Connect, learn and strategize at Responsive Summit 2023. Also, check out the blog about our rebrand.


Start Responding Like a Pro

The RFPIO blog is full of insights and best practices, giving you the tools you’ll need to streamline your process and respond with confidence.

3 key proposal management skills and resources to improve them

3 key proposal management skills and resources to improve them

What proposal management skills are required to win? Explore resources for bid and proposal management professional development here.

Category: Tag: Proposal management solution

3 key proposal management skills and resources to improve them

3 key proposal management skills and resources to improve them

For many businesses, responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) is a regular occurrence. Every RFP is a sales opportunity that can contribute to business growth. The success of each proposal hinges on its execution. Accordingly, the practice of proposal management makes a significant impact on the final outcome.  

If you respond to RFPs, you already know that proposal management requires a diverse set of skills. Identifying and honing each skill can quickly help improve your proposal process and your win rate. 

In this post, we’ll explore what proposal management is, who is responsible for it, the key skills it requires and resources to help along the way. With this information, you’ll be more efficient, effective and successful as you manage the proposal process.

Proposal management defined

Before we jump into the skills required, let’s quickly define what proposal management is. Proposal management is the process of overseeing and facilitating the completion of a proposal. It includes planning the timeline, hitting send on the final proposal submission and everything in between.

Who is responsible?

Large organizations typically have a dedicated proposal team. The proposal department is led by a proposal manager. They work with a team of proposal coordinators, graphic designers and writers. Their sole focus is producing winning proposals.

For small and mid-sized businesses, hiring a proposal manager is a luxury that may not be in the budget. To fill the gap, proposal management duties may fall to an individual in a variety of departments. In these situations, the person responsible for proposal management may simply be taking on the role out of necessity. However, it’s not their primary job function. Who the RFP is assigned to and why varies from one business to another.

Common roles in proposal management

  • Salesperson ⁠— They have the best insights and understanding of the potential client’s needs, they provide context that will help differentiate the proposal from others
  • Marketing team member⁠ — They have deep knowledge of the business as well as the competitive market and can present a proposal that looks professional and stands out
  • Business operations ⁠— They have close relationships with many different departments, can coordinate with subject matter experts and have visibility to big-picture business objectives

3 key skills for successful proposal management

No matter the role, if you find yourself responsible for proposal management you’ll benefit from brushing up on several key skills. Explore these areas to successfully manage the proposal process and save time.

  • Project management
  • Knowledge management
  • Content editing

1. Project management

Project management is the core of an efficient and effective proposal process. The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “…the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” If you have previously managed a proposal you can probably look back at the process you used and see how it might overlap with this definition. Whether you knew it at the time or not, you were project managing.

The stats about project management are impressive. An estimated 77 percent of high-performing projects use project management software. While 97 percent of organizations believe that project management is critical to business performance and organizational success. Apply project management principles to proposal management to see big benefits.

Project management for proposals can be broken down into five steps:
  1. Initiate
    Receive and evaluate the RFP request and conduct a bid or no bid analysis
  2. Plan
    Outline the proposal process and all of the involved contributors, reviewers and stakeholders
  3. Execute
    Find and reuse previous RFP answers and send updates and new questions to subject matter experts
  4. Monitor and control
    Track response progress, follow up for approvals and update stakeholders as needed
  5. Close
    Review and compile all elements, seek final approval and submit the completed proposal

Proposal management requires a great deal of careful planning and facilitation. Coordinating between half a dozen departments, making sure no details are missed and trying to meet a deadline can be overwhelming. But, using the five steps of project management can help make the proposal process more manageable.  

Project management resources:

Managing smaller and medium-sized projects ⁠— Ebook by Dr. Jim Young, PMP

This ebook is full of great insights that will help build your project management skills. It includes roles and responsibilities, terminology, templates and more. It’s free and well worth your time.

Projectified ⁠— Podcast produced by PMI

This podcast is perfect for brushing up your skills and learning the latest trends in project management. With most episodes clocking in at under 20 minutes, it’s a great way to spend your daily commute.

2. Knowledge management

Chances are you’re not the first person at your company to be tasked with responding to an RFP. Every proposal, past and future, is a significant business investment. The detailed research, business insights and skillful storytelling that go into a proposal represent hours of work. But what happens to that knowledge once the proposal has been submitted? Does it just get filed away to collect dust?

The practice of knowledge management (KM) keeps valuable information from going to waste. Author, speaker and KM pioneer, Tom Davenport, offered this succinct summary of knowledge management, “Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.” Davenport gave that definition in 1994 and the practice of knowledge management has grown steadily since. The Market Research Future reports that global investment in knowledge management software will soon hit $33 billion. 

Applying knowledge management to your proposal content can save hours and days of work. for proposal managers and SMEs alike. Subject matter experts trust you to ask the right questions, save that knowledge and use it again. One sign that proposal management is being done well is that over time, SMEs will need to write fewer and fewer new answers. As the knowledge library grows, it saves even more time as common questions and answers are tagged, categorized and continually updated. Knowledge management allows SMEs to focus on their day-to-day work because proposal content is easy to find and reuse.

In addition to improving efficiency, KM protects your business from loss. For example, if one of your key stakeholders leaves the business, they take their knowledge with them ⁠— unless you’ve retained it in the knowledge library. If responses are stored in the knowledge library, new, onboarding team members can find crucial information quickly.

Knowledge management resources:

Responsive RFP software

This platform is designed specifically for response management. Its robust Content Library makes it easy to collect, categorize, collaborate on and search for RFP responses within the Content Library. It also captures data about who authored the question, when it was last updated and how many times it’s been used. Responsive integrates with the most popular CRMs, productivity and communication tools. 

Five tenets of corporate knowledge management infographic ⁠—  University of Southern California

From benefits to best practices, this infographic offers a high-level view of knowledge management. The ideas can easily be applied to proposal knowledge management.

3. Content editing

The best proposals tell a story. They are engaging, interesting and they clearly express why partnering with your business will benefit the buyer. Unlike a traditional story that has one author, a proposal has many. Unifying the perspectives and voices of all your subject matter experts into one cohesive narrative is a challenge. Excellent proofreading, editing and writing skills are critical to proposal management.

Writing compelling proposal content isn’t easy. You’ll find that while your SMEs all contribute vital expertise, they may communicate it in very different ways. Some people will relay the facts in the most concise way possible, while others may add unnecessary detail that could confuse the reader. Merely copying and pasting RFP answers is risky. It can create an unprofessional, disjointed narrative with an inconsistent style and tone. 

The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) offers a great editing checklist. In general, you’ll want to carefully review each answer for three things:

  1. Content
    Does it answer the question? Does it provide the required information in the requested style?
  2. Tone
    Does it sound and look like your brand? Does the tone sound consistent throughout the proposal?
  3. Grammar
    Is everything formatted, spelled, capitalized and punctuated correctly?

In a proposal with hundreds of questions, reviewing each question may seem overwhelming. However, this is where the value of your knowledge library comes into play again. If you consistently add your RFP answers to the library, you’ll have a head start with proposal content you’ve already edited. You can simply customize the answer to the customer and move forward.

Quick tips for proposal content editing:

  • Write in an active voice as much as possible ⁠⁠— it creates a more confident and knowledgeable tone
  • Create a style sheet to share with SMEs like this one: APMP style sheet template
  • Strike a balance to make sure your content isn’t too dry, but also not too fluffy and verbose
  • Format the proposal in a way that makes it visually approachable and scannable, include bullet points where possible
  • Include the proposal cover letter and any other standard documentation in your content editing review

Content editing resources:

LinkedIn Learning ⁠— Online video courses

These quick courses are great for brushing up on grammar, copy editing, identifying active voice and more. There are even quick videos that cover proposals if you’re looking for even more tips and tricks.

Online style and grammar tools: 

Grammarly ⁠— Available as a free web app or a Chrome extension, Grammarly will offer suggestions to fix spelling and grammatical errors

ReadablePro ⁠— With Readable, you can quickly check your proposal’s readability, tone and sentiment. It will also identify passive voice, long sentences and cliches to avoid

Winning skills

Proposal management is a balancing act and time to focus on learning new skills is short. However, simply improving your awareness of the skills proposal management requires will help you create more effective proposals and win more business. Luckily, project management, knowledge management and content editing skills are almost universally useful. So, spending time improving them will serve you well no matter how many proposals you manage.

If you’re ready to take your proposal management skills to the next level, request a Responsive demo to see how technology helps maximize efficiency, centralize knowledge and automate processes.

Proposal templates, formats and tools: Create better RFP responses faster

Proposal templates, formats and tools: Create better RFP responses faster

Responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) can be stressful. There are so many questions to answer. For instance, what information should you include? How do you make your RFP response memorable? What are the best proposal templates to use? How do you make your business stand out from competitors that offer similar solutions?  What should your proposal design look like? Where will you find the time to gather all the necessary information?

These questions are common. And, in this article, we’ll answer them as we cover these topics:

Investing in an RFP strategy

Naturally, everyone understands the potential value of winning an RFP. Unfortunately, far too often, businesses don’t concern themselves with the cost.

On average, most organizations spend 30 hours on every RFP response, and their win rate is only 10%. In other words, they respond to 10 RFPs, spending a total of 300 hours, before they win a single deal.

That’s a significant investment of time and money. And in some cases, it’s a gamble that doesn’t pay off.

The average cost of responding to an RFP

Let’s estimate the cost of creating an RFP response. It’s fair to assume that the RFP response work is done mostly by a proposal manager. On average, according to recent data from, they average around $106,000 per year. Using that figure, we can quantify just how costly the proposal process really is.

Broken down by hour, proposal managers earn about $50.00. If they were the only proposal team members involved in the process, it would cost $1,500.00 to respond to an RFP.

However, you also must consider that many of those hours are worked by subject matter experts (SMEs) as well as executive reviewers and approvers. Typically, these experts and executives earn substantially more than proposal managers. With this in mind, it’s easy to create a picture of the true cost of creating proposals and responding to RFPs.

Additionally, when sales and marketing efforts are included to calculate the total cost, most organizations spend thousands more to win a single deal.

Mark Vignolo, Manager of Sales and Engineering at Viewpoint, faced this problem first-hand.

“Common RFPs we received had 200-300 questions, all listed in Excel. Issues really started to show up when we had to split those questions out to different people.” Mark said. “We tended to lose a lot of time just handing it off and bringing the information back.”

Fortunately, there are tried and true strategies for increasing the return on investment for responding to RFPs.

5 strategies to improve your RFP ROI

To improve RFP ROI, you must reduce proposal response time (efficiency) and increase proposal wins (effectiveness).

Here are the primary ways to accomplish those goals:

  1. Use proven proposal templates — RFP response templates give you a head start and a format to follow as you customize your proposal to meet your customers’ needs.
  2. Learn from RFP response examples — Sometimes, instructions in a template can’t paint the full picture. In that case, seeing a completed proposal example for a service similar to yours is helpful.
  3. Improve consistency with a response to RFP outline — An RFP outline ensures you include all the crucial elements of a proposal in the first draft. Consequently, it helps you avoid rework as the RFP deadline rapidly approaches.
  4. Leverage proposal management software with RFP automation — Proposal management software is transformative when it comes to speeding up your proposal process. Specifically, it centralizes your proposal content library, improves SME and executive collaboration, empowers RFP automation and streamlines workflows.
  5. Explore proposal tools to improve writing, design and messaging There are a lot of great (and affordable) RFP response tools that speed your proposal timeline while improving your chances of winning the RFP.

Thanks to the knowledge and experience of our founders, internal RFP experts, customers and independent research, we put together a list of the best proposal templates, RFP response examples, proposal formats and tools you can use to simplify your RFP process.

Beyond the tools covered here, we can also learn how to create a successful RFP response process from customer stories.

The best proposal templates

The quickest way to consistently create RFP responses that work is by following a successful proposal template. Proposal templates offer a strong foundation to start from when building your proposal.

However, customization is crucial. No two RFPs are ever exactly the same, therefore, no two RFP responses should be identical. Remember, the organization you’re responding to has unique needs and challenges. Make sure you tailor your proposal messaging to best showcase how your business is the perfect fit to help them meet their goals.

Free marketing proposal template

Hubspot has dozens of free proposal templates geared toward any sort of organization. This marketing proposal template stands out as comprehensive and very well put together. 

It includes:

  • Tips such as adding proposed team member headshots along with their titles and profiles
  • A pricing calculator to help you avoid mathematical errors
  • Step-by-step, fill-in-the-blank template for creating a proposal that engages your leads and demonstrates why it’s important for the client to use your company as a tool for success
  • Proven, actionable messaging strategies that improve client conversion rates (and why what you’re saying is important)

5-page proposal template

This proposal template, created by consultant Jonathan Stark, is built for entrepreneurs, but it’s perfect for almost any organization. It was designed to “show you how to write proposals in a fraction of the time, increase your close rate and stop leaving money on the table.”

Jonathan Stark, the consultant who created the template, reports that he has closed “well over seven figures of business with this exact template.”

It covers:

  • How to structure the proposal
  • How many options to provide
  • Why you should focus on benefits, not deliverables
  • How to anchor your prices to the outcome, not your hours
  • What pricing terms to include
  • What to negotiate — and what not to negotiate!

Additional RFP response templates

These sites also offer free proposal templates:
  1. OpenOffice – Proposal and RFP response templates in Word and Office Suite compatible programs
  2. – Free downloadable proposal templates that are heavily designed and primarily focus on vendors who provide professional services
  3. Smartsheet – Offers RFP response templates in Word, Google docs and PDF
  4. Fedmarket – If you’re pursuing federal opportunities, this template is designed for government RFP opportunities and popular in the federal contracting world

Excellent RFP response examples

If you’ve found a proposal template you like, but still need some inspiration for filling it out, look no further. These five RFP response examples come from five different industries. However, each of them is memorable thanks to their content or their format. For inspiration, explore these proposal examples and make note of the things that you liked or didn’t like. Then, add those to your proposal template.

LCG Pence Construction education construction RFP response example

While this proposal example doesn’t include all of our recommended RFP outline sections, it stands out for its professionalism and use of visual elements. Indeed, the cover page, table of contents and cover letter provide a good introduction. And, later in the proposal, the company provides bios with photos, project plans and charts to reinforce their expertise.

5by5 website design and development proposal example

The messaging in this proposal is what stands out. Indeed, the proposal is friendly, approachable and inspiring. In addition, 5by5 does a great job of highlighting key information like their business culture, a project timeline and straightforward pricing.

JanPro Cleaning Systems proposal example

This proposal example is very easy to read and includes bullet-pointed lists, short paragraphs and company branding. In addition, the company provides its standard cleaning contract to speed the closing process if selected.

KnowInk RFP response example for polling services

This proposal is a good example of a winning bid because we know this company went to contract with the customer. Government proposals tend to be fairly dry and visually uninteresting, so KnowInk stood out by using modern graphics in their brand colors. This sample RFP is heavily redacted due to the sensitive details included, but it still offers a good example of a proposal format that wins.

Recommended RFP outline

There is no one-size-fits-all proposal outline because some industries have particular requirements. However, there are key elements almost every proposal should have.

Below is a standard proposal outline along with professional tips and ideas to keep in mind while you’re writing. To create your outline, review the RFP and jot down a few ideas for each of these sections. Then, you can quickly work from your outline to create focused messaging that resonates with your prospect.

1. RFP cover letter

First things first — introduce yourself. Your RFP cover letter offers the buyer a first impression of your company. In addition, it can be used to create or deepen your connection with the customer, reinforce your expertise and quickly highlight your key differentiators. In the cover letter section of your RFP outline, you should include space for these main components:

  • Addressees
  • Greeting and introduction
  • Summary of RFP needs
  • Your qualifications and differentiators
  • Thank you and closing
Here’s a helpful example so you can see it in action. More info: For additional advice and a step-by-step guide, read our RFP cover letter blog.

2. Executive summary

In the second part of your RFP outline, the executive summary, you must convey the benefits you deliver while you show the client that you understand their challenge or need. Remember, the person reading this page is likely very busy, needs a high-level overview and is a big influence on the final outcome. Therefore, executive summary best practices focus on high-impact, but short messaging.

Executive summary best practices

  • Keep your message customer-centric
  • Be brief
  • Leverage your knowledge library
  • Make sure it makes sense without the help of the proposal
  • Follow instructions exactly
Here’s a good example of what your RFP executive summary should look like:

Ultimately, the executive summary helps the buyer decide if they’re going to continue reading, quickly skim your proposal or forget about it entirely.

More info: How to write a winning RFP executive summary—er, briefing (with template)

3. About us

The about us section — also known as the management overview — explains your story and qualifications. Brag about yourself a little. Set yourself apart from the competition by being creative about your strengths.

You aren’t small; you’re adaptive. You aren’t inexperienced; you bring a fresh new perspective. Be proud of your accomplishments. This is your time to shine, to show the client what makes you unique.

Without tooting our own horn, we think the About page on our website can give you a good idea of how to handle this section. Just like on a website, the about us section of your proposal is all about demonstrating your strengths and how those strengths will benefit the reader.

4. Answers to RFP questions

Specific customer questions and your responses are what make RFPs such a useful tool for comparing vendors. So, in this section, you’ll work to create winning RFP responses with your proposal team.

Pay attention to the content and length of your answers. While you want your answers to be thorough and customer-centric, you don’t want to make reading this section a chore. It’s always a good idea to check your proposal content library for similar questions you’ve answered in the past to save time.

5. Project schedule

Lay out the contract schedule using milestones and key dates. This will help the client visualize where they’ll be in the future.

What will their world look like? Detail when you will finish certain tracks of work and what outcomes the client can expect. Don’t get into specifics just yet—you can sort that out in the implementation plan.

6. Contract details

How will you manage the contract in terms of supervision, communication and quality assurance? What will you need from the customer to succeed? Will you conduct status meetings? How often? What sort of specific information will you report? Will the customer’s main contact transition to a customer success representative?

Use this section to reassure your customer that you have a strong process in place. Give them the outline of your plan to keep them engaged and satisfied.

7. Implementation plan

Here’s where you can sort out the details of your onboarding and roll-out plan. The work plan should tie into the overall schedule summary and will likely include some assumptions and time estimates. A matrix is a great way to display this information. Some people like to use week 0, week 1, etc. instead of specific dates. That is especially helpful if you don’t have a firm start date mandated. Just try to be as specific as possible. Other details to cover include:

  • Risks or potential problems
  • Location of the work or team (on-site, off-site)
  • Project staffing (by name or job title)
In most cases, the project manager handles the implementation plan. Just remember to set realistic timelines and expectations that set your team up for success.

8. Price

You can’t expect to close a deal without working through the price. That’s where your proposal budget comes into play.

When creating a proposal budget, you must consider five key factors:

  • Salaries
  • Research and development
  • Travel costs
  • Operational expenses
  • Profit margin
The goal is basically to show the prospect what they can expect to pay and to justify the cost.

9. References and case studies

Your potential customer wants to see proof and examples of your past successes. Generally, they are most interested in companies that had a similar need and want to read case studies. Sometimes they also want to talk to references, so having client advocates is always really helpful.

An inside look at proposal management software

Key time-saving features of RFP response software

RFP management software is designed to make the proposal process more efficient and effective. There are a number of key features that make that possible. For example, an intelligent proposal content library to store RFP responses, a customized proposal template library, collaborative workflow tools and more.

We know that, sometimes, seeing is believing. So, below we’ll explore these features and provide an inside look at how they work in Responsive.

Proposal content management
We’ve all heard that content is king. But it’s not enough to just create it; we have to be able to find it, update it and collaborate to optimize it. RFP software can help:

Your RFP system centralizes your RFP knowledge and answers, making it easy to find and update past responses. It also tracks edits, sends reminders to update responses and provides key RFP data.

Proposal template library
Store and reuse your most successful proposals so you can quickly create consistent, winning RFP responses.

Collaborate with your proposal team and SMEs
RFP response software is cloud-based. Consequently, version control becomes a thing of the past. Multiple stakeholders and SMEs can work on answers at the same time, making it easy to collaborate on proposals.

Manage the proposal process
For proposal managers, RFP software makes tracking progress easy. RFP management dashboards provide real-time updates on each task. These are visible to contributors as well so they always know what to do next.

Ultimately, the important thing is that RFP Software should streamline the RFP process ⁠— saving you time and winning more bids.

Tips and tools for proposal writing and design

In addition to RFP software, there are a lot of RFP response tools available to make your messaging more effective and your proposal process more efficient. Below you’ll find some of my favorites.

Guides to creating great content

10 simple edits that will instantly improve any piece of writing
Let’s start with some basic guidelines for writing any kind of content. Hubspot created this post to serve as a quick reference and reminder for writers. It explores how to make your content readable, relatable and engaging.

A writing GPS: The step-by-step guide to creating your next piece of content
This infographic, by the talented Ann Handley, walks through the writing process. From setting goals to reviewing, it provides guidance to ensure your final proposal achieves your goals and is error-free.

801 power words that pack a punch and convert like crazy
Sometimes, simple word substitution makes a big difference. Rather than digging through a thesaurus, start with this post from SmartBlogger about power words. It offers a list of words that are impactful and leave a lasting impression.

Proposal design tools

Just like we dress for success, we should likewise ensure our proposals are both professional and visually appealing. Including photos and infographics engages the reader and illustrates your value and data.

Free resources for photos

  • Unsplash — A constantly growing collection of free photos
  • PicJumbo — Another great collection of photos including a wide range of subjects
  • Hubspot — Hubspot put together an exhaustive list of free stock photo sites
  • Gratisography – Unique and quirky photos
  • Smithsonian Open Access — 2.8 million historic, iconic public domain photos

Free resources for proposal infographics and editing

  • Canva — Free resource to create proposal templates and infographics
  • Venngage — Source for easy-to-create infographics 
  • Piktochart — Create attractive charts to illustrate powerful data

RFP response best practices from experts

Of course, all of the above proposal templates, tools and RFP response format examples won’t do any good if you don’t know how to use them to create compelling content that helps you win new deals.

That’s why we’ve compiled advice from sales and marketing experts to help you develop proposals that win.

Be thorough, but simple

“Companies spend a substantial amount of time and energy creating an RFP that will level the playing field for their potential vendors and garner the exact information they need to reach a decision. Give them what they ask for. When we prepared our RFP responses, we were thorough, but simple. We made our pitch early and often, providing only the necessary details to illustrate why our company could add more value than our competitors. Including information outside of the set guidelines may cause your proposal to be bypassed.”

Tom Gimbel, CEO, LaSalle Network

Address the challenges your prospect wants to overcome

“Instead of focusing on what you have to offer your prospect, your proposals should focus on the key problems your prospect wants to solve. In particular, the beginning portions of your proposals should address the challenges your prospect wants to overcome. This will effectively turn your proposals into working documents that outline specific client objectives—a powerful tool.”

Marc Wayshak, founder of Sales Strategy Academy and best-selling author of Game Plan Selling

Don’t confuse your reader

“Acronyms, technical slang and other jargon will turn your reader off faster than a sleazy pitch. Don’t confuse your reader by trying to sound smart, that’s bad for sales and bad for you.”

Mary Cullen, founder and president of Instructional Solutions and internationally recognized business writing trainer and executive writing coach

How to use your new RFP response toolkit

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry. We covered a lot — from RFP response templates to proposal format advice, expert tips and more. But putting it all together is easier than you might think.

  • First, select the RFP response template that works best for your situation
  • Then, use the formatting advice to customize the content in the most effective way possible
  • Next, evaluate which tools and technology will best support your RFP response process
  • Finally, look over the expert tips and advice to ensure your proposal content is compelling, and persuasive and positions your organization to win

Not too bad, right? Now, you have all the tools and resources to efficiently and effectively respond to your next RFP.

Why every proposal manager deserves a round of applause

Why every proposal manager deserves a round of applause

Proposal managers are the front line of the organization. Your influence is never more apparent than during the RFP response process.

You’re accountable for implementing the RFP response process and flow. This includes all aspects of that process, from assigning tasks and maintaining content quality to leading your team and crafting the overall proposal narrative.

You’re an honorary member of the sales team, a skilled content manager, and an unmatched project manager. In celebration of proposal managers everywhere, here are just some of the reasons you deserve a round of applause for all that you do.

Proposal managers are an extension of the sales team

RFP responses are critical components for winning new business. As a proposal manager, you play “an assist” in closing the deal, passing the ball to sales so they can shoot and score. Ultimately, you’re an extension of the sales team—and they need all the assists they can get.

68% of salespeople do not have enough time to devote proper attention to sales activities. It behooves the organization to provide an automated RFP process so you properly assist your sales department to do what they do best: Land big deals.

Effective proposal managers recognize that RFP responses are an opportunity to tell a narrative in such a way that distinguishes the organization from the competition. As RFP responses are often the first impression for a new prospect, it’s crucial that you and your team nail the messaging.

It’s up to you to craft the most compelling narrative and weave it through each RFP response to capture the attention of prospects and clients. Pull all of this off and you help your sales team land big deals, making you a major value-add to your sales organization.

Proposal managers are masterful content managers

Content management used to be reserved for the marketing department. Now, with the surge in content creation needs throughout the organization, proposal managers are taking their rightful place as skilled content managers.

Often RFP responses involve multiple writers from various departments. As you already know, getting everyone’s contributions well before the deadline is mission-critical. And, it’s certainly no easy task.

Effective proposal managers draw from an updated content library and coordinate responses across many SMEs to deliver the highest caliber RFP. So, how are busy proposal managers pulling this off exactly? They’re using technology to do the heavy lifting.

RFP software offers a myriad of content management benefits so proposal managers like yourself easily curate a centralized content library, ensuring the best and most accurate responses are always within reach.

Centralized and updated

A centralized RFP content library is your go-to source for organizing, storing, and accessing company content. Within the content library, you initiate and schedule content audit cycles, effectively auditing content at your chosen schedule and not during a pressing RFP deadline.

User-friendly and searchable

RFP software is user-friendly and searchable. The technology learns from you—the more you use it, the smarter it gets. RFP software delivers a content library that suggests highly relevant responses to save you time. Automated responses can be revised and customized to suit messaging themes and requirements.

Accurate and compliant

Response content must be factual, accurate, and compliant. RFP software functions as a risk management tool as well as a content management tool. Thanks to the Content Library functionality and unlimited user licenses, simply set up quarterly compliance reviews as part of your content audits and assign new responses to a compliance officer for final approval.

Proposal managers are dexterous project managers

Although you may have the best intentions with execution, internal processes may not support your admirable efforts. When it comes to your day-to-day responsibilities, the stakes are high. This pressure can easily lead to proposal manager burnout.

84% of proposal managers are mired in antiquated RFP processes where Google Docs, text files, spreadsheets, paper documents—and even emails—are the norm. Of course, this fragmented “process” is hardly a process at all. If you still rely on this type of manual RFP response process, you’re technically more of a magician than a project manager.

You deserve an intuitive RFP process, which is made possible when you take advantage of RFP software. RFP software accelerates efficiency, saves time, and elevates the RFP process into an expertly-coordinated strategy.

Whether you orchestrate all of your RFP projects manually, or with the support of RFP software, you’re doing what it takes to help your organization succeed. This is far beyond being a great project manager; this makes you a champion for your organization.

RFPs may not be a priority for everyone within your organization, but you know what they don’t: that responding to RFPs is a direct path to growth. Your organization would not be where it is today without your hard work. You are your organization’s superhero, and that deserves a round of applause.

Alright, superhero…ready to do even more in your proposal management role? RFPIO is here to help you drive efficiency and results.

AI proposal management software FAQs you need to know

AI proposal management software FAQs you need to know

Marketing teams are familiar with the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). But, did you know that proposal management AI is already happening?

78% of marketers in proposal management said using automated technology to execute more with less resource strain was their top priority. AI proposal management software is the next evolution in automating your RFP response process so you can achieve even more.

You have questions about how AI will impact your marketing role in today’s landscape. Below we have answers to commonly asked questions to help you understand your untapped potential with AI proposal management software.

11 AI proposal management software FAQs

1. What is artificial intelligence (AI)?

Put simply, artificial intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that deals with simulating human intelligence and behaviors in computer systems.

2. Are artificial intelligence and machine learning the same?

No. Machine learning is an AI system that has the ability to self-analyze and improve its code in order to more efficiently arrive at an outcome. In AI systems that are not machine learning, the programming is somewhat deterministic. You put together a “narrow” AI system to solve a specific problem, then predict the outcomes based on the inputs.

3. How is proposal management AI changing our industry?

The biggest thing that proposal management AI will change in our industry is prompting digital transformation. To truly leverage what AI offers, all of your systems must connect and share data with each other to add value across touchpoints. Artificial intelligence is a competitive advantage for response teams who leverage these capabilities.

Proposal management AI is also ushering an era of enterprise-level database requirements for content. AI is most powerful when it has a huge database to train itself on. If your RFP content library is not a clean and reliable database, this hinders the effectiveness of AI. To highly automate with AI, an organized content database is a key step in digital transformation.

4. How is AI proposal management software benefitting teams?

High-performing response teams use AI proposal management software to efficiently intake and qualify opportunities. Analyzing projects without AI takes a lot of time, which involves reading through previous proposals and reports then taking the best guess about the outcome.

AI systems help you understand whether or not you should bid by analyzing and comparing previous RFP projects. Teams see the win potential and what resources might be required based on the average length of a project. Proposal management AI offers more strategic planning overall.

AI is changing the way teams “shred” their RFPs, making it easier to break up relevant sections, auto-identify response content, and assign questions to subject matter experts. We’re starting to see tone and sentiment analysis as well.

This capability will help reviewers adjust content to convey a more positive feeling by identifying a word that sounds negative, so you find a more suitable adjective that results in stronger content.

5. What kind of automation will we see with proposal management AI?

Proposal management AI will consistently take over repetitive and mundane tasks that responders do today (but they don’t really want to do), such as:

  • Answering common, repetitive questions
  • Producing basic boilerplate copy
  • Exporting document formatting
  • Analyzing win-loss opportunities
  • Making bid/no-bid recommendations based on big-data analytics

AI looks at tens of thousands of past RFPs and connects the dots between the CRM wins and the products or the copy chosen in the RFPs. At APMP Bid & Proposal Con, one attendee said this type of analysis would take 30+ years for his team to complete manually.

6. What are the current AI capabilities the Responsive platform?

Responsive has the RFP response automation elements we just discussed, including auto-responses and an answer recommendation engine that proposal teams have been using for years.

With a well-maintained content library, it’s common to see Responsive users complete 60-70% of their RFP autonomously. The time given back to these proposal professionals allows them to develop higher quality content where personalization is needed, as well as put forth more proposals for more opportunities.

We’re starting to do bid fit analysis and later we will have sentiment analysis. As we begin to introduce natural language processing (NLP), responders will require significantly less intervention to shred and analyze requirements. Future AI capabilities are exciting and pretty limitless. As AI technology advances, so will Responsive.

7. How can our team prepare for proposal management AI?

Make sure you have a future-ready team in place that is capable of making digital transformation happen. And, of course, make sure that team leverages AI proposal management software to its fullest capacity.

When choosing RFP software, the platform should plug into all of your data through system integrations. Your systems need to work cross-functionally and proposal teams should be able to collaborate together efficiently within those systems.

8. How much time will our team save with AI proposal management software?

That all depends on how much time your team spends on repetitive tasks today that could be handled by AI proposal management software. And, what you do with the time you ultimately win back.

If you’re not answering the same question a thousand times, what can you achieve with that extra time? Maybe you level up the content you have in your content library to create winning proposals. You put more time into thinking about new avenues for generating revenue. And, you respond to RFPs you didn’t have time to before. Positive results will compound quickly.

9. Will AI proposal management software write all of my RFP responses?

The day AI proposal management software writes RFP responses is the day this blog will have written itself. One day artificial intelligence will write your RFP, drive you home, and cook you dinner. But don’t get too excited—we’re probably 30 years away from that.

10. Will AI replace humans?

AI will replace humans….and it’s already replacing humans. Look at the checkout stands, how you order food, and how you get information. Fifteen years ago I used to call a travel agent to book my flights and now flights are recommended to me online before I even need them.

11. Will proposal management AI replace my job?

Proposal management AI won’t replace your job. Actually, AI enriches your job and empowers you to do more strategic, creative work. No one wants to come in and look at numbers or do the same thing over and over again. AI gives you the opportunity to accomplish things you couldn’t before. You’ll have more time to reflect and to provide more organizational value.

As the first AI proposal management software in the industry, Responsive has already automated and improved the response process for future-ready organizations. Start your digital transformation by scheduling a demo of Responsive.

See how it feels to respond with confidence

Why do 250,000+ users streamline their response process with RFPIO? Schedule a demo to find out.