Proposals in 30 Minutes (or Less): One Business Development Leader Shares His Advice

Katie Flood
Katie Flood

What do pizza chains and Australian-owned Aspen Medical’s Business Development team have in common? They can both deliver high-quality work in about 30 minutes or less.

However, the healthcare provider isn’t delivering pies. They’re submitting proactive proposals that are typically eight to 10 pages long. But things weren’t always this fast-moving. When John Kelly, Director of Business Development, joined the company 14 months ago, he noticed a lack of consistency in their responses.

“We didn’t have an efficient way to organize and share proposal content, so our RFPs varied greatly in terms of quality and formatting,”
John Kelly, Director of Business Development
Aspen Medical

Aspen Medical’s business development team had lots of useful content, but it was spread across desktops, SharePoint, and previous RFPs. The team spent hours searching for content and recreating files that already existed—time that they could have spent bringing in new business. John decided to use Loopio, an RFP response software, to centralize Aspen Medical’s content. Since then, the team has:

  • Completed RFPs in 30 minutes (or less) vs. hours
  • Increased consistency and improved proposal quality
  • Reduced internal content requests for the business development team

However, speeding up the proposal process goes beyond simply adopting software. Below, John shares five tips for reducing the time it takes to complete bids—without sacrificing quality.

How to do Proposals in 30 Minutes (or Less)

1. Focus on the Work That Matters

Aspen Medical has a high strike rate. John attributes much of their success to their pre-qualification process.

“The people who do the best with RFPs are the ones who fill out the least number of them,” says John. “That’s why we pre-qualify our prospects and only reply to the RFPs that we have the greatest chance of winning. You will save a lot of time and frustration by only focusing on the proposals that matter.”

If you don’t already have a pre-qualification process like John, you can download a free RFP decision template here.

2. Get Buy-in Early in the Process

John screens all incoming RFPs. Then, he sends them to a committee that decides if Aspen Medical wants to move forward. The committee includes senior executives, operations people, clinicians, and anyone else who should contribute to the bid or will work with the client in the future.

They schedule two bid review meetings each week, where the business development team presents a summary of each RFP and how they plan to respond to it. The Executive Chairman or CEO makes the final decision of whether or not to go forward with an RFP.

John also uses these meetings to get buy-in from anyone who needs to generate content for the bids, such as price lists or other bespoke materials. The weekly meetings keep stakeholders informed and help the RFP process flow smoothly.

3. Don’t Just Fill in the Blanks

Many sales leaders view proposals as distractions from their other business development efforts. So, they treat them like forms they must complete with as little effort as possible.

However, John has a different relationship with RFPs. He sees them as essential to the sales process. “RFPs are competitions between a few providers,” says John. “If you give the best response, you’re more likely to get shortlisted and eventually win the business.”

“Instead of thinking about proposals as just another box to check, think about how you can use them to sell. For us, this means customizing every proposal to speak to each customer’s needs.”
John Kelly, Director of Business Development
Aspen Medical

improve-your-RFP-response-process-through-RFP-academy


4. Build an RFP Content Library That’s Easy For Others to Search

Aspen Medical’s proposal content was spread across systems—making it difficult for the business development team to find information. They turned to John when they got stuck, and he would then have to spend countless hours helping them locate data.

John also spent an extensive amount of time reviewing bids to ensure that they were formatted correctly, and didn’t contain any errors. “I used to work until midnight on bids,” says John. “I wanted to centralize all of our RFP content so that people could easily find what they were looking for. A central library would also allow me to walk out the door at the end of the day without needing to review every single document that we created.”

Now, with Loopio’s RFP content Library, the business development team can search for answers in a single database. But beyond having a Library, John feels it’s important to develop a system for keeping your content fresh.

“One of my biggest struggles was keeping our library up-to-date,” says John. “Loopio automatically recognizes new content and makes it available in the Library—ensuring that all of our global business development reps find the latest information quickly.”

5. Make it Easy for Your Team to Adopt New Tools

One of the biggest challenges when rolling out new technology or software in the workplace is having staff adopt it in their day-to-day processes. If your team members are used to doing things a certain way, they may not want to change their processes.

John wanted to ensure that his team got immediate value from Loopio’s bid management platform so they’d be more likely to adopt it. So, he pre-loaded the Library with the content that they used the most frequently when responding to RFPs. Since the business development team can now find this information in one convenient location, they are less likely to fall back on other options or create workarounds.

“If your system gives you utility, people will use it,” says John. Centralizing their content and using RFP automation has allowed Aspen Medical to create custom, high-quality bids, faster.

“Loopio allows us to write proactive proposals that contain more accurate and timely information,” says John. “We often need to respond quickly with tailored content, and Loopio allows us to do this.”

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