When writing a bid, how many times has your proposal team copied and pasted? How much time do they spend searching for old answers to questions they used in previous RFPs?
No matter how good your proposal team is, responding to a request for proposals can be a time-consuming, tedious task. That’s where proposal automation comes in. But what is it? And how can you prepare your team for it?
What is proposal automation?
RFP response automation falls under the sales enablement umbrella — the use of any technology to automate part of the sales process, enabling the sales team to better do their jobs. According to Hubspot, 61% of sales organizations that used some sort of automation exceeded their revenue targets in 2021. Forty percent of those who were surveyed are automating content, like sales proposals.
Proposal automation means the parts of the proposal writing jobs that are boring and repetitive are automated. Think: the copy-paste cycle, or chasing subject matter experts for the same answers they’ve given you a million times. By automating this part of the job, you free up your team to focus on the more creative parts of the job, like writing a sales bid that really responds to the needs of one specific customer.
Ombud’s solution, for example, keeps all your sales content in one central content library. Old responses to RFPs, drafts, sales content written by your team, and answers from SMEs are stored in a library so that writers can find the content when needed. Ombud’s platform can also take the first pass at a proposal draft based on the content in that library.
Benefits of RFP response automation
- Efficiency: When your writers aren’t spending all their time searching for old sales content, or chasing SMEs for answers they’ve already asked for, they can spend more time actually writing.
- Revenue generation: The more time your team saves on each RFP response, the more bids they can actually send out, and that will affect the bottom line. According to Salesforce’s State of Sales report, top-performing sales organizations are using automation.
- A streamlined bid process: Because automation makes you think through your processes, you’ll find that using automated tools will force you to streamline your proposal writing process, throwing out unnecessary steps, and adding the ones you need. This will also ensure consistency.
How can you prepare for RFP automation?
While your team will definitely benefit from proposal automation, your organization may not be ready to jump right in. It’s important to prepare before introducing automation or any sales enablement.
- Know your content: What sales content have you been using for your proposals? Where has it been living? Audit your content before introducing a database. Talk to your team and ask them where they’ve been keeping their sales content. It might be in emails, a document, a Google Drive, or in a folder on a hard drive. Gather up all of it, review the information, and discard duplicates or outdated information.
- Map your existing process: Before adding an automated solution, it’s important to know exactly what your current process is. Map out the RFP process, from the moment an RFP comes in to the moment the proposal is sent. Make a list of all the steps and all the stakeholders who have a hand in creating bids. Then you’ll have a better awareness of the way proposal automation will add to and benefit your sales organization.
- Get buy-in: This is often the tricky part. To implement any new technology you have to get everyone — from leadership to your team — on board. You also have to ensure your team will actually use the platform. You can do this by showing them how the product will make their day to day job easier, and how it can eliminate or ease some of the frustrations they deal with on a daily basis.
Do we need automation?
Automation is sometimes viewed with concern, and sometimes teams will avoid it. Salesforce found that about 30% of sales teams aren’t using automation at all in their sales process. Those sales teams are not the highest performers, however.
Automation is used in so many areas of our lives already, and it’s simply a way of making work easier. Think of your email inbox: if you didn't have a spam filter, you’d have to sift through your email messages to find the genuine messages. It would take hours.
Sales enablement is the same. It takes the busywork out of your team’s job, so they’re free to do the work you hired them to do: build sales proposals that generate revenue.
Interested in learning more about Ombud’s RFP software? Request a demo here.