By Deidre Sommerkamp, Manager, Strategic Services at Qvidian
The rapid pace of change in the financial services industry is expected to continue in 2019 and beyond. So how do institutional investors, wealth management firms, private banks and others in the industry leverage technology to increase win rates in an industry of disruption and change?
In a word, automation. In the same way, some firms are getting ahead of regulatory changes, some are expertly using automation in their sales process to maximize efficiency, improve internal processes and strategies, shorten sales cycles and win more business.
One area these firms are focused on is the beginning of their sales process. They are streamlining the way they respond to Requests for Proposal (RFPs) and questionnaires (security assessments, due diligence, etc.). We’re seeing an increase in volume across our customer base. In a recent poll, 94% of customers we asked said they have seen an increase in RFP volume and complexity in the past 12-18 months. Even if they have the exact same number of questions, the questions ask for more detail. More information is needed to be deemed fully responsive.
Below are three best practices that financial services firms can implement to create responses to RFPs and questionnaires faster, giving them more time to focus on quality. In this industry, information across the sales cycle must be consistent to avoid triggering red flags that can eliminate a firm from consideration. When managing risk and money, accuracy and consistency is very important, not just in quantitative, but also in qualitative information.
Create a Content Library
Storing all approved, reusable content in a central repository that leverages automation will save not only time but also ensure everyone knows where the firm’s latest, greatest and compliant content resides. Response teams face short deadlines to craft responses. Your content library should be searchable and browsable with related content items linked together. Rather than rewriting these answers from scratch (reactive), teams can draw on this content each time a new RFP or questionnaire arrives, saving time and guaranteeing content is current.
Proposals are selling documents. They should have one voice and win theme throughout and be a positive touch point during the sales cycle. Having a content library also makes it easier to update content as products, investment strategies and your business evolves. A library that allows you to set expiration dates and review reminders will help you proactively manage your content. The time saved by having reusable content in a library can be redirected to improving its quality.
Avoid Generic Content. The antidote to commoditization is differentiation. Personalize your content in a way that communicates the value your prospect will receive from doing business with your firm. It’s important to distinguish your proposal from a large and competitive pack. Rather than simply cutting and pasting pertinent information, determine exactly what a prospect is looking for and address it head-on.
Implement Intelligent Workflows and Role-based Access Controls
Firms must be audit ready. By implementing intelligent review and approval workflows in their RFP and questionnaire automation, firms can track collaboration activity in real time and ensure an electronic audit trail. Teams should be able to see who created, edited and approved answers to questions. Reviews should be tracked with the author of each review and change recorded. The best automation solutions have tracking built-in so you are always audit-ready and no longer have to track this information manually.
Your content library should have configurable permissions for content access, allowing you to determine what people can do (view vs edit content) and what they can see (teams only have access to the content they need). This granular role-based access control will allow your firm to meet data privacy standards. It saves time when teams have access only to the content they need.
Track Deadlines, Approvals and Improve Strategically
When many stakeholders are involved in the creation and approval process, it can be difficult to keep track of who needs to submit what by when, and who is responsible for approvals. Making deadlines and ownership clear ensures proposal and response teams can follow up with subject matter experts, client management, technical experts, sales executives and other collaborators in a prompt manner, keeping the submission on time. In an era where there is so much turnover and succession, this tracking has never been more important.
To improve strategically, it’s important to have visibility. Create dashboards and track deadlines, approvals and key performance indicators including win rates (dollar value and must-wins), efficiency and output (response times, the percentage of reusable content taken from your library, turnaround time by collaborator – writers, SMEs, reviewers, etc.), request volume and content effectiveness.
Growth in the financial services industry during a time of disruption and change may be challenging, but it’s possible. Effectively responding to RFPs and questionnaires using automation to save time and improve quality is one way the best firms are leveraging technology to improve their win rates.