How to Get Buy-in for an RFP Platform
So you’ve decided that an RFP platform is right for your team. Congratulations! It’s time to start automating your RFP process. Now comes the work of getting buy-in from your colleagues for adopting a new tool.
In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step process for getting enthusiastic approval from the people who matter most: your leadership, subject matter experts, and other users of your RFP software. You’ll learn how to get buy-in for an RFP platform by understanding:
- How to influence key stakeholders involved
- The four ways to explain the benefits of RFP automation software
Tailor Your Approach: How to Influence Key Stakeholders for an RFP Platform
The number of stakeholders you’ll need to involve will depend on the size of your organization. The larger the organization, the more complex the RFP process, and the more people who will need to approve the platform.
And just as you do with your RFPs, you’ll need to tailor your argument for RFP automation software to each stakeholder. Here are some quick strategies you can use to demonstrate how an RFP tool can help each stakeholder achieve their business goals.
Subject Matter Experts: Explain How an RFP Tool Makes Their Lives Easier
Subject matter experts (SMEs) are the expertise army behind your RFP. They’re the internal experts who know about different areas of your business and are needed to complete RFPs. SMEs include:
- Technical or product team members
- Customer success specialists
- Any managers, or directors, who are needed for approvals
When tailoring your argument for RFP automation software to SMEs, be sure to explain how an RFP platform makes their lives easier and saves them time. Features they’ll care most about include:
- Library to store and review knowledge. SMEs are often asked to repeat their answers during the RFP response process, and an RFP tool provides a central Library to store information that can be accessed by everyone. Plus, an RFP solution can simplify version control issues by capturing new content from your responses, which can be used in future RFPs. This saves SMEs time when it comes to updating content or informing team members of recent changes.
- An intuitive workspace for collaboration and oversight. Having a system with workflows for individual questions and sending requests for approvals can streamline communication. It also makes it easier for SMEs to see all of the projects they have to work on at a glance (instead of jumping between channels, documents, and file drives.)
Sales Teams: Focus on RFP Process Efficiencies
Sales team members manage revenue goals and pipeline on a daily basis. So they tend to care most about efficiency and typically look for ways to streamline processes so they can focus on hitting targets. Team members can include:
- Sales Engineers
- Solutions Engineers
- Sales Reps
- Sales Enablement Manager
- Sales Operations
- Business Development
- Head of Sales (or Operations)
Explain how these team members will save time through features that automate tedious parts of the process, including:
- Auto-fill in answers to repetitive questions. Software often suggests answers based on questions you’ve completed before. So be sure to explain the time-savings that will come from RFP response software taking a first pass at your answers.
- A customizable, searchable content library. Stakeholders will appreciate the ability to organize the most reusable and relevant content in a way that’s easy for sales team members to find whenever they need it for a proposal, email or sales call.
Overall, make sure you emphasize the benefits of a streamlined, transparent response process that will help teams respond to an RFP faster, so they can focus on closing more deals.
Security Teams: Emphasize Why This’ll Help Them Focus on Their Real Job
Security teams are the most tech-savvy stakeholders of the bunch, and they’re usually very detail-oriented. Members usually include security and infosec managers, plus your legal and/or compliance team.
First, emphasize why an automation tool will help them focus on their real jobs. By having security answers in an RFP library, they’ll no longer have to respond to the same questions over and over again. Plus, having a library of pre-approved security answers means that any team member can take a first pass at responses, so you’ll only have to tap into security for new questions or final reviews.
Security teams will likely want lots of details on the platform’s backend security, so make sure you provide them with proper documentation for any platform you’re considering. Ask your vendor for a security package that includes a recent copy of their Security Operations Center (SOC) 2 Type 2 audit to speed up the approvals process.
Finance Leaders: Focus on the Potential for More Revenue Through RFPs
Finance leaders, like CFOs, are important to engage in the RFP platform buy-in process, as they often have to approve the final purchase. The key to getting buy-in from financial leaders is involving them early in the process—instead of waiting until you’re ready to send them a contract to review.
They are primarily concerned with how new software will create efficiencies that save money and drive growth. So, focus on how RFP automation software reduces business costs by enabling your team to complete more RFPs (with the same headcount) and ultimately, speed up the sales process.
Need more proof? Tell them it’ll also improve proposal consistency and quality, which can increase win rates.
Executives: Impress Them With Competitive Stats
If your organization is a small to mid-sized business, you may need to get buy-in from members of your executive team too. Similar to finance leadership, C-suite executives are primarily concerned with growing their business as efficiently as possible.
Impress your C-suite executives with statistics on how RFP software gives companies a competitive advantage. For example, companies who use RFP software see:
- 35% time saved during the RFP response process
- 37% more RFPs answered
- 10% shorter sales cycle
P.S. Not quite sure how to choose the right software for your team? Check out our guide to the RFP Solution Buying Process to see what steps you need to take before committing to a tool.
The Top Benefits of Adopting an RFP Platform
If you’re looking for a simple way to explain all of the benefits of adopting an RFP response solution, here are four overarching value drivers to share.
1. “We’ll save a lot of time through RFP automation.”
According to Loopio’s RFP Management Benchmarks & Trends Report, organizations spend an average of 23.8 hours on a single RFP. Several groups that report a higher percentage of overall sales revenue from RFPs are also more likely to spend 41+ hours per RFP. But RFP software can save time by:
- Automating suggestions for frequently asked questions
- Minimizing manual tasks—like copying and pasting answers
- Ensuring consistent formatting through branded templates
2. “We need easy access to collective team knowledge.”
44% of teams say finding the best, most accurate answers is a top challenge in the RFP process. (Share this article with your colleagues for proof.) An RFP platform equips your team with accurate answers in a searchable RFP library, which reduces time and confusion when it comes to searching for accurate, up-to-date answers to questions.
Having easy access to quality, on-brand answers not only eliminates the need to search through multiple sources for answers, but it also means SMEs won’t get asked repetitive questions over and over again.
3. “We’ll have a more efficient, transparent process for all.”
The RFP process usually involves Excel sheets, Word documents, emails, perhaps some Slack messages…basically, a whole lot of fragmentation. Software centralizes content management and RFP response writing into one system, which makes the whole process more efficient and effective.
RFP tools also unlock better collaboration for cross-functional teams—which is important, since industry research shows that organizations involving more people in the RFP process have higher win rates. Basically, the more people who lend their expertise, the more likely a win is.
A single system that tracks all your RFP projects ensures you’ll never miss a deadline because you can see who has made changes, who has outstanding tasks, etc. Reporting capabilities can also help you see what content is getting used the most, individual team member workloads, and more.
Overall, using one platform makes the RFP process more streamlined, collaborative, and transparent for everyone involved.
4. “We will be able to handle a lot more RFPs–and win more business.”
Teams who use RFP software respond to an average of 152 RFPs every year, compared to those without software, who respond to only 103.
Without RFP automation and centralization, it can be difficult to answer all of the RFPs that you could be responding to (while maintaining consistency). RFP automation unlocks potential for more business because your team is able to respond to more RFPs in less time—without sacrificing answer quality.
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