Jonathan Read is a sales engineer at Progress, a company that enables customers to deliver modern, high-impact digital experiences. A self-described “do-er” and “hater of inefficiency”, he does everything possible to streamline complicated processes.
At Progress, sales engineers like Jonathan are responsible for responding to RFPs. Before automating their response process, a sales engineer would complete an RFP by answering each question one-by-one. Without a technological solution to support their process, Jonathan estimated a single RFP might take up to six hours to complete.
He knew there had to be a better way to respond to RFPs—and he was determined to find it. And so was Gary Clink, the Head of Global Technical Enablement.
Gary and Jonathan teamed up to implement a solution that would enable their sales engineers to quickly create sales proposals and make company knowledge easily accessible to everyone across the global organization.
They decided that Responsive (formerly RFPIO) was exactly what they needed to push their response process to the next level. With Responsive, the team saw three key improvements to their response process.
Breaking down knowledge silos with a content management system
Under Progress’s previous response model, the most up-to-date product information was siloed in the brains and hard drives of certain individuals. The absence of a referenceable content library meant that anyone who needed to find a certain tidbit of information would have to reach out to those individuals directly.
That’s why the biggest thing that stood out about Responsive was the consolidated Content Library. Because it streamlined the RFP process by storing previous RFP answers in one place, Progress chose to open it up the vast, searchable knowledge base to both employees and external partners.
This significantly accelerated the employee and partner onboarding process, because employees and partners could simply search for the answer they were looking for in the Content Library—rather than tracking down the right sales engineer who could answer their question.
As security risks escalate, and as proving compliance has become necessary for both acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. Progress began leveraging Responsive for answering DDQs (due diligence questionnaires).
Gary noted that, “Although we adopted RFPIO (now Responsive) initially to help co-ordinate and respond to complete RFI and RFPs across the breadth of our company portfolio (which it continues to do brilliantly!), we found that, particularly in light of complex trojan hacks within our competitors’ solutions, that more and more companies want to confirm corporate security compliance.”
Responsive enabled Progress to answer the questionnaires as well as develop and maintain their customer base.
“Responsive not only simplified the whole process of answering hundreds of complex questionnaires for us, allowing us to build a comprehensive library of standard answers to regulatory questions – speeding up response times and ensuring consistency, but also became a key differentiator during renewal cycles and negotiations – critical to customer retention and attraction.”
Collaborating across a global team using advanced collaboration tools
Jonathan knew from experience that when an RFP contained questions that required input from more than one team, it was challenging to know who was best-equipped to respond—especially considering Progress’s team is scattered in countries all over the world.
With Responsive’s advanced collaboration tools, legal teams, financial teams, and other subject matter experts can easily contribute to RFPs. All responders like Jonathan have to do is @-mention the person or team they need help from directly on the question itself—allowing teams to collaborate within the tool and not in lengthy email chains.
Enhanced collaboration and access to a single source of truth are already improving Progress’s response process. Shortly after implementing Responsive, a sales engineer in Australia—who had only recently started at the company—was able to collaborate with sales engineers in Bulgaria and product managers in the United States to complete an RFP in just a few days.
Building a multilingual knowledge base
As a global organization, Progress receives and responds to RFPs in multiple languages. For example, if a German-speaking prospect engages with a German-speaking sales team and issues an RFP in their language, the prospect would be unpleasantly surprised if all the answers came back in English.
With Responsive, Progress can layer a single answer in multiple different languages, enabling their global team to store sales content in their own language (and the language of their prospects), so they can easily respond to sales queries and other RFPs.
Additionally, as a company with a multi-product portfolio, Progress wanted a response management solution that could create separate content collections for each of their different product types.
This feature became unexpectedly useful in the midst of a global crisis when Progress began receiving many questionnaires requesting assurance that Progress could continue to fulfill their SLAs. To navigate this crisis, Progress’s legal team worked to populate a new collection with standard (legal-approved) answers specific to the crisis so the rest of the team could quickly and consistently respond to these inquiries.
A faster way to respond
Jonathan has wanted to fix the RFP process for about a decade and Responsive was exactly the efficiency solution he was imagining.
A few weeks ago, a partner representative approached him with an RFP they were very behind on and needed to submit the next day. In the past, Jonathan says this would have been an all-night session for him. With Responsive, he and one other marginally technical person were able to respond to all 70 questions in less than two hours.
When asked how he felt about his Responsive experience so far, Jonathan enthusiastically remarked, “Responsive has changed my work lifestyle in the things we can do and repeat. And it’s so great that the Responsive team is so flexible with the product and finding new things we can do with it—we can’t wait to keep going with this thing and push it to new limits.”
“With Responsive, one other marginally technical person and I were able to respond to all 70 questions of an RFP in less than two hours. Before, this would have been an all-night session for me.”
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