This past year wasn’t always an easy one for organizations. Companies, still recovering from the pandemic, were faced with an economic slowdown. There were still silver linings, however. Industries have focused on creating resilient supply chains, and many of those efforts produced opportunities (and thus, Requests for Proposals). What’s ahead for proposal management? We’ve identified five key proposal management trends on the horizon for 2023:
- RFP opportunities will continue to increase
Requests for Proposals (RFP) aren’t going away in 2023. With organizations concerned about the stability of their supply chains, our clients are seeing many more requests come through from potential clients: RFPs, RFIs and RFQs are now the norm in industries that may not have been used to them as part of their sales cycles.
Businesses are doing this for a few reasons: to minimize risk and to justify costs as they come out of a global economic downturn—and your solution will not be immune to this scrutiny.
RFP use will also increase because of the number of opportunities; we are still recovering from the pandemic, and governments are likely going to continue attempting to stimulate their economies with competitive bids and RFPs driving that growth.
- Due diligence is on the rise
More and more companies are expressing concern about risk from their suppliers. Ransomware attacks are on the rise, and bad actors have realized that while it’s not always easy to hack into an enterprise, it can be easy to get into that enterprise through their vendors. According to Ponemon’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report, 83% of organizations have suffered more than one data breach in the past year. Those breaches are often more severe than if an enterprise had been hacked directly, costing 2.5% more and taking 26 days longer to discover than the average data breach.
Wanting to avoid such an incident, enterprises are getting serious about due diligence, requiring more documentation, longer questionnaires, and more rigorous answers on existing documents. By 2025 Gartner predicts that 60% of organizations will use cybersecurity risk as a primary factor when it comes to deciding to do business with a vendor.
- Client retention RFP opportunities will also continue to rise
Good client relationships will only get you so far when the CFO gets a hold of your contract. Budget scrutiny and justification are of the utmost importance right now, and the sales funnel is less of a “funnel” and more of a circle these days.
As a result, sellers and proposal professionals alike will have to turn on their persuasive powers to retain business through conversations and written proposals. As evidenced in an article on Winning The Business, “most value accrues over time as customers benefit from their purchase and continue and expand purchasing. Consequently, sellers must embrace a change in mindset from ‘win the customer,’ to ‘show the customer the path to value.’”
- Because of this rise, companies will look to automation and additional headcount
With the increase of activity, the way teams have set up their proposal response processes (and the potential lay-offs earlier in the year) could prove unscalable into the future.
But merely adding a point solution to your tech stack or adding more headcount won't be scalable adequately, either. To truly harness the power of new technology or expertise, teams will need to define what success looks like for their proposal teams. How do you track the effectiveness of a solution you put in place?
Understanding core processes and what part of those processes can be easily optimized will separate your team from the competition as you go into a year of increased responses and help inform what headcount is truly needed.
- Personalization will become even more prevalent and necessary.
This trend has been slowly creeping up on us throughout the last decade, first with account-based marketing coming on the scene, then account-based selling, and the newest arrival being social selling over the previous few years.
These trends all have one key factor in mind: tailoring a bid to the person behind the lead.
With the rise in proposal and content automation platforms, proposal professionals are now seeing a return to their true purpose: writing. Gone (hopefully) are the days of merely being project managers and cat-herders. With so many solutions on the market to automate that part of the job, proposal teams will have more time and resources allocated to achieving the level of personalization the client experienced in the first prospecting correspondence they received.
Get a head start in 2023
These trends are pervasive across industries, companies of varying sizes, and revenue teams of varying maturity. If you’re seeing the impacts of these trends, you can be certain your competition is as well. Deals will continue to be won and lost in the margins as we move into 2023. Finding ways to uniquely differentiate yourself - through process optimization, personalization, automation, collaboration, or all of the above - will ensure you treat every opportunity like it’s your most valuable.