Xactly completes 70% of RFP and RFI responses at intake, directly impacting bottom line

Key results

On average, I’m able to complete 70% of a response with my first pass, which I know reduces the burden on the reviewers.

– Juliana Strickland, Presales Project Management – Xactly

Xactly, a leading cloud-based sales performance management software company was looking to improve the efficiency of its response process and reduce the time requirements placed on their teams. Juliana Strickland, presales project manager at Xactly took on this challenge with the help of the Responsive Platform. With her role, she manages content and processes for:

  • 65-70 annual responses to requests for proposal (RFPs) and requests for information (RFIs)
  • More than 100 Responsive users
  • A Content Library of 1,800+ Q&A pairs and documents
  • Collaboration with subject matter experts (SMEs) across multiple departments for ongoing response content governance

She also drafts 70 percent of a response on her own within timeline constraints. “We’ve been using Responsive since I started and it’s been nice having access to the tools — it’s just so easy,” Juliana said.

Key Takeaways

  • 70% of response first drafts completed with Content Library and Auto Respond
  • 200-question RFP first drafts turned around in one day, on average; 450-question RFP first drafts turned around in 3-4 days
  • Submitting completed RFXs before the competition reduces revenue risk
  • 1 Responsive admin coordinates more than 100 users, annual content review assignments, SME collaboration, first draft development, and proposal formatting for 65-70 RFP and RFI responses per year

Xactly’s Response Challenge

Juliana’s predecessor brought in Responsive after realizing their old manual content tracking system in Excel and Word just wasn’t scalable. Even with an assistant, they were unable to keep up with the sales team’s demands.

Xactly responds predominately to Excel- or Word-formatted RFXs to move on in the sales cycle. Usually, the sales team receives an RFX immediately prior to or following a product demo. Submitting the response progresses the revenue opportunity. Not submitting the response, or submitting the response too late, effectively kills the revenue opportunity.

RFXs require expertise from multiple teams, including: product, InfoSec, legal and possibly the executive team in some situations. Before Responsive, there was greater deadline pressure because the response coordinator was working from a  spreadsheet to find existing answers and then chase down SMEs to answer the rest. This meant they were starting over with every new response. Lack of visibility made it even more difficult to work on more than one RFX simultaneously.

We knew we needed to add automation to our response process to scale. We needed more visbility and more time to be able to ensure we were providing responses that differentiated our solution and made us more competitive.

– Robert DeMarco, VP, Solutions Consulting – Xactly

Xactly implemented Responsive in 2020  to automate and centralize the response process on a single platform. They also wanted to make sure the sales team trusted that RFXs they submitted through Salesforce would be turned around quickly enough to meet customer deadlines.

The addition of Responsive proved timely for a reason other than staying on task with project management and collaboration. It helped Juliana hit the ground running when she took over RFX response content and processes. She needed a powerful tool that could help her build trust with the sales team, solutions consultants and SMEs.

Using Responsive at Xactly

When Xactly account executives (AEs) get an RFP or RFI, a team of sales leaders and solutions consultants determine whether it’s an opportunity worthy of pursuit. After the team gives the greenlight, Juliana receives a notification from Salesforce and runs with it from there.

She intakes the RFX into Responsive. Using a combination of Content Library search and Auto Respond, Juliana makes her “first pass” over the proposal. “On average, I’m able to complete 70% of a response with my first pass, which I know reduces the burden on the reviewers.”

From there, Juliana assigns all unanswered questions to SMEs in InfoSec, legal, product, sales and solutions consultants. The reviewers are able to work on their respective sections simultaneously within the platform to reduce response times. Juliana monitors their progress from her dashboard and sends out reminders if she senses someone is lagging. The platform has empowered and enabled her to build close relationships with SMEs across all departments in the organization, so she feels comfortable reaching out directly when she needs to.

After the proposal is complete, Juliana does another pass to clean up spelling and formatting and then returns it to the AE for final review, approval and submission.

Meanwhile, as Juliana ushers 65-70 proposals per year through the response process, she also maintains a hygienic Content Library. The 1,800-plus Q&A pairs and documents are reviewed annually. Juliana assigns and monitors reviews to multiple SMEs throughout a calendar year. “Editing and reviewing content within the platform is much easier than trying to do it separately,” she said. “The platform automatically saves it, and reviewers can just check a box if there’s nothing to change or go in and make quick updates.”

She accomplishes all this while also introducing new AEs to the platform. “When new AEs come on board, I just add them to the system and tell them to reach out if they have any questions. But, honestly, Responsive UI is so easy that they can usually get up and running on their own.”

Impact of Responsive at Xactly

Beyond enabling Juliana to deftly manage so many moving parts, reducing revenue risk is Responsive’s biggest impact at Xactly. The sales team recognizes Juliana’s contribution and the platform’s value. “The AEs tell me that the quicker I turn an RFP or RFI around, the better chance we have to beat our competitors at submitting a response.”

Instead of AEs submitting a response request through Salesforce and being uncertain when it will be processed, Juliana immediately sets the expectation of when it will be complete. “Sometimes we’re asked for 48-hour turnarounds, and we do it even faster. Sales directors have been super impressed. I also get feedback from VPs that I run the RFP process so smoothly.”

Juliana has done an amazing job of building trust with the sales team and managing our response management program. She makes it look easy, and I know Responsive helps her do that.

– Robert DeMarco, VP, Solutions Consulting – Xactly

One reason why Juliana is able to “smoothly” manage response processes is her clean Content Library. “Responsive just makes it so easy. Features like usage count…if you have a choice between an answer that’s been used 150 times and one that’s never been used, then you know the answer used most often is the best one.”

She’s also a stickler for process and ranks that as her number one recommendation to anyone considering a strategic response management platform. “Have a streamlined process, one that you can depend on and that the rest of the people you work with can depend on, too,” she said. “It’s important that they’re aware of the structure and pace, especially the content reviewers.”

Ultimately, Juliana knows that her role and the Responsive Platform are essential to a more successful sales process. “It really helps speed up the turnaround time for AEs, and it helps people collaborate within the tool. And with it being so easy, I don’t have to help with onboarding new people and introducing them to the system because it’s pretty intuitive.”

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