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The Year of WE: Drive revenue through sales & marketing

The Year of WE: Drive revenue through sales & marketing

Turning chaos into confetti We’ve made it through the first month of the new year, and it’s time to seriously […]

Category: Tag: Sales enablement solution

The Year of WE: Drive revenue through sales & marketing

The Year of WE: Drive revenue through sales & marketing

Turning chaos into confetti

We’ve made it through the first month of the new year, and it’s time to seriously consider how we’ll be focusing our 2023 energy. Of course, a great way to look forward is first to reflect on where we’ve been.

And as I consider 2022, I realize that the last 360-something days seem to have been all about three redundant trends:

  • The global office exodus
  • The rather curious “new normal”
  • The dreaded, ever-looming burnout

I mean really—how many articles have you bumped into over the past year on Recovering from Burnout? Or How to Return to the Office? Or How to Navigate Working from Home while Avoiding a Return to Office Burnout?

From where I sit—in my cozy home office in California with my corgi, Lulu, curled up next to my feet—none of these trends was new news. In fact, as founder and CEO of Summit Strategy, I spent the last year gathering a team of experts who know how to work happily (and effectively) from home; who collaborate cross-functionally with ease (long before it was deemed new or normal); and who have long ago overcome the kind of burnout one experiences from being overworked and undervalued. And if we’re being honest, nothing in business (or in life) is ever static—all of us at Summit have had to recover, return, and navigate multiple times throughout our lives.

In fact, as I write this, I’m thinking about the fact that the most successful professionals probably experience about as many human iterations as an iPhone. We’re no strangers to challenges. But the silver lining of experiencing hardships and setbacks is gaining resilience, determination, and patience. And let’s not forget the sustainable power of humor almost every hour of every day these past few years! Despite all the drama, I’ve laughed more than I’ve cried. Heck, I’ve turned chaos into confetti.

And here’s how:

I’ve cracked the code to happiness AND running a successful business (Spoiler alert—RFPIO is part of that combination!).

Integrated marketing + proposals for sales and marketing efficiency

Here’s the deal: For many business-to-business and business-to-government (B2B/B2G) professional service enterprises, separating marketing and sales teams is a common practice, but it’s also an outdated method that hurts companies. Several years ago, it occurred to me that businesses can make the most of their marketing and sales efforts by bringing the two functions together—although most don’t, either because of perceived pitfalls or because of the fatal “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.

Summit Strategy was conceived primarily to help small businesses win work with government agencies and commercial businesses by combining marketing and sales strategies. Helping the small business community is our company’s “why,” and we bolster small businesses through an integrated approach of marketing acumen plus proposal proficiency. We also serve various clients who are leaders in state, local, municipal, and commercial markets and who seek to pivot and expand into the federal government. Leveraging our decades of experience in those federal markets, my team coaches; helps develop business strategies; determines agencies to target; fosters meaningful relationships with primes so clients can boost their past performances; and, eventually, facilitates our clients’ pursuit of contracts as a prime (whew!).

Summit’s approach brings coherence to the complex and otherwise fragmented methods that typically characterize marketing. We align and coordinate the delivery of a consistent, seamless, customer-centric experience across channels using curated content as the vehicle. And since content is the common currency in every market (no matter the industry), integrating marketing and RFX response increases operational efficiency and drives positive outcomes through collaboration.

In 2022 (our first full year of business), Summit helped more than 50 clients overcome developmental blocks, build competitive advantages, improve performance, and drive their business growth. How? Largely through maximizing employee and team resilience with tools like RFPIO!

So what’s the connection for revenue teams?

Remember when I said that nothing in business or in life is ever static? Well, if you’ve ever worked on response proposals or if you’re reading this blog through the lens of a marketer, you know your company’s content is one of the things that’s never static. Tending to content is like tending a garden, isn’t it? You go through the process of getting it to grow (composing), then you weed out the ineffective or outdated stuff (editing), then you send it out into the world and test its effectiveness (harvesting and consuming), and then the process starts mostly all over again. Content requires constant change, especially for sales teams and marketers.

RFPIO knows that for many companies, the intersection where marketing content meets the field organization is the request for proposal (RFP). Like Summit, the experts at RFPIO realized that great marketers use the RFP response process (proposals!) to ensure their sales teams are equipped with the latest and best marketing content—even technical writing—thereby reducing the need to call upon a subject matter expert every single time. In fact, one simple and extraordinarily effective way to curate, manage, and share content is through a collaborative proposal response process.

When content is stored within a centralized content library (think of it like your greenhouse!), you can compare and assess its effectiveness based on what really matters—things like business development data and capture/win rates. Strategic response management software with an intelligent, centralized content library, like RFPIO, allows you to collect and assess metrics in ways that enable marketing and sales teams to learn the effectiveness of various messages, helping shape future content and strategy.

We’ve found that a content depot becomes an increasingly valuable asset for our clients over time. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel every time our clients respond to an RFP or each time they launch a new marketing campaign, teams can visit their content library and draw from the most powerful content. The best part? They can also work collaboratively (and cross-functionally with teams outside their organization) no matter where they are in the world!

Ain’t no mountain high enough

Look, starting a company was never easy-peasy. Even on a good day, it’s powerfully humbling. But I’ve built a successful business with an enviable ethos—my team and I work hard to ensure people want to work with us and for us. In the world of B2B and B2G, there really ain’t no mountain high enough to keep us from creating winning proposals and marketing campaigns.

If the last year has taught us anything it’s that work environments will continue to shift and change, so a positive team spirit is essential for sustainable viability. Integrating marketing and proposals—and leveraging collaborative software like RFPIO—makes the work we do potent and fulfilling. Our clients are happy because we save them time and resources. And my team is happy because they get to work collaboratively (happily and with ease), across time zones, in ways that are meaningful and lasting. We know there’s always another summit to climb, and we’re up for the adventure.

Visit me on LinkedIn.



Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Why RFPs are a cornerstone in the enterprise sales cycle

Responders play a pivotal role in winning new business for enterprise organizations. You are a key team member who wears many hats. From content writer to marketing and sales, you add tremendous worth to your organization’s growth strategy.

Your leadership is particularly apparent in the enterprise sales cycle, where the process is long, complex, and high-stakes. A competitive RFP demonstrates to prospective enterprise clients that you understand their pain points and that you are the organization that adds the most value.

Read on to discover how you can pursue highly lucrative opportunities in the enterprise sales cycle with more efficiency and ease.

What is enterprise sales?

Enterprise sales refer to the acquisition of large contracts that involve a higher level of risk than more traditional sales seen in small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Enterprise sales cycles are long, involving multiple decision-makers that bring about large-scale corporate solutions. Contrast this with SMB sales cycles, that are short, lower risk, and fueled by marketing and sales. Enterprise sales offer solutions that are mission-critical to the success of the enterprise, directly impacting business operations at a strategic level.

In general, the enterprise sales model involves solutions that are highly complex, requiring the brains of various subject matter experts. These large-scale enterprise solutions often necessitate more training and customer support.

The role of RFPs in the enterprise sales cycle

Responding to RFPs plays a crucial role throughout the enterprise sales cycle. Unlike SMB sales that often focus on marketing to win the contract, enterprise sales must address various components, including onboarding, security, support, and automation.

Make no mistake, RFPs always require the input of many different SMEs. This intensive collaboration from subject matter experts is even more apparent and necessary in the case of enterprise sales.

Most RFPs are submitted in the final eight hours before the RFP is due. Of these, 35% are submitted in the final hour. Submitting close to the RFP deadline is fine if your team is taking your time to fine-tune your response content. It’s not fine when you’re figuring out content creation at the last-minute. Your organization could miss out on potentially valuable, highly-lucrative contracts just because you didn’t have time to produce high-quality content and go the extra mile.

Although the enterprise sales cycle is long and the acquisition costs are steep, the rewards are enormous. For these big-ticket proposals, it’s imperative that your enterprise has an efficient RFP response process in place. In doing so, your teams can provide the level of detail required for each proposal to close large-scale accounts.

Proposal software brings ease to the enterprise

Andrea Kameron is an RFP analyst at Reflexis Inc. who integrated RFPIO into her enterprise tech stack. Soon after bringing RFPIO to her organization, her response management team reduced the RFP completion time span by one week. Over the next few months, Reflexis doubled efficiency and submitted twice as many RFPs as before.

With proposal software, Andrea can organize questions into sections so they are presented to internal collaborators in a very clear and straightforward way.

How does this approach help streamline and automate the enterprise sales cycle? It encourages the RFP responder to use content already available in the library, rather than tag-teaming the Q&A content to already time-burdened SMEs across departments.

Here are a few other benefits of using proposal software like RFPIO to support the enterprise sales cycle.

Brand consistency

Brand consistency is one of the most common challenges for RFP responders. Because many different SMEs are involved throughout the enterprise sales cycle, each player has their own idea of what makes for the most attractive font types, headers, and bullet point styles. Proposal software resolves visual inconsistencies, thanks to systematic exporting capabilities.

Multi-dimensional response platform

Unlike traditional proposal software, RFPIO is a response management platform that supports many use cases beyond responding to RFPs. Use RFPIO to respond to any business queries: RFx (RFIs, RFQs, RFPs), statements of work (SOW), security questionnaires, proactive proposals, and sales proposals.

Centralized, collaborative, and compliant

A centralized Content Library allows your team to easily find and repurpose content. Because RFPIO has an unlimited user model, your enterprise team works in a collaborative environment to quickly produce standout content. To maintain compliance requirements, simply set up automated content audit reviews and invite your legal and compliance teams to leverage the platform.

By minimizing the content time investment during the enterprise sales cycle, you’re able to focus on crafting a captivating narrative that speaks to your prospect’s objectives and makes your enterprise solution stand out. Proposal software supports your sales efforts, so you can focus on landing the next big deal with greater efficiency and ease.

Ready to master the enterprise sales cycle? See how RFPIO benefits your enterprise team and supports your sales goals.

Get sales enablement right with RFP response optimization

Get sales enablement right with RFP response optimization

Getting sales enablement right in your organization is a bit of a puzzle. There are many definitions of sales enablement, variability in terms of who is responsible for it (sales vs. marketing), and how exactly to do it.

The purpose of this post is not to go through all that complexity—but to single out a piece that, if done correctly, can deliver real revenue results along with improved operational performance.

That piece is optimizing the Request for Proposal (RFP) response process.

RFPs are about how a customer buys

You will care more about RFPs, the larger the percentage of your opportunities include them. But even if infrequent, optimizing around the response process can deliver impressive results.

RFPs are more about how a customer buys than how a company sells. Most companies focus on how to sell and deploy staff and resources to support that effort, with seller defined deal stages, presentations, and skill sets to create and close opportunities.

High performance companies focus on how their customer buys and they align staff and resources around that process. If you have long sales cycles that take 6-12 meetings and require decision-making by committee, then design for that—not for blunt force lead generation and quick close tactics. That’s just not how your customer buys.

Make the most of every RFP opportunity

An RFP is about the purest definition of how a customer wants to buy from you. So make the most of it.

They have detailed their needs, timeline, and decision-making criteria. Your ability to influence this pre-defined process is around how successfully you follow the request and consistently respond to win.

How do you know if you are responding to win? Most companies don’t.

Often an RFP will be received and someone (sales operations, product management, etc.) will review, assign questions to various people, then work to coordinate all those pieces into a cohesive, polished response. Unfortunately, with that many variables, the process is more focused on completing sections rather than crafting a compelling response.

“RFPs are more about how a customer buys than how a company sells.” – Robert Pease

Optimize the RFP response process to win more

So, how do you optimize the RFP response process and respond to win? To put it simply, focus on how your customer buys and remove any friction in that process. Do everything you can to accelerate the purchase decision, while positioning yourself as the only answer.

Doing that can be distilled down to three focus areas of your RFP response process:

1. Content

The core of any RFP response is the content produced to address requirements, answer questions, and demonstrate how your product or service is uniquely qualified to address the need.

A critical piece here is to coordinate and confirm that the content used is the most recent and most relevant. This requires coordination among marketing, engineering, sales—and just about any other group that has a say in how a product or service is represented externally.

Rather than “recreate the wheel” each time, invest in a content repository that can be managed, updated, and accessed. This ensures the most recent and relevant content is always available. With RFP software, an Content Library works brilliantly for busy sales teams.

2. Consistency

An RFP response is designed to communicate why your product or service should be chosen by the customer. If your company depends on RFP response for even a small fraction of their revenue, consistency in approach—along with production and presentation—are essential.

Consistency will help you produce a quality response and gain the ability to compare wins and losses from the same baseline. If you use different people, copy, diagrams, or even response approach, you make it very difficult to compare the deals you win and lose on an equal basis.

Improving the RFP response process depends on a critical review of not only those deals that result in a win but also those that end in a loss.

3. Conversion

Often we are so focused on completing sections, meeting deadlines, and “shipping” the response that we lose sight of the main objective…to convert.

Is the goal to make a preliminary selection or a final selection? Is it a defined need with a defined timeline and allocated budget? Or is it more of a Request for Information (RFI)? An RFI is used much earlier in the information gathering phase of the sales process versus the actual buying phase.

Focus on the objective first and foremost. If an RFP has multiple response stages, then managing the process internally is even more critical.

Take a scorecard based approach and track conversion rates related to outcomes like: final consideration, invited to present, and actual purchase. Optimize around those responses that lead to conversions and critically evaluate those that don’t.

Knowing why you lost is more important than knowing why you won, so give yourself the highest probable successful outcome with each response.

Mastering the RFP response process is crucial to your sales enablement efforts. It’s also a defined need/process that can be optimized through both discipline and enabling technology.

Start with the process and know who is doing what. Then leverage enabling technology like RFP software to manage and create content, achieve consistency in response, and optimize around conversions.

Make the most of every RFP. It’s the most transparent way a customer will buy from you.

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.