You didn’t put in years to become a proposal expert to spend your days digging for RFP answers in a SharePoint labyrinth, frantically cutting and pasting from last year’s proposals, and begging subject matter experts (SMEs) to get back to you. It’s time to evolve beyond creating RFP responses manually.
With RFP response automation software, you can take back your weekends, your evenings, and your sanity. Across all industries and geographies, the most effective sales and proposal professionals rely on automation to create higher-quality proposals—fast.
It’s easy to get started with RFP automation, but, like any process change, it takes commitment to do it right. To help you get your teammates and execs on the same page and secure buy-in, here are five clear signs that you need RFP response automation software.
1. You have more RFPs than time (in your 60-hour workweek)
RFPs are your organization’s lifeblood. You know your work directly impacts your company’s success, but there are never enough hours in the day. While you live for crafting compelling proposals, you also feel guilty carving out time for yourself on weekends and toss and turn at night as deadlines race closer. Even one more RFP could push your team past its breaking point.
As a rule, you can either build proposals quickly or correctly. RFP response software shatters that limitation. With automation, delivering higher-quality proposals fast is as easy as ABC:
Insert the most relevant RFP answers automatically to build a draft response in minutes.
Collaborate in real-time or pull in experts when it’s their turn to act with automatic workflows.
Professionally brand your proposal in seconds with frustration-free formatting templates.
RFP response automation frees up time to focus on customizing proposals to better connect with decision-makers, answer even more RFPs, and take that well-earned break—without the crushing guilt. Also, when you unlock time to step away from the tactical, you can look at the analytics your new software provides and start to make strategic decisions to increase efficiency.
2. Your products or services are complicated
Maybe you have an extensive product catalog or a wide range of services you have to tailor by industry and geography. Either way, you’re not selling a plug-and-play product, and if you try to be everything to everyone, you’d have to be in a skyscraper to finish your elevator pitch before the doors open.
When you’re dealing with this level of complexity and tight RFP response deadlines, you can’t afford to send your proposal coordinators on quests to track down product details, and your SMEs will revolt if you keep sending one-off email questions their way. You need a single location where you can store—and quickly find—all the latest, approved RFP and proposal content.
RFP response software helps you capture and store winning RFP answers for all your products and services in one central library. It’s simple to organize and update different versions of the same content by industry, geography, purpose, length, language, and beyond. With all this approved content just a few clicks away, even your newest team members will look like product and services experts.
Of course, products, services, and companies change. That’s where automatic content expiration dates and review and approval workflows come in. Together, these automation features help you replace overwhelming annual content refreshes with manageable, periodic content updates. The best part is, you can trust that you’re always working with the latest approved RFP and proposal content.
3. Every RFP sets off a mad dash for information
Quick: What percentage of uptime have you delivered to organizations with 500-1,000 employees within a 100-mile radius of Cleveland, Ohio? That sounds like a new one, right? Time to bring in a SME.
After consulting an org chart from five years ago, you find someone on the dev team who can probably help. Three emails and a voicemail later, she responds with: “In the future, please check your notes before contacting us. We’re swamped. I already sent this answer to Tim. Whatever we told you last time is right.”
Yikes! How were you supposed to know someone already asked this question?
Eventually, you whittle down the list of “Tims” at your company to find the right person to follow-up with. The only problem is Tim gave his two weeks’ notice… two months ago! Even if IT archived his personal folders, you have no idea how to access them. At this point, you’re two days closer to your RFP response deadline and have nothing to show for your effort.
You could have avoided this headache—and saved your SME relationship—with an RFP response software that provides a central place to store your approved proposal content. With RFP software, you can also see who owns each proposal content record at-a-glance, so you always know who to contact when you have a follow-up question or need to request an update.
4. Compliance standards are a never-ending battle
Are you joined at the hip with HIPAA, FERPA, ITAR, and a whole can of other alphabet-soup compliance regulations? RFP automation helps make your organization bulletproof by building audit-trails automatically and giving users access to only the content they need to do their jobs. It’s simple to shield and limit access to confidential and sensitive information.
Proposal managers can also define and enforce review and approval workflows, so all requested edits and new content submissions always go through the sanctioned process before they’re published. In the background, automation software tracks and timestamps who did what, when. This way, you have full visibility into where all content records are in their review processes, can verify who ultimately approved every new record, and will never create risk by sending out inaccurate or draft content by mistake.
Just adding this level of content control and visibility to your organization is a brag-worthy contribution to your risk management approach. And you can rest easy knowing that your content and information management processes are always audit-ready. Instead of contacting and waiting to hear back from your security or compliance team, you can export an audit-trail report from your RFP software any time on demand.
5. Your subject matter experts (SMEs) have other priorities
Product managers, sales engineers, leaders, and legal staff all have higher priority ways to spend their time than jumping in and out of RFP responses. No matter how vital RFP responses are to your company’s success, these individuals’ primary responsibilities simply have nothing to do with creating proposals.
So, can you count on SMEs and other occasional proposal contributors to eagerly drop everything to chase down RFP answers and write compelling and complete replies? I don’t think so. When push comes to shove, even the most willing contributors will put their core work ahead of helping you—especially if your requests land in their inboxes on weekends or after hours.
Even though most SMEs only help with proposals once in a while, they should be in your corner when it’s time to purchase and get started with an RFP automation product. RFP automation software spares SMEs from the distraction of getting asked the same proposal questions over and over by capturing all your repeatable RFP answers in an easily searchable central location.
Of course, you’ll still need to reach out to SMEs for help now and again. When you do, workflows and real-time collaboration tools built into your RFP response software will make it easy for SMEs to get you the answers you need fast—without confusing back-and-forth emails.
How can I get started with RFP response automation?
If you’re ready to kick off your journey to RFP automation bliss, be sure to check out Upland Qvidian. Qvidian helps you automate away the boring and time-consuming parts of your RFP response process, so you can focus on crafting more persuasive, customer-centric proposals.
With an unmatched 25+ years of experience, more than 1,000 companies worldwide rely on Qvidian to meet deadlines, tame proposal content chaos, and increase win rates.
For a demo and to see how Qvidian fits your unique needs, contact an Upland Qvidian proposal and RFP response expert.