will strengthen the prospect relationship and your RFP response content. 

According to the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey, 63 percent of salespeople said an automated answer library helps them save time so they are able to pursue new business with RFPs . An answer library is a repository of organizational content, authored by subject matter experts (SMEs) and reviewed and approved by proposal writers or marketing team members. 

It’s important to have a  recommendation engine with auto-response functionality to dramatically cut completion time, and bring your most relevant content forward. Since RFP software lightens your content creation workload, you gain focus time to finesse proposals to address the specific goals and needs you discovered earlier while you were establishing and building the relationship.

Customize and Personalize Your Content

RFPs should be in the middle of your revenue roadmap, designed to advance the sales process with a fine balance of professionalism and personalization. An RFP demonstrates that you have a solid understanding of what the issuer is asking for in their request. Address each item in the RFP comprehensively and make sure your final deliverable looks fantastic. 

Brand consistency is a common challenge for RFP responders, since so many contributors are involved in the process. Everyone has their own idea of font types, header weights, bullet point styles, and company logos. Visual inconsistencies within an RFP deliverable can distract from messaging and even decrease brand credibility. 

For example, Hope Henderson of Alera Group was tasked with improving brand consistency within RFPs. Impressive company growth meant Hope had 75 firms to rein in. She tackled this challenge by using customized export templates so all firms had RFP presentations that were appropriately branded.

Export template customization allowed Alera Group the flexibility to tailor specific firm offerings and then export the content into a format that adhered to the firm’s brand guidelines. And if sales engaged an enterprise organization, its team could use the Alera Group branded template to make one powerful company statement. 

RFP automation strengthens the quality of your finished documents so you put your best foot forward for each unique business opportunity. Going the extra mile with the look and feel of your RFP deliverable shows you genuinely care about the potential business partnership.

Analyze Your Process Constantly

You live and learn throughout the sales cycle. Your RFP response process must evolve with the rest of your operational improvements. Do you have the right team in the right place? Is your content delivering results? Which opportunities are worth your time? These are all questions you can (and should) answer on an ongoing basis.

In the RFP responder survey mentioned above, 31 percent of salespeople use dashboards as a fundamental component of their RFP response process. An executive dashboard gives your stakeholders a comprehensive picture of project status and team workloads. A dashboard allows your sales leadership team to review historical data to see which content and tactics are working. 

Additionally, 29 percent of sales teams from the same survey said they value reporting capabilities the most. Reports keep an answer library running optimally because you know when you either have the right amount of content or an excessive amount that needs to be addressed. You’ll want to run a detailed win-loss analysis so you have more visibility into the type of deals you are winning and the type of deals that may not be worth your time. 

Ongoing analysis of your RFP response process is essential for improvement. With all of these insights at your disposal, your sales organization will make better-informed decisions to keep internal energy focused on right-fit business opportunities.

 

When you start recognizing RFPs as value drivers for your sales organization, your dedication will pay off. The key is to continually refine your RFP response process, so you run an efficient results-driven sales operation.

A high-quality RFP demonstrates how well you understand your clients’ pain points. ”

Ganesh Shankar | CEO and Co-Founder, RFPIO
 

Ganesh Shankar

CEO and Co-Founder, RFPIO

Ganesh Shankar is CEO and Co-Founder of RFPIO, the leading cloud-based response management platform. Together, with his co-founders, Ganesh has pioneered the most advanced technology for RFP responders, helping revenue teams respond to queries with maximum efficiency while creating higher-quality responses and additional revenue opportunities.
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