Like trying to navigate the Suez Canal in high winds and poor visibility, you can manage a proposal program without an RFP content manager, but is it really worth the risk? Without one, eventually your response management process–and revenue stream–will get clogged by subpar content.
An RFP content manager owns the comprehensive content management strategy for your organization’s proposal development. The person in this role will interface with subject matter experts (SMEs) and other key response stakeholders (e.g., proposal managers, sales managers, support managers, etc.), remove redundancy in your content library, ensure all content is clean and proposal-ready, and report monthly to the executive team to help demonstrate their value.
Even though it’s fairly obvious that there’s so much an RFP content manager can do for an organization, it can still be frustratingly difficult to justify the need for one with upper management. Hopefully, some of the information in this article will help you change mindsets from a “nice-to-have” approach to a “have-to-have” business imperative.
The biggest benefit of an RFP content manager
Your proposal team can stop splitting their time—already a scarce resource—between trying to respond to proposals AND managing content. When this shared-responsibility approach is attempted, everyone’s attention is fractured, and as soon a new proposal comes in the door, content management screeches to a halt. Proposal always takes precedence over content in a shared-responsibility scenario. Eventually, trust in content will be lost (as well as the bid), leading to resentment between teams. Imagine the finger-pointing if the Ever Given had two captains at the wheel when it went sideways.
Content is a pain point for everyone involved in a proposal. Managing the tag structure alone is a full-time job. With a full-time RFP content manager in place, you have a designated individual whose primary responsibility is to convert content from a pain point to a competitive differentiator. It also frees up the proposal team to respond to proposals as they come through the door. It will be the RFP content manager’s responsibility to interface with the proposal team in real-time to prioritize incoming Q&A pairs.
Business Case: The Numbers
The reason that RFP content managers are surrounded by a “nice-to-have” aura is because upper management doesn’t have a clear picture of the opportunity. There are many ways to surface the value that an RFP content manager will bring to your organization.
Numbers are hard to argue, even for the most budget-conscious CFO. A successful RFP content manager will enable all teams that develop client-facing proposals with “clean content,” which saved Microsoft an estimated $2.4 million. Then there’s the company that doubled its RFP win rate after hiring a full-time RFP content manager and discovered that, “When the entire team has access to the best content available, everyone is better off.”
Also, dig into your RFP win rate and percentage of revenue numbers to estimate how many more RFPs can be completed with an RFP content manager on board. Something to consider…we found that organizations with dedicated proposal professionals–which you’ll have when your new RFP content manager relieves the proposal manager of content management duties—submitted almost 3.5x more responses in 2020 than those without. Other numbers from our study that are relevant to your business case include:
- Companies with a designated RFP solution are 32% more likely to have strong content moderation procedures in place (i.e., they have the tools and time for content management).
- 90% of companies with designated RFP software prioritize content moderation to build trust among proposal stakeholders.
- The average RFP win rate in 2020 was 45% at an average deal size between US $1-3M (i.e. increase how many RFPs you respond to, increase your revenue).
Another key number is that a dedicated RFP content manager can reduce Q&A pairs in your Content Library by as much as 40-50% by removing duplicates and combining similar responses. I once had a Q&A pair with 43 versions of the answer. Each had its own flavor and no one could decide which was correct. Eventually, I trimmed it down to six. This was part of a 9-month undertaking to pare down the whole Content Library from 5,600 to 2,200 Q&A pairs! No way that happens on a part-time basis.
Ensuring Content Library purity will help your proposal team complete RFx’s more quickly and more accurately. I have a client who refers to this as “productivity density”, meaning you can complete more proposals, more accurately, in the same amount of time. It will provide the same benefits to those teams building proactive proposals, such as sales and customer support.
Business case: Being respectful of stakeholders’ time
An essential value offered by RFP content managers is their ability to protect SMEs’ time. Your content manager won’t just work with your SMEs, they’ll build relationships with them and truly partner with them. They’re invested in content just as much as the SME is, and they will want to work together to accomplish content updates and cyclical reviews.
Say an SME takes 10 minutes to review a Q&A pair. If you send them the same question in 14 ways, then you’re asking for 140 minutes of their time. Trim that down to two or three, and you’ll develop trust with SMEs in the content and in the proposal process.
There’s a numbers play here, too. It starts with identifying how much your SME’s time is worth down to the minute.
For example, say the average annual salary for an SME is $100K. That breaks down to about $0.38 per minute, or $3.80 per review of a Q&A pair (assuming it takes them 10 minutes to review). By reducing their review from 14 pairs to three pairs, you’re saving $41.80.
Now let’s extrapolate that savings out to annual production. After a content manager has trimmed redundant, outdated, and trivial content, you may well be left with 3,500 Q&A pairs instead of 6,200. That’s a 45% reduction. If you have six SMEs, they now only need to review about 600 Q&A pairs each, which means they can spend lots more time bringing value to your customers in their role.
This is also generating roughly $10,000 in savings for your company that can help you build a case for funding the content manager position.
Your numbers will vary, of course, depending on SME salary, average time reviewing Q&A pairs, and how many pairs an SME reviews annually. But this shows how you can hang tangible cost savings on a prospective full-time RFP content manager. Perform similar exercises to calculate cost savings for proposal managers, salespeople, customer support specialists, and any other personnel involved in generating proposals.
Business Case: Improve Content, Improve Proposals
Of course, we cannot forget the main reason you want an RFP content manager: content. They’ll be responsible for its proposal readiness 24/7/365. That includes:
- Making sure tagging is accurate and redundancy eliminated.
- Ensuring you don’t have client names or details in your content that could be submitted to a different client (a huge benefit to the entire organization when it comes to things like corporate and financial content).
- Performing white-glove reviews for all content so that the proposal builders who use it (e.g., proposal, sales, and support teams) can do so in RFP software without hesitation.
- Meet monthly with the proposal team to identify gaps and edits.
- Identify content used most frequently to prioritize it for updates and reviews.
The positive byproducts of their content focus will spread across your organization. Onboarding will be easier because the right content will always be located where it’s supposed to be. Brand management will be easier to monitor and update. Upper management will have greater visibility into content and proposal management thanks to the monthly reports delivered by the RFP content manager. By the way, you don’t need one for every line of business, especially if you have a response management platform like Responsive. The RFP content manager can do upfront legwork with multiple lines of business and then manage the processes of content development and auditing for all of them!
Remember, any proposal is only as good as its content. All the polish in the world cannot cover up inaccurate, poorly written, out-of-date, or irrelevant content. Respond to more RFPs, win more RFPs, earn more revenue. The fastest way to respond to more RFPs is by adding a full-time RFP content manager to keep the machine humming. Otherwise, your proposal development pipeline might end up being backed up into the Red Sea.
To learn more about how to build your case, check out my full webinar (below).