Lewis Miller talks about how procurement and sales can work closer together to make the proposal process more efficient
Technology-driven innovations in proposal management have reduced the time sales teams spend on the proposal process by around 40%, according to some estimates. Quick and insightful data analysis is creating a more streamlined journey that enables sellers to determine which bids they’re most likely to win and can, ultimately, increase win-rates by almost one-third.
However, while technology has advanced, many businesses have simply not kept up and are still using dated methods here, which costs them time, money, and valuable businesses opportunities.
Firstly, the interaction and sharing of information between different departments in a company has increased. As a result, systems must offer the ability to track and move content, allowing stakeholders to not only confirm accuracy but to certify compliance and ensure they’re delivering the most relevant information to the sales team.
Also, as sales teams are now required to follow the process of the buyer when submitting bid documentation, procurement teams now rely largely on the data within this documentation to filter through bids. Traditionally, Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Information (RFI) documentation contained lists of questions that sellers were required to answer, but this has evolved into a myriad of documents including pricing documents, compliance documents, due diligence and security questionnaires.
These ancillary documents are fairly standardised, often repeatedly asking the same questions and, even after business relationships have been formed, sellers are often asked to complete the documents on a regular basis. This has driven a need for feature and function sets to be more intelligent so that systems can recognise document types, rationalise the questions and predict the information required through smart search capabilities. This can increase the productivity of procurement when responding to RFPs and enable teams to secure new business more rapidly due to the ability to submit a higher volume of proposals at a time.
Proposal teams generally operate under great pressure with tight deadlines looming over their heads. Automated systems can help alleviate some of this pressure by answering such in a matter of minutes.
But, it is essential to also analyse the data. It resides in CRM, pricing and ERP systems and provides context to the kind of deal that sales teams are competing for. Digitally connected platforms help transfer and analyse these contextual data points between systems and this is increasingly important in gathering the intelligence required for generating the best possible responses to RFPs.
Teams must be more on-point with the content they’re using relative to buyer requirements, in order to outperform the competition. The ability to analyse the flow of data between these systems also enables teams to tie together highly valuable insights, and understand the factors contributing to their successes and failures.
The next step is looking at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be leveraged to better predict the type of content provided. Relevant information can be easily extracted from multiple databases. By merging data streams together, organisations can create documents more pertinent to each and every deal, providing better analytics for companies to be able to make better, more accurate and more effective decisions downstream.
The evolution of proposal management shows no sign of slowing, but keeping up to date and educated on these innovations will provide a big pay-off for both sales and procurement teams.
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.