Answering a Request for Proposal (RFP) is no easy task.
Once you’ve determined that an RFP is right for your organization, your bid team has to get to work crafting a proposal that will win you the business. That means writing a detailed proposal that explains your product is the best fit for them, potentials including a cybersecurity questionnaire, as well as compliance or legal documents. It also means customizing the proposal to your client; answering their questions and addressing their specific business problems.
All of that needs to be done thoroughly and quickly, so that your sales team can close the deal. Sound like a lot? It is; especially if you’re on the bid team for a small business, moving from one stressful RFP deadline to another. Fortunately, there’s a way to simplify the bid process — RFP automation.
What is RFP automation?
RFP automation is a form of sales enablement designed to simplify the proposal stage of the sales process. Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, RFP automation software is able to assemble a basic draft of a proposal that a team can then flesh out, tailoring the document to the client’s specific needs.
RFP automation software can also be used to organize and archive proposals and supplemental materials so that proposal and sales teams always have the information they need at their fingertips.
This automation lets teams save time on the first draft of a bid, and concentrate their effort on the pieces of the bid process that require the most time, energy and creativity.
Why do you need RFP automation software?
If your organization responds to RFPs regularly, you can probably benefit from the automation of the proposal process, but certain companies may need RFP enablement more than others. Below are 5 signs your team is in need of proposal management software:
- You have a small bid team: Proposal teams can be large (big companies may have as many as 12 people on a bid team), but in small companies, bid teams tend to be small (between 1 and three people). Some companies may not have a bid team at all; according to research from the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP), 45% of proposal professionals work on bids alongside other responsibilities in marketing, sales or business development. That’s a heavy load on a small team of people who are already busy with other work. RFP automation can ease the burden by assembling the first draft , allowing the proposal manager more time to focus on the most critical parts of the document.
- You respond to many, many RFPs: If you were only responding to a few RFPs a year, it might not be too onerous to assemble responses from scratch, but if your company is ramping up and taking on more RFPs, it’s probably time for automation. RFP software automates the dullest, most-time consuming parts of the job, so the team can work on differentiating the bids.
- Knowledge is siloed: Do your writers have to start chasing subject matter experts the moment an RFP response is assigned in order to make deadline? Your company’s knowledge might be siloed—trapped in various departments or with one or two individuals. When knowledge is siloed, it’s difficult to get the information your writers need to put your proposals together. Automation helps with this by creating a library of content from previous RFP responses, so writers can pull what they need when they’re writing.
- You’re spending more time searching for information than writing: Are your writers spending all their time searching for old proposals, or combing through old emails, documents and spreadsheets to find one piece of information they need for a proposal? That’s a waste of time that can be avoided by having a content library. RFP software gives you a searchable database of all your old content, so that information is easy to find.
- Your product or service has become more complex: When an organization expands its product, often the bids your team writes also expand. It makes sense; the more complex your offerings, the more SMEs you’ll need to include in the proposal process. RFP automation helps by creating a central repository of SME reference documents writers can tap into instead of waiting for SMEs to send their answers.
Automation gives your team time to write the best bids possible
As important as RFP automation is, it can never replace human bid teams. You need the expertise of SMEs, the creativity of your writers, and the critical eyes of your editors to write the best document they can. Automation, like Ombud’s RFP automation solution, is a tool that lets your bid team do what they do best — create a compelling bid that sells your product to your prospective customers.