New Research: How Are Proposal Teams Adopting AI in 2024

Cheyanne Lobo

The proposal landscape is fiercely competitive. But using AI can be like having the sharper sword in a duel—it gives you a competitive edge. 🤺

In the proposal industry, this technology can help you win more deals faster by assisting with tasks from the early stages of drafting content to win theme analysis.

Of course, there are potential drawbacks (which are also worthy of pause and consideration). That’s why, in this article, we’ll be exploring new research from Loopio’s 2024 RFP Trends & Benchmarks Report to learn how teams are actually using AI in their proposal management programs and how you can, too.

The Current State of AI Adoption by Proposal Teams

In 2024, AI tools are impacting all types of content writing from marketing campaigns to magazine articles. So it’s no surprise that interest has been piqued for the proposal industry as well.

After the release of ChatGPT, interest in AI technology spiked (just take a look at LinkedIn). But, despite the hype, it seems that only 34% of teams have actually used generative AI in their RFP response processes.

Of the participants, 34% said they used generative AI in their RFP response process, 60% said they did not, and 6% were unsure.

Over the last 12 months, have you used generative AI in any part of your RFP process? | 2024 Trends

Over the last 12 months, have you used generative AI in your RFP process?

It seems that despite all the discussion, the proposal industry has not yet moved towards widespread adoption of AI yet. (Which may actually prove to be a competitive advantage for early adopters.)

 

The Benefits of Early AI Adoption

AI is quickly evolving from a neat experimental tool to a must-have for proposal teams aiming for efficiency, productivity, or a competitive edge. Let’s be clear: AI is not perfect, and it is certainly not a hands-off tool. It works best when paired with a human copilot to craft a standout RFP response that wins new business. But that said, here’s the key benefits AI has to offer:

  • Efficiency: Free Up Time for What Matters

    While AI can handle tedious, repetitive tasks (like figuring out which SME to tag for reviews), your proposal team can free up time for high-impact tasks that require the human touch. For example, you can focus your efforts on crafting compliant, relevant, and personalized content, ultimately improving engagement with evaluators and enticing busy decision-makers.

  • Convenience: Access Content at Your Fingertips

    AI can help you beat the blank page with trusted, curated information at the start of the proposal generation process. For example, Loopio’s content library centralizes all your responses so that your team can quickly find vetted answers. But if you can’t seem to find exactly what you’re looking for, you can use AI to generate answers based on knowledge in your trusted library. Basically, it’s a speedy sidekick for any proposal manager.

  • Editing: Support From a Virtual Companion

    AI acts as your brainstorming partner to help you spark fresh ideas. Like any helpful writing buddy, it can tailor the tone and formality of your writing for an RFP. Plus, AI functions as a neutral proofreader, providing that crucial second set of eyes to catch errors when the words seem to blur together. 😵‍💫

⭐ Tip: RFP Software Users More Likely to Try AI

It’s no coincidence that software users are more likely to have tried generative AI than the average team. Many RFP software tools have implemented AI features into their platform to help improve efficiency. 🤖

Loopio’s platform, for example, helps you securely generate answers, connect with the right SME, and improve answers based on writing best practices—all powered by AI technology.

5 Ways Proposal Professionals Are Adopting AI in 2024

Around 46% of RFP teams feel optimistic about using AI, but how are early adopters actually using this technology in practice?

In short, early adopters are leaning on AI for summarizing, writing, and editing—while competitive research and market analysis are not yet top use cases.

How Early Adopters Are Leveraging Generative AI Respondents could choose multiple answers.

How Early Adopters are Leveraging Generative AI

Here are five tactical examples of how RFP teams are leveraging AI to streamline their workflow and give themselves a competitive advantage. 💪

1. Summarizing Information

Reading big blocks of text can be dizzying—especially after your fourth proposal of the week. 🥴 That’s why AI is a big help for summarizing information, like condensing executive bios, providing key points for executive summaries, or quickly developing action items from proposal kickoff meetings. This allows proposal teams to summarize information concisely and effectively, even when up against tight deadlines.

2. Write a Faster First Draft

With the help of AI, first-draft RFP responses can be created lightning-fast. ⚡ That’s because AI can assist in generating responses that align with the RFP criteria by quickly processing and interpreting the requirements of an RFP. This speeds up the initial drafting by providing your team with examples of how to respond (which in turn reduces blank page anxiety). With this speedy first draft, you can now focus on refining and customizing the content to the buyer’s needs.

3. Editing the RFP Response

After the initial draft, 43% of teams say they’re using AI to refine the RFP response in the editing stage. You can use AI to predict potential pitfalls, highlight areas that need extra attention, and suggest ways to frame value propositions more effectively. If you provide specific instructions, it can also edit content for clarity and coherence with the RFP guidelines. AI can even check for grammar or spelling errors, suggest better word choices, and ensure that responses have the same tone throughout because consistency is key. 🔑

4. Competitive Research & Market Analysis

When we asked 1650+ RFP teams how they’d like to be using AI, the number one answer was for competitive research. Yet, today, only 37% of early adopters say they use generative AI for this. The benefits are clear: proposal teams can use AI to sift through vast amounts of data to identify market trends, analyze competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, and understand buyer personas. By leveraging AI, professionals can quickly gather insights that inform strategic positioning, and tailor proposals to address the specific needs of their target audience.

5. Storyboard or Outline Creation

Super tight turnaround times, are a struggle proposal managers know all too well. In the rush to meet these deadlines, the strategic step of outlining or storyboarding often gets sacrificed. But AI can be a valuable asset to offset this during crunch time. ⏱️ While this technology won’t replace your expertise, it can act as a powerful brainstorming buddy, saving you valuable hours to quickly put together an outline for your proposal.

💡 AI Advancements for SME Collaboration

According to the 2024 RFP Trends Report, the top challenge for proposal teams is collaboration with internal subject matter experts (SMEs). As companies expand, tracking down the right person to answer or verify responses for a proposal becomes increasingly challenging.

That’s where AI-powered features like Recommended Experts come in. This helpful Loopio-specific tool can identify and connect you with the right SME in your organization to quickly review the accuracy of a response. That means your RFP will use the experience of your in-house experts, but without all the back-and-forth. Phew. 😎

Related: New: Need Sales Answers Fast? Access Loopio From Anywhere

How to Balance AI-Generated Content with Human Expertise

Although AI-generated proposals are on the rise, the importance of human expertise cannot be overstated. AI-generated content can boost productivity (and speed), but only when paired with a human who knows how to effectively coach it. Your expertise as a proposal professional is what crafts a winning proposal to align with your company’s unique voice and value props.

That’s why we recommend keeping these four considerations in mind (below) when using AI for your proposal program.

  • Personalize Your Proposal With the Human Touch ⭐

    As procurement teams see more and more AI-generated content, submitting personalized, original responses will help you stand apart from the competition.

    Your unique creativity and detailed knowledge are vital for editing AI-generated outputs and ensuring that proposals are meticulously tailored to the client’s requirements. In this context, human-written cover letters play a crucial role in connecting to the buyer personally, and showcasing attention to detail for their specific needs.

  • Always Factcheck to Maintain Proposal Integrity

    Over 75% of consumers are concerned about misinformation from AI. 🤯 And it’s a valid concern, especially when it comes to proposal management. Human oversight is necessary to ensure the content you create is accurate.

    To maintain integrity and authenticity, AI-generated content should always be fact-checked by proposal managers, writers, or other team members. AI-generated content may serve as an initial draft, but avoid direct copying and pasting when creating proposals. Using your expertise vs. AI means you’ll also avoid risks like copyright infringement or using someone’s intellectual property.

  • Train and Develop an AI-Ready Team

    Having an AI-ready team is as crucial as choosing the right AI tool. Understanding the capabilities and limitations of different AI models is paramount, and teams should be trained on how to interact with these tools.

    The ability to vet AI-created content and knowing when to add the human touch are essential for maintaining proposal quality. That’s why training should encompass:

    • Education about industry-specific legal regulations
    • An understanding of how data is collected and analyzed
    • Ethical considerations like bias and responsible AI usage

    Once you’ve selected an AI tool that is safe, meets your standards, and you’ve trained your team–you’ll be ready to create high-quality proposals with less effort.

  • Follow Company-Wide Policies and Safeguards

    Implementing comprehensive security policies is a key step in mitigating risks with AI-driven proposal development. That’s why most organizations:

    • Implement data privacy and compliance protocols for AI
    • Outline how employees can adhere to privacy policies when using AI tools
    • Establish an accountability structure to address any violations

    Open AI technology like ChatGPT carries inherent risk, but selecting the right AI-driven response software means there are assurances around data protection and compliance. For example, Loopio takes integrity, ethical conduct, and compliance seriously in all aspects of its business—especially for the AI functionality in our platform.

🤖 Choose the Right Artificial Intelligence Tools for Your Proposal Creation Process

While proposal writing AI offers tons of benefits, choosing the right tool is crucial. It’s important to compare features and ask the right questions, like:

  • Does the AI solution integrate with your CRM?
  • Is it compatible with existing workflow tools?
  • Will it protect sensitive data from past proposals?
  • Is the information it’s pulling from, accurate & up-to-date?
  • Is the time saved using artificial intelligence greater than the time spent reviewing its output?

The Future of AI in Proposal Development

This year, the upcoming release of Sora promises to bring new dimensions to proposal development. With Sora, proposal teams may soon be able to create custom videos and graphics for strategic deals. This advancement could offer another way for proposal teams to produce compelling visual content that stands out in a competitive market.

Looking ahead, AI has a promising future in proposal development. It can act as your not-so-secret weapon to offer you an edge in an increasingly competitive market—if you can continue to balance its benefits with human expertise.

According to a report from Bloomberg Intelligence, the AI market size is expected to reach $1.3 Trillion by 2032. The market is exploding, and proposal teams who ignore this trend may risk falling behind. When used correctly and paired with the best-in-class RFP software, AI is a game-changer for the proposal development process, from start to finish.

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