Select the Proposal and RFP Software That’s Right for You
If you are in any way associated with the RFP process – part of sales, the RFP team, or a subject matter expert (SME) – you share one goal: to create winning documents quickly. As the quantity and complexity of requests for proposals (RFPs) continue to grow, response and sales teams are challenged to increase efficiency, so they can accomplish more with the same resources.
A recent Aberdeen study points out that RFP and proposal software is top of mind for many companies and with good reason. By automating the sales proposal process, organizations can improve win rates by leveraging up-to-date and strategic content, assembled in less time by fewer resources. This type of efficiency is a far cry from the sales proposals of old, when sales teams would be drowning in spreadsheets, cutting and pasting from old proposals, chasing after subject-matter experts (SMEs) with redundant questions, and using information – that may or may not be current.
Most organizations are all too aware of the challenges with manual sales proposal management, but within a crowded marketplace, how do they select the RFP software that is the best fit for their company? As the recent Aberdeen study indicates, it’s important to take the following steps before selecting your RFP software:
Set the End-Goal and Consider Your Use Cases
Before going down a rabbit’s hole of possible solutions, it’s important to determine what you hope to get from an RFP and proposal software. Are you looking to increase productivity, simplify reviews, leverage the right team members working on specific RFPs, or maintain up-to-date and compliant content so that your company will always be audit-ready? Or, maybe the ultimate goal is to prove your team’s value through demonstrable customer win-rates and other metrics. Determine what your highest priority goals are and make sure the vendor you shortlist can help with achieving your goals.
Put the Pieces in Place
Once clear goals are set, consider what features offered by solution providers are going to be important for your organization. Make sure that these features align with your organization’s use cases. Beyond sales proposals and RFP responses, your organization might also leverage the solution to accelerate response to security, compliance and due diligence questionnaires, or to create high-quality proactive sales content faster, such as statements of work and brand-compliant PowerPoint presentations. RFP software features might include a secure and current content library; intelligent answer recommendations or auto-fill capabilities for standard RFP questions; assignment workflows; dedicated Subject Matter Expert (SME) workspace for reviewing editing and collaborating on sales proposals; automatic activity tracking; user and role-based access or analytics and reporting. It’s important that the features of the RFP software align with your business goals.
Map out the Easiest Route to Adoption
According to Aberdeen, 36 percent of best-in-class companies surveyed said ease of use is one of the priorities when selecting RFP and sales proposal automation software. Before selecting a solution, make sure that it is easy to use, but also focus on the onboarding process and professional services that the vendor offers so that you are assured that users can get up-to-speed on the solution without missing a beat on pending sales proposals. Always remember, it’s important to focus on the RFP software’s ease-of-use, but if the solution is missing features and cannot align with your use cases or business goals, then it might not be a good fit in the long run.
Plan for the Long Haul
The early days of any relationship are always exciting and full of promise, but before selecting a vendor, find out how they plan to work with you for the long-term. Will they provide a dedicated training and support team? Will there be access to both live and on-demand training to suit your needs today and in the future? Are they considered thought leaders and innovators in the RFP and proposal industry? Regardless of the onboarding services your vendor provides, you should have the option to transition into an ongoing training and support plan — preferably, one that includes a single-named point-of-contact who gets to know your business needs and will become your trusted advisor for long-term success. It is also important to select a vendor that is trusted by your peers, and with a great track record. Choose a vendor that drives towards 100% customer success and one that continuously meets your goal to help you get the full value from your automation solution
When the right RFP and proposal software is chosen by your organization, there is no doubt that your process becomes more streamlined, efficient and strategic. Aberdeen research also indicates that adopting sales and marketing technologies can directly result in top-line revenue growth, higher profitability, higher customer retention, shorter sales cycles, and larger deal sizes. Selecting the right RFP software for your company could be the key to achieving your organization’s peak performance.