Let’s set the table. If you’re a vendor who regularly responds to Requests for Proposals or information (RFPs / RFIs) as part of your prospecting or sales process, we don’t have to tell you they’re a proverbial pain in the tush – pages and pages of company data is required upfront just to be in the running. The work is time (as in weekend) consuming and tedious. In fact, if you want to clear a room quickly, just casually remark “We’re responding to an RFP….” and watch sales people, relationship managers, and IT staff scatter. You won’t even hear crickets chirping in the background… they ran too. The truth is it can be soul-crushing work to assemble solid responses for every last question, insight, use case, heading and subheading. Yet, for many businesses, RFPs represent some of the most enduring and lucrative business partnership opportunities. The potential value of every response is significant, so the struggle continues.
Often, this means the employee tasked with pulling together needed response data is reaching out to the same people who contributed to the last cycle, or poring over previously submitted proposals looking for information. Sadly, even experienced businesses sometimes give up the fight before even submitting their response – either because they couldn’t get their complete response together in time or simply didn’t have the required resources, programs or processes in place to be competitive.
Bottom line: wasted RFP time and effort lengthens your sales cycle and leads to lost opportunities, resources, and revenue, regardless of how well qualified you are to meet the specific need. You also lose that critical “first impression” window to clearly demonstrate to potential clients you are a prepared and responsive vendor. So, given stringent RFP requirements and strict assessment response times, why do most vendors, especially smaller entities, lack a defined RFP response process? For many businesses, the RFP process may be relatively new. For others, they may lack a dedicated and experienced onsite professional with specific proposal experience.
So, what’s a faster path to “yes?” If you want to improve your RFP response time, win more business, and free your people to focus more on closing deals, start with building an agile structure that automates the process. Look for redundancies and opportunities for collaboration. Examine your existing cloud-based or database functionalities for opportunities to leverage real-time data for your RFP process. Measure yourself against typical vendor questions and requirements and identify program gaps. In today’s vendor climate, customers will be asking you about your processes aligned to risk management such as Business Continuity Management (BCM), Disaster Recovery (DR), data security, and overall governance, risk and compliance (GRC). Have answers to cover these and other major operational concerns ready to deploy, and be sure you have the functional systems or documentation to back them up. If you want to make a smart investment in getting up to speed quickly, consider working with a knowledgeable resource to ensure you are asking yourself all the right questions to establish the RFP framework and programs you need to quickly capture those emerging opportunities.
With planning and preparation, you can go from proposal angst and avoidance to effectively streamlining an RFP response process that will seamlessly integrate into your overall sales strategy. CastleHill has the solution and the experience to implement it, both economically and efficiently. As a trusted partner to many successful vendors in the RFP space, we would be happy to schedule a demo with you to show you what your structured program would look like.