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Response Management

RFP Automation: What It Is, How It Works, and Best Practices

July 28, 2022

Businesses respond to an average of 140 Requests for Proposals (RFPs) every year. That’s a lot of bids to manage in a year, especially if every bid is being written from scratch.

Because bids tend to be repetitive content, for the most part, this means your writers and subject matter experts (SME) are spending hours answering the same RFP questions that get answered in every single bid. It’s dull, repetitive and it’s wasting everyone’s time. 

Even worse, by the time your writers get to the interesting bits of the bid — the part where they can really customize the proposal for the client’s needs — they may be worn down by searching for old information and pasting it into a document. 

This is where RFP automation can help your organization with the RFP response process. 

What is RFP response automation? 

RFP response automation is a kind of sales enablement technology that allows your team to work smarter, not harder, when putting together a bid. 

Essentially, it is the use of technology to automate any part of the bid-writing process. Usually automation handles the parts of the job that are repetitive, dull, or tedious, freeing up your writers and other team members to handle the creative work. 

Investing in automation usually pays off; according to Salesforce’s State of Sales report, the top-performing sales organizations use automation in their sales process. 

Despite this fact,  research has shown that about 30% of proposal teams aren’t using any sort of RFP or proposal software at all. This means every bid at those organizations is being put together from scratch or cobbled together from content stored in spreadsheets, in email inboxes, and in older proposals. 

What are the benefits? 

Efficiency and revenue generation are probably the biggest benefits your team will realize when you start using RFP automation; when software is handling the dullest, most time-consuming tasks in the bid process, your team will start answering RFPs more quickly and be able to respond to even more RFPs.

There are, however, other benefits: 

  • Saved time: How much time have your writers spent digging through emails and old messages looking for that one perfect answer that would work well in an RFP? RFP automation solves that problem by keeping all pertinent information in one central location.
  • Happier writers: When RFP technology takes the first pass at drafting an RFP, your writers won’t be starting with a blank page. They can read through, and change what they need to before jumping right to the creative parts. 
  • Fewer annoyed SMEs: SMEs are forever answering the same questions for RFPs. When you use RFP automation, they only have to answer each question once. 

How does it work?  

RFP automation saves and organizes sales content so that it’s easily accessible when your proposal team needs it. 

Take Ombud’s solution. Ombud stores SME answers and other content in a central content library, where it’s organized and searchable. Team members are also able to vote on content, so the strongest sales content is always available to writers. When it’s time to respond to an RFP, writers can pull together a draft quickly, or the platform can take the first pass at a draft for them.

What are RFP best practices? 

  • Keep your content organized: automation works best when content is organized and well labeled. 
  • Use strong templates: A good template means your platform will be able to quickly put together a draft that makes sense. 
  • Create different templates for different kinds of bids: Different bids call for different structures. For example, a proactive proposal and a RFP response should each have their own template. 
  • Don’t be afraid to use media: Embed photos, videos, charts, graphs, and other media to capture your client’s attention. 

Why RFP automation? Why now? 

When your sales organization invests in tools that help your team do their job, you’re doing more than lifting the heavy load most teams are carrying. You’re also streamlining your bid process and taking in more business. According to VentureBeat, organizations that automate parts of the RFP process respond to an average of 43% more RFPs per year.

Tools like Ombud combine content collaboration, project management, and machine learning to streamline the creation of  RFP responses, security questionnaires, sales proposals, statements of work, and more. This lets your team do their best work by taking the heavy lifting off their plates. 

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

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