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Response Management

How to Get Buy-in For an Automated RFP Platform

July 11, 2022

You know all about the benefits of an automated RFP response platform. Your proposal team knows how much an automated platform will help them reply to more Requests for Proposals (RFPs). The benefits are clear to you, but  there’s a problem: your organization’s leadership isn’t necessarily on board with a new solution. 

They’re not convinced it’s necessary. Why shell out money for RFP automation when your company has got a perfectly good team of proposal professionals? You’ve been responding to RFPs without a platform? Why reinvent the wheel? 

You’re also getting some pushback from other departments across your organization. Why should other departments have to learn a new solution? RFPs are the bid team’s job, not theirs. Why should they spend time and energy on something that doesn’t directly help them? 

What you need to do is get buy-in from everyone who will interact with the RFP response platform. This may sound daunting, but you can help your colleagues come around by explaining how the new platform will benefit them.

A quick look at the RFP response process

Responding to an RFP is a process that includes people across the organization. While the proposal team and proposal manager might own the written response, the team needs input from subject matter experts (SME) across the organization. This can include colleagues from product, sales, legal, compliance  IT, and your leadership team. Anyone who interacts with your team during the response process is a part of the RFP response, even if they don’t think of bids as part of their job description. That means an RFP response platform will make their jobs easier too — you just need to show them how.

Start by making a list of all the people who come in contact with your writers while they’re working on proposals. Do your writers talk to developers when answering questions for a big response? Do you find yourself dealing with several security questionnaires or compliance questions? List them all. These are the departments you’ll need buy-in from. 

First, however, you may have to start at the top. 

Talking to leadership

If your company leaders are a part of your buying process, you will need to convince them that an RFP response platform is a good investment. 

When talking to company leaders, emphasize the benefits the organization will experience as a whole by making this investment. This is something you can do by pointing out the competitive advantage RFP software can offer. 

For example, you might tell them that: 

  • According to Salesforce research, 65% of high-performing sales organizations automate the proposal generation process, as opposed to 37% of low performers. 
  • According to VentureBeat, organizations that automate parts of the RFP process respond to an average of 43% more RFPs per year. That’s an opportunity for many more sales every year. 

Getting SMEs to buy in

Your subject matter experts can come from a wide range of departments, from development to sales to legal, but they probably all have some of the same RFP-related complaints. For example, they’ve probably been asked to send the same information to your bid team more than once. 

Whenever they’re asked a question for an RFP response, they have to take time out of their day to write a new answer question or they have to dig through their email or files to find an old response. This interrupts their day and keeps them from getting their other work done. 

Show them how an RFP response platform can make their job easier: 

  • They answer a question once and only once. After they answer the question, the information goes into a central library of content. The content library organizes their answers so bid writers can easily find and pull it for the next RFP response. This means the SMEs aren’t constantly getting interrupted. 
  • If an SME has to update older information — if a product changes, for example — they can easily find their old answers in the content library. There’s no searching through inboxes or old files. 

Talking to the IT and security teams

Ask any cybersecurity team and they’ll tell you the bane of their existence: security questionnaires. Some companies have to fill out hundreds of security questionnaires every year, and some of those questionnaires are hundreds of pages long. 

Show the security team how an RFP response platform can help them: 

  • Automated RFP platforms aren’t just for proposals. Security teams can use them to store previous answers to security questionnaires so that they can quickly pull answers to relevant questions. 
  • While no two security questionnaires are the same, RFP software can quickly take a first pass at a security questionnaire, so that cybersecurity teams  don’t get tied up having to write the whole draft from scratch, and can concentrate on the areas that need their attention the most.

‘We’ve always done it this way’ is a dangerous phrase

Worries about a new technology are understandable. When a new technology enters a business it often means a new way of doing things, and that stresses everybody out. They need to learn something new, and there’s a chance of failure. People often get frustrated, and want to go back to the old way of doing things.

Change is never easy. But it’s not impossible, as long as you manage it wisely. Prepare them for a breaking-in period, and keep the focus on how easy things will be once they master the new technology. 

Ombud, for example, will give people across your organization more time by streamlining  the creation of sales documents, and making content collaboration easier and more efficient for everyone. That’s a huge bonus for your team. 

Interested in learning more about Ombud’s RFP software? Request a demo here.

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