B2B sales cycles aren’t getting easier. Along with all the different ways you need to act like B2C companies to grab the buyer’s attention, you also have to keep that attention during the decision stages: including when you respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP).
With so many hurdles to get to this stage and given every sales opportunity is critical, you need to be sure you’re putting your best foot forward with responses that are as effective as possible. We teamed up with Zendesk’s Senior Bid & Content Manager, Christina Carter, to compile four crucial ways to make your RFPs stand out:
1. Answer questions directly and clearly.
This may seem like common sense, but the term ‘sales fluff’ isn’t just slang - it’s reality. “Answer the question directly in the first line. Never make the customer read through the full answer to know if the answer to their question is Yes or No,” Christina notes. “Also, never ever make them click through to a URL to find the answer. Many people read proposals as a printed page, so URLs are essentially worthless—and you will get marked down.”
2. Speak to their value proposition more than your boilerplate language.
We all know personalization is the name of the game in B2B sales—and RFPs are no exception. Christina encourages companies to “always relate a feature or service back to how it will benefit the customer specifically. The more you can talk about their specific goals, pain points, services, and situation, the better.”
Even when using RFP software, customization of your sales content is essential. “You want them to feel like every sentence was written with them in mind, not copied and pasted from a database. This will show the customer that you fully understand them, that you’ve listened to them, and that your product can solve their problems, making them far more likely to score you well and purchase your product.”
3. Make your sales proposal visually pleasing and dynamic.
We’ve all read or seen a dreaded 1,000 question RFP come in and think ‘who’s going to read this?!’. Well, your customer is, so you should make the experience easy and painless. “If you’re responding with a Word document or PDF, include screenshots and images as often as possible. People do judge a book by its cover, and they like what they read to look nice,” Christina mentions.
In the case of RFPs, it’s not just the presentation factor that images assist with: “images also break up the text, making your proposal much easier (and more fun!) to read. Plus, many people reading proposals are visual learners. So, if they see a stat as a visual or your product as a screenshot or gif, they will appreciate you over your competitors.” The name of the game here: perception is often reality and visual presentation can have a huge impact.
4. Show the evidence and prove it!
Finally, customers won’t just take your word for it. Quality sales cycles are built around trust, and one of the most trustworthy pieces of collateral is customer success stories. Christina suggests using “glowing customer quotes, reference stories, or statistics that prove you can do what you say you’ve done, and short videos or gifs of your product/service. The more you use, the more you’ve proven to the customer that you can do what you say you can do—and you can do it well.”
Don’t Leave Your RFPs Up to Chance
Sales content effectiveness tracking doesn’t stop after the top of the funnel. Throughout the entire sales cycle, you must optimize messaging and illustrate to your buyer that you’re the best option. In RFPs, answering the question clearly, speaking to the customer’s value proposition, making it visually pleasing, and utilizing customer proof points can set your responses apart from the competition.
If this task and these updates are looking a bit daunting, check out our recent blog on making your content curation easy and painless.