Globally, $11 trillion of revenue is won every year through responses to requests for proposals (RFPs). RFPs are a critical gateway to new sales opportunities, partnerships and high-value revenue streams. Yet, at most enterprises, this complicated (and often time-crunched) process is managed by lean teams of RFP directors, proposal managers and responders.
As RFPs are becoming more demanding – asking for more and more details about all aspects of not only your product offerings, but also your business – the work required to prepare a successful proposal is significantly increasing. On average, proposal professionals spend over 40 hours per week responding to an RFP. Every response involves wrangling time-burdened internal subject-matter experts (SMEs), tracking down relevant content that’s rarely efficiently organized and then rushing to prepare a standout proposal to meet a tight deadline.
It’s often a chaotic, inefficient process (at no fault of the proposal teams) that is long overdue for a tech overhaul. With the right enterprise RFP software solution, organizations can streamline every aspect of their response processes, unlock much-needed efficiencies with automation and AI and increase RFP win rates.
Keep reading to learn more about how enterprise RFP software can provide a critical boost to your sales process, and see which factors are most important to consider when choosing the right RFP software solution.
The enterprise problems you can solve with RFP software
RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle. Enterprise solutions are rarely inexpensive, so it’s no surprise that companies seeking to bring on a new vendor want to do their due diligence before signing off on a new partnership.
As a result, RFPs are often long and detailed, asking for a plethora of information. And for most enterprise solution providers, answering these questions is not an easy task. With thousands of employees across dozens – if not hundreds – of functions, company knowledge is scattered.
For RFP response teams, this provides a number of major challenges:
- Disjointed collaboration: RFP response teams are tasked with finding the right individuals who have the information needed to successfully answer questions on any number of disparate topics. With competing schedules and priorities, it’s often impossible to find protected time for dozens of SMEs to gather to collectively work on an RFP. So, RFP response teams almost always have to embark on a highly inefficient seek-and-find mission to gather the appropriate knowledge.
- Unorganized content: Throughout the knowledge collection process, RFP response teams have to not only search through existing company knowledge bases, but also stay organized with all of the content they’re amassing for any single RFP. At any company, but especially at large enterprises, relevant information is often decentralized across different systems, repositories and file types – making this task much harder.
- Rushed response submissions: RFPs often have short turnaround times. In addition to putting together responses, RFP and enterprise sales teams are also tasked with assessing which RFPs are even worth responding to. These calculations are complicated and difficult to accurately make, especially when deadlines are fast approaching.
An enterprise RFP solution brings essential project management to your proposal process, mitigating the pain points outlined above. Additionally, enterprise RFP software significantly shortens the time it takes to put together a successful proposal by centralizing knowledge, enabling effortless cross-functional collaboration and automating key steps of the process.
What can the best enterprise RFP software do for you?
The best enterprise RFP software will significantly shorten response times and allow you to create winning RFP bids every time. This increased efficiency and win rate optimizes RFP teams’ work time while driving increased revenue for your business. Microsoft was able to save $4.2M in just one year by massively simplifying the RFP response process with Responsive, the leading enterprise RFP software.
There are a number of core functions to look out for when assessing enterprise RFP software providers. You’ll want to make sure all of the following are available.
Searchable knowledge libraries
Enterprise RFP software centralizes all company knowledge in a single place. Platforms like Responsive easily integrate with CRMs, cloud storage solutions, productivity tools, and sales enablement applications to build a content library. Additionally, all past and future RFPs are stored in the system.
When putting together RFP responses, the onerous task of combing through disparate systems and files is completely eliminated. Instead, proposal managers can find answers to any question with an AI-enabled recommendation engine that scours your entire company’s content and knowledge base in seconds.
Easy cross-functional collaboration
Most RFPs are a team effort. RFP response teams need to collaborate with sales and other SMEs on a regular basis to craft a winning proposal. With conflicting schedules and other responsibilities, getting a timely response from colleagues is often a challenge.
RFP software enables users across your company to access any RFP from dozens of applications. Responsive, for example, enables company-wide collaboration through existing communication apps like Slack, Google Hangouts, Jira, and Microsoft Teams. When input is needed from a colleague, response managers can seamlessly tag the right person to add their expertise directly into the draft proposal.
Customized, visually impactful responses
Companies that put out RFPs are reviewing proposals from sometimes as many as dozens of different vendors. In order to stand out, you’ll want to make sure your proposal is scannable and impactful.
The best enterprise RFP software will automatically enhance your answers with tables, images and rich text. It should also enable easy export into source files, branded templates or even website pages.
The best enterprise RFP software comes with built-in intelligence that accelerates virtually every step of the proposal development process. At the outset, it can help you choose the most promising RFPs and RFIs to respond to, increasing your win rate.
When it comes time to drafting, RFP software like Responsive will save your responses from past RFPs and auto-fill answers to identical or similar questions. If you need help drafting a wholly new response, built-in generative AI will allow you to compose the perfect response using data and information directly from your content library.
And when it comes to formatting and branding, you won’t need to worry about a thing as the RFP software will automatically ensure that your company is well-represented.
Not just RFPs
The best enterprise RFP software will help you do more than just respond to RFPs. Strategic response management platforms like Responsive enable you to respond with confidence to every information request, including RFPs, RFIs, ESGs, RFQs, DDQs, security questionnaires and more.
Essential features to look for when selecting a platform
There are many considerations to take into account when choosing the best RFP software solution. At its most basic, your RFP software should ensure that you adhere to RFP best practices with every RFP you respond to. The best enterprise RFP software will boost efficiency across the board so that you gain 50% or more in productivity and increase your win rate by 20% or more.
Here are essential features to look out for when choosing an RFP platform for your organization.
To make the response process as seamless as possible, you’ll want to make sure that your RFP software integrates easily with all of your favorite apps. Be sure to ask vendors about their integrations when comparing options.
Leading enterprise RFP software providers like Responsive have dozens of integrations across CRMs, productivity software, communication apps, cloud storage solutions, SSO authenticators and more. This robust integration set allows for fast company-wide collaboration and easy access to information across the entire organization’s knowledge base.
One of the largest advantages of RFP software is the productivity boost you get from a centralized knowledge base. Instead of manually searching through different platforms, storage solutions and files, response teams can find the right content directly in the RFP software.
Your enterprise RFP software should also automatically store previous RFP responses and proposals. Many RFPs ask similar questions – intelligent enterprise RFP software should be able to save a massive amount of time by recognizing repetitive questions and automatically drafting answers based on past responses.
AI writing tools
We’re all well aware by now of how game-changing generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard can be. These tools simplify and significantly speed up the copywriting process.
When comparing RFP response platforms, look for AI writing tools. The best software providers will have a Gen Al tool integrated directly into the platform that will comb through your knowledge base and draft answers in seconds – a process that takes hours otherwise.
Speaking of (artificial) intelligence, the best enterprise RFP software will also provide your RFP response teams with critical insights that give your company a competitive advantage. Not all RFPs are created equal: some are more complicated than others and your chance of winning is not necessarily always the same.
Platforms like Responsive offer insights that help you decide whether to respond to each RFP and RFI that comes in using built-in intelligence. That way, you can focus your efforts on the opportunities that will have the greatest payoff.
Security and compliance
Protecting your organization’s data is paramount. Because a standout RFP response platform will be a centralized company knowledge base and house confidential information, assessing the security features of different software providers is essential.
Be sure that your vendor’s software is developed securely and that it has a well-architected system that follows industry best practices for hardening, isolation, availability, and recovery. It should also have access controls, encryption, vulnerability management and comply with global data/consumer privacy regulations.
Questions to ask when choosing enterprise RFP software
As you assess different enterprise RFP software solutions, be sure to ask the following questions:
- How easy is it to use the platform?
- What type of onboarding or training support do you provide?
- What does your pricing structure look like?
- Is there a limit on the amount of users that can access the platform?
- Which apps or software do you integrate with?
- Do you support integrations with other systems?
- What type of customer support do you provide?
How Responsive can improve your enterprise RFP process
All of the essential features and functions we covered in this article are available in Responsive, the #1 enterprise RFP software solution according to G2 for four years and counting. Responsive is trusted by the world’s best response teams at companies like Adobe, ADP, Atlassian, BlackRock, Cigna, Dow Jones, Meta, Fujitsu, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, SAP and Shopify.
As a complete strategic response management platform, Responsive enables enterprise organizations to swiftly respond to every information request, including RFPs, RFIs, ESGs, DDQs, security questionnaires and more. With features like LookUp and a robust AI-powered content library, Responsive accelerates the response process, automating tedious and repetitive tasks while enabling seamless cross-functional collaboration and communication.