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Proposal Manager Career Guide

Proposal Manager Career Guide

Being a proposal manager is unlike any other role. Indeed, if you think about it, the position is an exercise […]

Category: Tag: Proposal management automation

Proposal Manager Career Guide

Proposal Manager Career Guide

Being a proposal manager is unlike any other role. Indeed, if you think about it, the position is an exercise in opposites. For instance, proposal managers work with almost every department, giving them a big-picture perspective. However, when they respond to RFPs, they must pay attention to every little detail. In addition, the role is often exciting and fast-paced when creating a win strategy and composing a proposal. On the other hand, proposal managers frequently answer the same routine questions over and over again.

Consequently, the proposal manager role requires a unique set of skills. However, for those who can balance the responsibilities of the role, becoming a proposal manager is a rewarding job. It is a great career starting point for some, while others make it a satisfying life-long career. Regardless, proposal managers play a key role in their organization’s success.

In this blog, we’ll define what a proposal manager is, including their job description, responsibilities and key skills. Then, we’ll discuss proposal professional titles and their earning potential. Finally, we’ll offer advice for anyone looking to become a proposal manager as well as useful tools and resources for ongoing career development.

What is a proposal manager?

Proposal manager definition

A proposal manager is responsible for responding to requests for proposals (RFPs). They manage the proposal process including task delegation, response editing and submission.

In some businesses, the proposal manager may go by other titles including proposal coordinator, RFP analyst, bid manager and RFP manager. Depending on the size of the business, there may be only one proposal manager or many.

What does a proposal manager do?

The proposal manager is the main point of contact for incoming RFPs. They work with a proposal team composed of contributors from multiple departments. Most proposals will include team members in sales, marketing, business development, finance, legal, IT, and subject matter experts (SMEs) from various areas of the business.

Admittedly, there are a lot of duties and responsibilities that go into their work. But, put simply, the proposal manager is responsible for creating proposals that win new business.

Who does the proposal manager report to?

Generally, a proposal manager in a small- or medium-sized business reports to the director of sales, marketing or business development. However, in large or enterprise organizations, the proposal team likely reports to an executive in finance or revenue management.

Proposal manager job description

The proposal manager job description varies from one business to another. The duties change based on the size of the business, number of proposal team members and industry. However, they always contain a variety of responsibilities that contribute to the overall goal of winning new RFP opportunities.

As a proposal manager works to create compelling RFP responses, they may face some common challenges. Luckily, their unique skill set enables them to solve these challenges, improve efficiency and ensure success. Let’s explore each of these topics in more detail.

Primary proposal manager responsibilities

  • Facilitate discussions to bid or not to bid
  • Collaborate with the capture management team
  • Identify client priorities and win themes
  • Create and execute a proposal project plan
  • Conduct market and competitive research
  • Hold kick-off and debrief meetings
  • Act as point of contact for prospects
  • Gather and send follow-up and clarifying questions to the buyer
  • Manage the proposal team (anyone contributing to RFPs)
  • Ensure proposals and presentations are brand compliant
  • Report proposal progress to executive management
  • Submit final proposal for consideration
  • Maintain the RFP response knowledge base
  • Prioritize RFPs based on the likelihood of winning and value
  • Track RFP data and win rate
  • Be the administrator for the company’s RFP software

Common RFP response challenges

  • Tight deadlines and a lack of urgency from others involved in the process
  • Translating sales feedback and the capture management plan into actionable insights
  • Confusion during the proposal process
  • Disorganized or difficult-to-find proposal content
  • Slow responses from subject matter experts who juggle other responsibilities
  • Long hours as deadlines for important RFPs approach

Proposal manager skills

Anyone thinking about becoming a proposal manager should consider the necessary skill set. In addition to general business knowledge, proposal managers must master three key practices: knowledge management, proposal project management and data analytics. Furthermore, the ability to facilitate collaboration, encourage creative problem solving and navigate conflict are also valuable skills.

Additional proposal manager hard skills

  • Data tracking and analysis
  • Writing, editing and reviewing
  • Managing proposal software
  • Optimizing and managing processes
  • Researching and presenting

Helpful soft skills for proposal managers

  • Team leadership
  • Strong communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Organization
  • Prioritization of projects
  • Flexibility and adaptability

Proposal manager job description examples

Proposal and RFP manager job descriptions vary, depending on company size, organizational setup and industry. For example, if a job is in a small company in an industry that sells industrial bolts, RFPs might not be overly-complex and the proposal manager might be part of a sales team.

Software companies likely have a more complex response process, in which they have to prove security and regulatory compliance as well as document product differentiation, onboarding processes and so on. Many software companies, especially enterprise organizations, have dedicated response teams if not departments.

We’ve put together a couple of examples:

An IT firm in the Washington, D.C. area is looking for a proposal manager. Job responsibilities include:

  • Collaborating with business development and capture managers to determine whether to respond and the best approach
  • Developing compliance matrices and proposal section outlines
  • Analyzing RFPs
  • Finding relevant content
  • Managing the proposal process
  • Compiling data and report to management
  • Enforcing editorial guidelines
  • Reviewing proposals to ensure corporate and legal compliance
  • Manage the proposal database

An educational technology firm is looking for a government proposal manager. Job responsibilities include:

  • Analyzing RFPs
  • Gathering information
  • Developing proposals by assembling information, which may include, the project narrative, objectives, outcomes, deliverables and more
  • Building proposals on company proposal software
  • Analyzing losses
  • Managing company repository

Proposal roles and salaries

Hiring a proposal professional is certainly an investment for any business. However, the value that a dedicated proposal manager delivers is clear. Indeed, they bring order to the RFP response process, ensure better proposals and enable the business to answer even more RFPs.

When it comes to proposal management, salaries vary widely based on the industry, company size, location and level of experience and education. It’s also worth noting that many recruiters say that a culture fit, trainability and talent is just as important as experience. In addition, for those just starting out, there’s a clear path from entry-level positions to advanced titles and potentially executive roles.

Please note that salary ranges vary, depending on where the job is located, the industry and so on.

Entry-level proposal positions

Many proposal managers didn’t start out in the field. Often, proposal managers are internal hires plucked from savvy candidates in sales, marketing, or administration roles. These professionals may jump straight into their role as proposal managers, or they may begin in an entry-level role.

Proposal coordinator

As the title implies, the proposal coordinator is responsible for facilitating the proposal process. For instance, they work together with sales, product development, marketing and other departments to create a proposal that addresses the prospect’s concerns. Often, they are in charge of following up with internal contributors, finding previous answers and editing the proposal.

Proposal coordinator salary: $48,000 – $71,000

Proposal specialist

A proposal specialist is responsible for conducting research, articulating key differentiators and writing responses that address the customer’s needs. In addition, they request help from SMEs, customize answers to focus on the customer’s needs and ensure consistency and compliance throughout the proposal.

Proposal specialist salary: $50,000 – $76,000

Proposal writer

As you might suspect, the proposal writer is primarily responsible for a proposal’s content. They are experts at turning general ideas and concepts into well-constructed, polished answers. Indeed, they verify that each answer is complete and relates back to the stated needs and goals. The proposal writer is  particularly good at helping the buyer picture themselves as a customer and highlighting differentiators throughout the proposal. Finally, they ensure that the proposal tells an engaging story from beginning to end.

Proposal writer salary: $60,000 – $97,000

Advanced proposal titles

With a few years of experience and growth, entry-level positions may advance to a role with more responsibility.

Proposal manager

In addition to managing the RFP response process, the proposal manager also executes the organization’s RFP strategy. They also collaborate with various contributing departments, explore process optimization and proactively manage the organization’s knowledge library. Often, the proposal manager captures feedback on both won and lost opportunities and provides recommendations to the business.

Proposal manager salary: $83,000 – $135,000

Senior proposal manager

In organizations with multiple proposal managers, a senior proposal manager is responsible for leading special projects, taking on high-stakes RFPs and administering RFP technology. Additionally, they focus on high-level management of proposal projects. In this role, they typically direct a team including a proposal coordinator, proposal writer and graphic designer.

Senior proposal manager salary: $108,000 – $182,000

Executive leadership positions

Proposal director and vice president of proposal operations

While they are somewhat rare, there are executive proposal positions in large organizations. For example, you’ll find titles like proposal director and vice president of proposal operations. These roles lead multiple proposal teams divided by products or regions and provide insight that may influence business strategy. Typically, executive proposal professionals report directly to a chief revenue officer or chief financial officer.

Proposal executive salary: $159,000 – $280,000

Where to find proposal manager jobs

Whether you’ve just started your proposal career, or you’ve been in the industry for years, there are always new things to learn. Fortunately, the proposal industry is full of helpful peers willing to share their advice and experience. In addition, there are countless resources for ongoing career development. So, remember to make time to hone your skills and connect with others.

1. LinkedIn

Odds are, you already have a LinkedIn profile. The odds are almost as good that you don’t pay much attention to it. For most, LinkedIn isn’t a typical social media site, but it is a great place to showcase your resume, highlight your special skills (like an RFPIO certification), search job listings, and connect with people in your industry.

2. APMP local chapters

The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) is a worldwide organization for people who issue or respond to RFPs, RFQs, DDQs, security questionnaires and everything else that’s proposal-related. To be fair, though, most APMP members are on the response side.

APMP has 29 worldwide chapters with most on the eastern side of the United States. Both the international organization and its local and regional chapters host events designed for networking and learning about new technologies and best practices. APMP also has an active job board for proposal professionals.

3. Indeed

Indeed’s website says it’s the #1 job site in the world. We can neither confirm nor deny that claim, but the site has a massive list of job postings, company reviews and salary estimates.

A search for “proposal manager,” not filtered by location, shows more than 50,000 jobs. And, a search for “RFP” produces about 16,000 listings.

Advice, tools and resources for career development

4 tips for new proposal managers

1. Build a rapport with subject matter experts

SMEs play a major role in answering RFPs. Consequently, they are one of your most valuable resources. Accordingly, it’s important to build a connection with them and maintain a good working relationship.

To work effectively with SMEs, you must determine the best approach. Because SMEs juggle their own full-time role as well as helping with RFP responses, communicating solely through email is often inefficient.

Ways to collaborate with subject matter experts:

  • Conduct SME interviews and transcribe their answers into the proposal
  • Have the SMEs write answers and submit them to you for editing
  • Write answers yourself and send them all to the SME for review
  • Collaborate in real-time using proposal management software

2. Create customized templates

An efficient proposal manager must think strategically, which often includes taking intelligent shortcuts. Tools such as customized templates help eliminate many of the low-value tasks that hobble proposal managers who find themselves reinventing the wheel for every response.

To get started developing time-saving templates of your own, download our RFP toolkit.

3. Focus on the customer

As the proposal manager, part of your job is to be the customer’s advocate throughout the RFP response. As you review answers and build the proposal, ask yourself, ‘Does this information help the client? Is it relevant, necessary and timely?’

How to write customer-focused proposals:

  • Share your understanding of their needs in the executive summary and RFP cover letter
  • Ensure responses center around and address customer benefits and goals
  • Provide references, case studies and data that illustrate the results the prospective customer can expect

4. Invest time in your proposal content library

Finally, perhaps the most important thing a proposal manager can do to ensure success is to build and maintain a proposal content library. Far too many businesses waste time reinventing the wheel when they respond to an RFP. As a result, the process is slow and frustrating for everyone involved.

Proposal content library best practices:

    • Use the library to answer as many questions as possible before sending the proposal to SMEs
    • Store your knowledge library in a searchable system and organize your content using tags and hierarchies
    • Conduct regular reviews to update answers, remove duplicates and ensure content accuracy

Tools and resources for career development

There’s no doubt that proposal managers have a lot of responsibilities to juggle as they manage complex projects. Luckily, there are a lot of excellent RFP response tools and resources that can make the job far easier. Here are three resource suggestions for proposal professionals at any stage in their career.

Proposal software

As technology advances throughout many businesses, proposal management software experience is in high demand. Indeed, it is now common to see job descriptions that express a preference for candidates with the skills to manage these RFP software platforms.

Our pick: RFPIO

It should come as no surprise that our pick for the best proposal software is RFPIO. But we aren’t the only one who feel that way. RFPIO is the industry-leading strategic response management platform. RFPIO applies a holistic approach to solving common RFX challenges through best-in-class innovation, collaboration and automation. It leads the pack in integrations and its user-based model ensures scalability on a dime.

The biggest RFPIO benefits:

Professional association

Staying up to date on industry events and advancements is an important part of any successful proposal career. Consequently, membership in a professional association delivers benefits that are worth exploring.

Our pick: Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP)

The Association of Proposal Management Professionals is the leading professional association in the bid and proposal industry. The organization has a global reach as well as individual, regional chapters. Accordingly, they host frequent in-person and remote webinars, events and meetings. In addition, APMP offers countless resources for expanding your knowledge and exploring best practices.

Resources for APMP members:

Peer networking and new opportunities

When you have a question, are facing a process roadblock or looking for a new opportunity, peers in the industry can offer help. Generally speaking, the bid and proposal industry is friendly and welcoming to all ⁠— there’s always someone who is willing to help out.

Our pick: APMP Official Discussion Group

You don’t have to be an active APMP member to benefit from their wealth of expertise. With more than 21,000 members, the APMP Official Discussion Group on LinkedIn is a great place to crowdsource information, connect with other passionate professionals and keep an eye on trends and opportunities.

  • Problem-solve challenges by brainstorming with peers
  • Explore new proposal technology, processes and data analysis
  • Learn about new job opportunities

Networking for RFPIO users

Efficient RFX response is all about finding the process that works best for your organization. When organizations choose to automate their processes, more choose RFPIO than any other software. Perhaps you have questions that are RFPIO-specific, you want to network with other RFPIO users, or you’re hoping to find other opportunities where your RFPIO expertise will shine.

Our pick: RFPIO online user community

The RFPIO online community is a great place to share ideas and ask proposal- and RFPIO-related questions. The community is more intimate than the APMP LinkedIn group, so it’s also a fantastic opportunity to develop camaraderie and make friends.

  • Share information about proposal management trends
  • Learn about RFPIO updates and new technologies
  • Network with fellow RFPIO proposal professionals

Once you’ve landed your dream proposal manager job, RFPIO is here to help you prove your efficiency and productivity, and drive revenue for your organization. Schedule a demo to see how we can add value to your role.

Proposal management resource guide

Proposal management resource guide

What do nearly all large sales have in common? OK, if you read this blog’s headline, it’s hardly a trick question.

Whether a sale began through outbound sales or marketing efforts, inbound customer queries, or requests for proposals (RFPs), nearly all customers require written proposals before making a large purchase.

Proposal management 101

Proposal management is the process of completing a sales proposal or RFP response accurately, completely, engagingly, and on time. The process typically involves multiple parties, including subject matter experts (SMEs), writers, editors, and of course, a project (or proposal) manager.

What does a proposal manager do?

If you ask a proposal manager what they do, there’s a good chance they’ll respond with something like, “What don’t I do?”

They wouldn’t be wrong. A proposal manager is part salesperson, part writer, part editor, and mostly the ringleader of a many-ringed circus. They are in charge of crafting winning proposals and creating and maintaining processes for today’s proposals, tomorrow’s, and next year’s.

Create new RFP response processes

At RFPIO, we gathered our current and past proposal managers to design a response process that’s logical, agile, and repeatable. The 8-step process builds on past wins and losses, perfection and errors, to help set you up for an increased win rate and higher profits.

  • Go/no-go – Not all requests for proposals (RFPs) are worthwhile. Can you meet the customer’s needs? Do their needs align with your company’s goals and objectives? Is the deal winnable?
  • Hold a kickoff meeting – Gather your response team to assign roles, responsibilities, and deadlines.
  • Pen the first draft – Most of an RFP’s questions are relatively standard. You can respond to as many as 80 percent of the queries with answers you’ve used before. Note that doing as much of the work as possible, without calling on SMEs’ valuable time, will go a long way toward fostering goodwill.
  • Pen the second draft – The second draft is where real collaboration comes in. Call upon your SMEs to help answer the last 20 percent or so of your document’s questions.
  • Review and revise – Check and recheck your proposal for accuracy, response quality, and spelling and grammatical errors. Make sure you’ve attached all relevant documents.
  • Submit your response – Submit your complete and polished reply on time, if not early.
  • Save and audit your response – Continue the goodwill you’ve established with your SMEs by saving their answers for future use.
  • Conduct a postmortem – Win or lose, gather your team to discuss what went well and what didn’t. Apply your newfound wisdom to future responses.

Improve old RFP processes

Congratulations on establishing a response process. You’d be surprised at how many companies play it by ear. Still, even the best RFP response needs some tweaking now and again.

  • Only go after what’s winnable – Even the best-defined go/no-go process is subject to human excitement. It might be tempting to go after that big sale, but if it’s a bad fit, the wasted work can deplete morale, and having to read through a response that doesn’t fit might cause resentment on the part of the customer.
  • Focus on content – Do you have a content library to store previous answers? Do you regularly audit your content library for use and accuracy?
  • Define roles and responsibilities – While you can’t predict which SMEs you might need to consult for your next RFP, you can establish your core response team. Then, when it’s time to call your team to action, you can involve the SMEs and further hone roles and responsibilities.
  • Get to know your key stakeholders – People’s work styles vary. Respect stakeholders’ preferred communication (RFPIO integrates with the most popular communication applications) and work styles.
  • Repeat – Make sure all your improvements are repeatable. For example, if you assign a designated editor to one response, assign one to all.

Manage projects seamlessly

A response manager is, first and foremost, a project manager. It’s their job to decide whether to pursue the sale and who should be part of the response, ensure everyone has their marching orders and meets their deliverables, and record each question-and-answer pair for future use.

Project management software, especially that which is specifically designed for proposals, will help the proposal manager through each step of the project.

Set the response team up for success

One of the biggest challenges facing a proposal manager is coordinating groups of individuals who might work remotely, from different offices, and even in different time zones. Here’s how some of our customers bring out the best in their distributed response teams.

  • Focus on productivity – Some people thrive on 9-5 while others work best from 7-3 or even some time in the middle of the night. Naturally, team meetings should involve everyone, and deadlines might not comply with personal work styles, but when you let people work when they’re most productive, they’ll be…well…more productive.
  • Ask for help – Managing distributed workforces is nearly impossible without assistance from project management software. Strategic response management software such as RFPIO integrates with all of the most popular communication and productivity applications, enables project managers to set up tasks and checklists, and optionally enables access from anywhere there’s an internet connection.
  • Build connections – Teams are built from diverse personalities and work styles. Step away from work mode once a week or so and hold team-building meetings with fun themes to help bring out people’s personalities and create bonds.

How to manage winning proposals

While proposal managers are pulled in multiple directions, the primary goal is always to create winning proposals. Here’s how our proposal managers do it.

Optimize the proposal management plan

Many, if not most, proposal managers don’t have the luxury of designated proposal teams. In fact, their roles and responsibilities might vary. Many are part of a sales team, and a salesperson is often expected to oversee an RFP’s completion.

Still, small companies without designated response teams or response managers can compete with enterprise companies by following a well-designed process.

  • Learn to say “no” – Small and medium-sized businesses (and even enterprise organizations) need to conserve resources, which means saying “no” to RFPs that are either unwinnable or unfulfillable.
  • Call for help – Most proposals require input from multiple parties. In other words, it’s more than OK to admit you can’t do everything alone. Call on your sales team and other SMEs to help you complete your proposal. Sales teams may not like responding to RFPs, but they should remember that they have tremendous revenue potential.

Define team roles and responsibilities

A response process should begin well before you receive your first request. You should have a regular team with backups in case someone is unavailable. Additionally, you should know your SMEs, their expertise, and, hopefully, their schedules.

Once you receive an RFP, hold a kickoff meeting to clearly define every stakeholder’s role and responsibilities.

Establish the building blocks of your proposals

Response managers aren’t rewarded for originality. Their job is to win bids, and the most efficient way to do that is to reuse and recycle past content, or at least some of it.

Establish proposal building blocks by utilizing and customizing resources such as white papers, internal training, boilerplate libraries, and so on. You can also pull content from previous proposals.

Your recycled content is not generic and boilerplate, such as with a press release. Edit or add to it to suit your customer and the specific project.

Once you’ve identified building blocks, store them in a shared folder, collaboration tool, local drive, or response management software.

Organize knowledge systems

Not long ago, companies stored their documents and much of their knowledge in metal boxes called file cabinets. Okay, yes, we all still know what file cabinets are, but we also know that they are highly inefficient for distributed and siloed workforces.

A well-organized knowledge system enhances collaboration, breaks down silos, and boosts productivity. It also makes RFP response much faster and more efficient.

Record your question-and-answer pairs after you submit each response, and regularly audit your content to ensure it’s valuable, current, and accurate.

Format your deliverable correctly

Your prospect won’t read your proposal.

The last thing you want to hear, especially after spending hours, days, or even weeks crafting a beautifully written proposal, is that the customer won’t even read it.

That doesn’t mean you’ve wasted your time—far from it. A well-formatted proposal makes it easy for customers to find what they need quickly. Here are some tips:

  • Use the right font – Serif is the easiest to read.
  • Justify left – Justify on the left and use ragged formatting on the right.
  • Use portrait orientation – People are used to reading documents in portrait orientation.
  • Double space – Double spaces between sentences are easier to skim.
  • Limit paragraph and sentence length – More than 3-5 sentences per paragraph is overwhelming, as is more than 20 words per sentence.
  • Use graphics and images – Pictures break up dense text and make it much easier to follow.
  • Avoid reds, greens, and grays – Many people are color blind and can’t distinguish between reds and greens. Grays and other low-contrast colors are difficult to read.
  • Use headings – Headings and subheadings let readers know where to find the necessary information.
  • Define acronyms – You can use acronyms, but you should first define them. Request for proposal (RFP) is one example.
  • Avoid internal references – Don’t make your reader search with statements like “See question #18.” At the very least, summarize the answer and direct the reader to one that’s more detailed.
  • Include a table of contents – Many proposals are 100s of pages long. Prevent frustration by directing customers to what they are looking for.
  • Follow the 3:1 rule – Avoid the hard sell by referring to the prospective customer’s company about three times for every time you mention your company. This is especially important in executive summaries.
  • Proofread – Run your copy through a grammar checker to ensure correct punctuation and grammar.
  • Use a one-third/two-thirds layout – Use one-third of the page as a sidebar for relevant information, such as key metrics.
  • Standardize your formatting – Your stakeholders might have their own ways of working, which is fine, but be sure to bring their content into your standard formatting to create a cohesive style instead of a jarring “patchwork quilt” effect.
  • Use your customer’s logo (maybe) – If you have permission and a non pixelated, high-resolution logo that meets their branding guidelines, attach it to your proposal.
  • Include white space – Space your content so the pages aren’t too dense.

Deliver an organized RFP response

Your proposal should be skimmable, but it should also invite the reader to evaluate whether you can fulfill their needs. Write your proposal to draw the reader in and keep them with you.

  • Reassure the reader – As my grandmother often said, the devil is in the details. But if you want the reader to get to the details, you’ll have to reassure them that you know what they’re asking. Summarize the customer’s requirements very early in the document.
  • Detail each step – Lay the proposal out so the customer can follow the buyer and customer journey. Tell a story and avoid jargon.
  • Build your content library – Each proposal is an opportunity to add to your content library. In turn, your content library should hold a wealth of reusable information and documentation for future responses.
  • Use proposal management software – Your proposal management tools should help you manage the project, find relevant content, and standardize the proposal’s format.

How to improve the proposal management process

Now that you know what an excellent proposal management process looks like, the next step is implementation. Advanced RFP response software is designed to enhance, refine, and simplify your process, freeing you to produce more bids using fewer resources.

Upgrade your content management

RFP software helps you organize your ever-evolving content management system by letting you manage content by tagging it and assigning it to projects. With RFPIO, you can assign star ratings so your best content can rise to the top.

You should also regularly audit your content for relevance, use, and accuracy.

Leverage RFP management dashboards

Track your project’s progress with an RFP response management dashboard that provides insights at a glance.

Scale your response management process

Some weeks you have one project on your plate, and others, three or more. RFPIO lets you scale to your needs by allowing unlimited user access with each project.

Integrate AI into your proposal management solution

Think of artificial intelligence (AI) as a team member that never tires and always has a great attitude. Leverage it to help you answer up to 80 percent of an RFP. It can also analyze the RFP to help you with the go/no-go process, analyze win-loss opportunities, and help perfect your formatting.

Using proposal management software

RFPs are becoming much more common than they were in the past, and mere humans have a tough time keeping up. Proposal management tools help organizations respond to more bids in less time.

The advantages of bid proposal tools

The best bid proposal tools are designed by proposal managers to help manage each of the eight steps in the response process. Streamline your process with the following:

  • Project management – Track each team member and workflow through project management.
  • Content management – A great content management system is more than a repository. It should leverage AI to point you to the most appropriate content and help keep the content library current.
  • Collaboration – It’s almost impossible to go it alone when creating a proposal, and there’s a good chance you don’t share office space with some of your teammates. Today’s bid proposal software should include powerful collaboration tools.
  • Integrations – Most organizations use customer relationship management software, communication software, project management software, and others. Advanced bid proposal tools integrate with most of the tools you already use.
  • Business intelligence and analytics – Use insights to help determine what you can do differently in the future.

Selecting proposal management software

We consider a few features essential when looking for software to help with proposal management.

  • Import/export capabilities – You might receive an RFP in a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or even a PDF. Look for software that lets you import the document into a standardized platform that your team knows and then exports it into the customer’s preferred format.
  • Content management – Look for an intuitive single source of truth for all of your company knowledge and documents.
  • Integrations – Your proposal management platform should enhance your existing tech stack, not weigh it down. Look for software that integrates with the tools you already use.
  • AI assistance – Intelligent software points you to the best content, does much of the work for you, assigns questions to SMEs, and analyzes past responses and future opportunities.

Streamlined proposal management with RFPIO

RFPIO is mission-critical software for companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Zoom, Visa, and many, many more. Its advanced proposal management features include:

  • Import/export capabilities – Import each document from your customer’s preferred format onto your desired working template. From there, export the finished document back to the customer’s format before submitting the proposal.
  • Content management – RFPIO offers the industry’s most advanced AI-based content management system. It will answer as much as 80 percent of your document and help you keep your library free from ROT (redundant, outdated, and trivial content).
  • Integrations – RFPIO seamlessly integrates with more than two dozen of the most popular business applications.
  • AI assistance – RFPIO’s continually-learning AI tool helps you maintain and utilize your content library and generate analytics to help you win more bids and demonstrate value to executives.

Case study

TeamDynamix, a cloud-based IT Service Management and Project Portfolio Management platform, has seen a 300 percent increase in RFP volume over the last three years. When shopping for software to address the rise in volume, they looked for scalability and efficiency.

With RFPIO, TeamDynamix met the 3x increase and reduced turnaround time by about 40 percent, allowing them time to perfect each response and maintain consistency.

Hop on a free demo to see how RFPIO can help you win more bids and boost revenue with fewer resources.


Building a proposal management program

Building a proposal management program

After months of voicemails, postponed meetings, and careful nurturing, a customer wants to see a formal proposal. Or, maybe a customer approached you with a request for a proposal (RFP). Either way, you’re in a good position, as long as you have a proposal management program in place.

While proposals entail a lot of work, they are also an opportunity to meet your customer halfway. A well-crafted RFP clearly outlines a customer’s requirements, and a well-crafted response lets them know that you understand their needs and the specific ways your company will address them.

Quality written proposals represent your brand and its approved messaging—your marketing team thanks you. They are unambiguous—we can almost hear your legal department cheering. They clearly outline each deliverable—are those your fulfillment, onboarding, and churn prevention teams we hear joining in? And there’s no disputing the pricing—did the billing department just order cake? And, most importantly, they drive revenue—everyone is coming to the party!

Well-written and thorough proposals protect your company’s interests, and each one you submit has the potential to bring you closer to your quarterly or yearly goals and add to your company’s bottom line.

A proposal management program that leverages advanced RFP response software lets you generate more, higher-quality proposals using fewer resources while also helping level the playing field and achieve sales goals. Still, companies can be reluctant to invest in high-ROI proposal management software.

The future of proposal management is automated

Every once in a while, a proposal manager approaches us, wondering what will happen to them if their company turns to  automation for their proposal management program.

Naturally, we reassure them that even the most advanced proposal management automation software requires human expertise.

We also acknowledge that proposal managers work long, hard hours and that there’s an excellent chance that their companies already partially automate sales, marketing, finance, and customer service processes. Yet, those are still some of the fastest-growing roles within organizations.

Rather than competition, proposal management software is like a long-deserved assistant designed to make proposal managers more productive and valuable.

Qualities of an effective proposal management system

While proposal management shares many similarities with sales or project management, some challenges require a specialized approach.

Inconsistent formatting

RFPs may arrive as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, or PDFs, with layouts that are difficult to maneuver. A proposal management system should be able to import from any of the most commonly used formats, convert the requests into formats your stakeholders can easily navigate, and export the documents in the customers’ preferred formats.

Inconsistent wording

Up to 80 percent of an RFP is relatively standard, but even if two questions ask the same thing and require the same answer, at first human glance, the questions might look very different.

For example, one RFP might ask how many years your company has been in business, but the wording in your knowledge library question-and-answer pair might ask about the founding date. Both questions obviously have the same answer, but in the few seconds it takes the human mind to determine what search terms they should use, an automated system with machine learning will translate the question and provide the answer.

Scattered team

There’s a very good chance that you are reading this from the comfort of your own home, surrounded by a menagerie of furry friends. Alright, maybe I’m referring to my work situation, but I am far from unique.

In fact, 58 percent of workers work from home at least some of the time. Add those to the numbers of people on the road (common for SMEs) or those who work from other offices, and you can see why gathering your team in a single conference room is a challenge.

Project management software is the answer for most teams. Even here at RFPIO, our marketing and product teams rely on project management software. However, our response teams use RFPIO because it goes far beyond assigning roles and deliverables, although it does that as well.


  • Assists in the go/no-go process by producing trend analytics data from similar RFPs
  • Allows stakeholders to track their overall progress through their preferred CRM
  • Integrates with the most popular communication applications so teammates can stay in touch in real time
  • Provides a simple project overview dashboard for up-to-the-minute progress updates
  • Suggests SMEs based on expertise and availability
  • Leverages artificial intelligence to answer as much as 80 percent of an RFP’s questions
  • Produces the data you need for valuable postmortems

How to build a dynamic proposal management program

It would be really nice if we had a crystal ball that could predict our proposal response needs from year to year or even day to day. Some days you might have just one on your plate and others, let’s just say, more than one.

Even if we could predict our proposal volume, our needs and resource requirements vary according to customer, product, and bespoke particulars.

A dynamic proposal management program will provide you with the agility to respond to your response needs, regardless of volume or complexity.

Establish a clear mission statement

Think of your response team as a microcosm of your company. Your goals and objectives should align but also fit with your specific roles.

We recommend that you, like your company’s founders, create a mission statement to describe your areas of focus. For example, you might want to minimize SME participation, reduce response time, or win more bids. In that case, your mission statement might look something like this:

Our goal is to leverage technology to empower the response team to reduce proposal response time, efficiently manage knowledge library content to minimize subject matter expert participation, and deliver successful high-quality proposals via solicited and unsolicited bids.

  • Create and maintain a centralized repository for company knowledge and documents.
  • Establish efficient and scalable proposal service delivery.
  • Become a one-stop shop for quality proposal content.
  • Provide the content and tools necessary to create engaging and successful proposals.

Obtain company buy-in

If you ask most employees, and even most executives, what their proposal team does, there’s a good chance that they’ll only have a vague idea, even if they know what other revenue-generating teams bring to the table.

Even though most large purchases require a proposal, proposal teams often have to fight for company buy-in. Be sure to keep leadership in the loop regarding your goals and progress. Work with users to understand their content management and general work styles.

Recruit a winning proposal team

Creating high-quality winning proposals requires a very specialized team. You’ll need salespeople, marketing professionals, company authorities, storytellers, and editors. Some juggling skills wouldn’t hurt. If you’re thinking that’s a lot to ask of a single team, we’d have to agree.

Thankfully, your company has existing resources to help. Partnering with a salesperson or two can help you formulate the proposal. Your marketing team can provide you with approved messaging, or at least a messaging guideline. Subject matter experts are authorities within their respective realms, and proposal managers are often de facto company historians.

But every proposal team needs a core skill. They should be able to quickly craft compelling stories and wield an editor’s pen as well as a high school English teacher. In fact, writing and editing may be the most essential qualities in a proposal team member. With an excellent content and project management system, the rest can be taught.

Structure organizational procedures

A mission statement is only meaningful with the procedures to achieve your goals. If, for example, you want to minimize SME participation, you could give them more control over their content review cycles.

Not only will this help ensure that your team has accurate and usable content, but it will also demonstrate to the SMEs that you respect their time and expertise and make them more likely to want to work with you in the future.

Demonstrate growth with metrics and reports

Track your progress toward your goals with data. Generate reports showing your pipeline, SME engagement, win rate, numbers of responses, revenue generated, completed reviews, content use, and so on.

Build your content library

Your content doesn’t have to be siloed, even if your organization is. There is likely a wealth of company assets such as white papers, data sheets, message source documents, value discovery guides, product information and roadmaps, and other marketing materials.

Democratize your content library by allowing everyone access and working with content creation teams to ensure they file the assets for future use.

Enlist the right proposal management software

Your sales and marketing teams have customer relationship management software. Your HR and finance teams have their software. While it is possible to establish an effective response team without proposal management software, the right software will increase your win rate, drive more revenue, and conserve resources.

Look for proposal management software with project management features to help you choose your SMEs and keep your team on track. Find a robust content management system with built-in auditing tools. Invest in a platform that imports and exports in the customers’ preferred formats but provides a standardized working template for all your stakeholders.

Perhaps most importantly, look for customizable reporting features to help you decide whether to respond, determine how many resources you are using, and provide the data needed to make informed business decisions.

Value factors for choosing proposal management software

Do more with less—that seems to be the 21st century motto. Accomplishing that rather lofty goal requires the right productivity software. Look for proposal management software that has all the functionality you need today and is scalable for what you might need tomorrow.

Improved workflow collaboration

Today’s distributed and siloed workforces require advanced workflow collaboration tools to keep everyone singing the same song. Look for software that integrates with your existing workflow collaboration tools so users can communicate using those tools or directly through the proposal management platform.

Convenient integration capabilities

The last thing your IT team wants is to weigh down your company’s tech stack. Your proposal management software should integrate instead of compete with your cloud storage solution, CRM, project management, and other productivity tools. In other words, it should work the way you work.

Intelligent knowledge base

The knowledge management system is a vital component of any response software solution, but the wrong one could create more work instead of simplifying your response process.

Look for a knowledge base that stores the types of documents you use. The knowledge base should be accessible to anyone who needs it but secure enough to keep prying eyes away. The search functionality should recognize your language and search terms.

It should be intuitive, intelligent, and give you the correct answers when you need them. It should also assist with content moderation and your review cycles.

Built-in security standards

Data security is at the top of every CIO’s priority list, which is why they’ll need to be assured that proposal management software, along with every other piece of software, is fully compliant with the latest security protocols.

Advanced reporting features

While we’re on the subject of data, your proposal management software should offer advanced reporting capabilities to provide actionable insights to assist with everything from your go/no-go process, to where you are on any given project, to where you stand with your team’s quarterly or annual goals.

How RFPIO can help

RFPIO is like a rocket booster for your proposal management program. It handles the routine and surprisingly time-consuming aspects of proposal management, letting you focus on the content that will help win more bids and drive more revenue.

RFPIO’s indispensable features include the following:

  • Improved workflow collaboration – Whether your team works from a single office or several, keeping communication channels open is critical. RFPIO integrates with all the most popular communication applications, enabling your team to work directly through Slack, Microsoft Teams, Jira, and Google Hangouts.
  • Convenient integration capabilities – With more than two dozen integrations, RFPIO leads the pack, and we’re constantly adding more. The platform seamlessly integrates with your preferred CRM connectors, communication apps, productivity, sales enablement, and other applications.
  • Intelligent knowledge base – Use your time to create winning proposals instead of searching for the information you need. With just a few clicks, RFPIO will find you the correct answer to your previously answered questions. RFPIO® LookUp grants access to any authorized user from any place, as long as they have a browser.
  • Built-in security standards – RFPIO takes security very seriously. Our customer roster includes security experts such as Microsoft, Google, Visa, and Zoom, among many others. More specifically, we are ISO 27001 certified and compliant with AICPA SOC, GDPR, and the State of California.
  • Advanced reporting features – Gather the data to help you decide whether to respond to an RFP, track your project’s and team’s progress, analyze content usage, and your wins and losses. That’s just the beginning of the actionable insights RFPIO’s advanced reporting capabilities can provide.

*Next Action*

Proposal managers have a lot going on. RFXs are coming faster and faster, and expectations continue to rise. See how strategic proposal management software such as RFPIO can help you keep up with your increasing demands and make your company more profitable.

Schedule a free demo.

RFP automation: 14 tasks you can automate with RFPIO

RFP automation: 14 tasks you can automate with RFPIO

Talented people like yourself should spend your brainpower on strategizing, creating, and solving problems. Instead, many of us are spending too much time on tasks that can easily be automated.

As a subject matter expert (SME), your knowledge is forever in demand for your primary job responsibilities and the many other document requests that come from your team—like RFPs, DDQs, sales proposals, and security questionnaires.

You’re doing the best job that you can, but you have an inkling that there is a better way to do that job. If you investigate your RFP response process, two not-so-subtle clues will tell you when it’s time to take action and fix it:

  • Clue #1: You collaborate with proposal managers via back-and-forth emails and in-person meetings.
  • Clue #2: Your response content is lost inside a dark maze of document folders and spreadsheets.

Proposal automation tools are a packaged deal that includes project management and content management capabilities. To fix your response process, you need to automate it.

All the response management tasks you can automate

You may be thinking…doesn’t automation primarily affect low-skill, low-wage roles? Research shows that even the highest-paid occupations have a substantial amount of tasks that can be automated.

It turns out that 45% of the activities individuals perform every day can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies—like, ahem…RFP automation software. This is how RFPIO automates your process to save you precious minutes and hours that add up over time.

1. Receive email notifications for assigned questions.

When it’s time for you to be involved in a new RFP project, RFPIO ships off an automated email as soon as your project manager assigns questions for you to answer. No more guesswork means you know what your involvement is from the beginning.

2. Use the auto-response feature when you respond.

The auto-response feature is a crowd favorite for SMEs. Since content is already on-hand in your Content Library, use auto-response to quickly fill in relevant content from past responses.

3. Send notifications when questions are completed.

As soon as you mark a question completed, RFPIO sends an automatic notification to your project manager or a predetermined reviewer. Now you don’t need to send all of those manual updates and your project manager easily tracks your progress.

4. Raise clarifications within the appropriate question or section.

From time to time, you request clarifications from the issuer or your project manager. When the clarifications are received, these requests are imported and automatically reflected within the appropriate question.

5. Collaborate easily with your colleagues.

You don’t always have the answer, but you know a colleague who does. Simply post a comment within a question and the collaborator receives a notification. The collaborator’s response auto-populates right into RFPIO.

6. Collaborate seamlessly with third-party vendors.

All collaborators are welcome inside RFPIO, even when they are third-party vendors. Assign a guest user to collaborate on a question or section. Their response from an email portal automatically syncs within RFPIO.

7. Find content that lives in your Content Library.

Where’s the content? Right at your fingertips in a searchable content repository. RFPIO’s recommendation engine searches through the Content Library and provides recommended content within the project/question view.

8. Receive notifications to review questions.

Since your expertise is so valuable in the response process, you review content all the time—yet another task you need to automate. As soon as an assigned author finishes their response, you are automatically notified when the content is ready for review.

9. Send notifications when you’re finished reviewing.

After you review the response content, other team members are next in line for review and approval. As soon as you’re finished reviewing, the next reviewer receives an automatic notification. No need to “play telephone” anymore.

10. Keep track of content ownership responsibilities.

Specific content in the Content Library will fall under your area of expertise, making you the proud owner of these responses. As soon as a project manager assigns you as an owner, you get an automatic alert.

11. Receive cyclical content audit reminders.

Whether you audit your content monthly, quarterly, or annually, being prompted by an email reminder is much easier than manual reminders. Set up a content audit schedule of your choosing. RFPIO automatically resets the review cycle from that point forward at your chosen schedule.

12. Import new content into the Content Library quickly.

When new, updated content surfaces, you need to add it into the Content Library quickly so you and your team have immediate access. RFPIO’s import functionality adds new content, with little configuration on your part.

13. Manage duplicates effectively with reporting.

You’re ready to cull your Content Library and all you need to do is run the duplicate report. RFPIO automatically manages content duplicates so you clean up your response content with minimal effort.

14. Analyze your content with dynamic reporting.

The Content Library report is a dynamic report that allows you to analyze your content. Instead of remembering data or drilling down to look at your data, click on this dynamic report and dive right into your content data. Now you have everything you need to be proactive with responses that fall under your domain.

A lot of the tasks you’re doing today can be handled with RFP automation. Check out how RFPIO automates and revolutionizes your process.

Robust proposal automation software integrations for sales

Robust proposal automation software integrations for sales

You want one thing: To achieve your sales goals. But there are many steps between “wanting to achieve” and “actually achieving”. Effectively responding to RFPs is one of those steps.

Your team generates revenue when you win RFPs. Yet, responding to RFPs involves a substantial time commitment from sales, adding fuel to the fire for the 68% of salespeople who struggle with managing their time to focus on sales-related activities.

Rather than dwelling on what you can’t control, you’re here to take control. Proposal automation software has sparked your curiosity. You know it will save you time, but how exactly? You know it integrates with some technology, but which solutions? Let’s dig deeper into proposal automation software integrations so you know which benefits to expect.

RFPIO Salesforce integration

Many sales departments live and breathe in Salesforce. When your team isn’t interacting with prospects and customers, they probably turn to Salesforce for information. Your proposal automation software must integrate with the existing CRM system your team uses.

The RFPIO Salesforce integration helps sales teams like yours communicate more efficiently both inside and outside the platform. Integrating your customer relationship database with RFP response automation software consolidates your technology and makes RFP responses a breeze.

With the RFPIO Salesforce integration, you’ll have:

    • Instant access to your organization’s content library (RFPIO’s Content Library) and to all relevant CRM data inside one platform.
    • The ability to start a project by tying it to a Salesforce opportunity, automatically pulling in relevant data.
    • An easy way to submit RFP opportunities as intake requests.
    • Full visibility to track opportunities, active RFP responses, and sales.
    • A comprehensive overview at a glance to track progress and know where a project stands.
    • Salesforce reporting integration, which is key for both sales management and decision-makers.

In addition to the RFPIO Salesforce integration, RFPIO has several CRM integrations, with one certain to be the best fit for your organization. Other CRM integrations include: Pipelinedeals, HubSpot, Dynamics CRM, and Pipedrive.

“We have a more streamlined, collaborative process now. Our team works more easily together than ever before. If someone is looking at a Salesforce record, it is really convenient for them to be able to click on the RFPIO project to see those details.” ~ PerfectMind (read the full case study here)

Easy communication and simple access

As a sales professional, your day is filled with interpersonal communication. You need access to information for customer inquiries, working with prospects, and closing deals on the fly.

When you’re asked to respond to an RFP, the same need is just as critical. Technology like proposal automation software should work harder and smarter for you, making communication easier and access to information simpler to come by.

Slack and Microsoft Teams

RFPIO offers convenient communication integrations with Slack and Microsoft Teams. With a cloud-based communication platform like Slack, you know how easy it is to instant message across multiple devices and platforms in one shot.

With the RFPIO Slack integration, you’ll be able to:

  • Have a conversation with your whole team at a single point.
  • Send notifications to both RFPIO Slack and a configured channel.
  • Reply to messages from Slack and populate them in RFPIO.
  • Search your organization’s content library in Slack.

RFPIO provides integration with Microsoft Teams too. You’ll experience many of the same benefits. RFP projects can be added to a Microsoft Teams board. Respond to questions, use the recommendations library, attach documents, add clarifications, and export responses.

No more tracking emails and instant messages in multiple platforms, searching through spreadsheets, and making unnecessary phone calls to busy colleagues. Slack and Microsoft Team integrations with RFPIO simplify your communication tactics and improve team collaboration on RFP responses.

SSO (Single-Sign-On) Authentication

Single-sign-on (SSO) authentication integration streamlines your daily processes even further. RFPIO has integrations with Microsoft ADFS, Microsoft Azure, Onelogin and Okta. When an RFP, RFI, or security questionnaire project comes up, jump right into the project with one simple and secure login no matter where you are.

63% of salespeople said RFPIO enables them to automate their process, granting them more time to pursue new business with RFPs. Instant and secure information access simplifies your RFP responses, saves you time and effort, and lets you focus on your prime directive—sales.

Cloud integrations streamline information

RFPIO is a cloud-based solution that automates and streamlines the process of responding to RFPs. Leveraging this technology, we’ve integrated with several popular cloud storage platforms, including Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Sharepoint, and Box.

Cloud integration enhances collaboration—and better collaboration makes everyone’s job easier. The next time you’re assigned a handful of RFP questions, you won’t have to deal with information silos. Documents and collateral materials are readily accessible across platforms and devices in the cloud.

Easy online content access with RFPIO Lookup

Last but not least is RFPIO Lookup, which is one of our most popular integrations for sales teams…after Salesforce and SSO. RFPIO integrates with Google Chrome so you can access content right from your web browser. You can smell the sweet scent of time-savings already, can’t you?

Simply download and install the Chrome extension and search your organization’s content library by keyword—Lookup delivers advanced search capabilities with filters. Another important aspect of RFPIO Lookup is being able to create a project in RFPIO, even when you’re responding to a question.

You’re looking for an RFP response automation solution to work hard for you so that you can stay focused on closing deals for your organization. With several robust, bi-directional integrations, RFPIO is the answer. Let RFPIO work harder and smarter for you on your next RFP response. Schedule a demo today.

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.