How to Transform Your RFP Process: Best Practices Used by Alight

Katie Flood
Katie Flood

Saying that global solution Alight has grown quickly is an understatement. The cloud-based provider serves 4,300 clients across 100 countries worldwide—including 70% of the Fortune 100.

Today, Alight is the leading provider of integrated digital human capital and business solutions. But just less than five years ago, their proposal team was just forming after separating from Aon in 2017. Ever since its inception, the global organization has been at a running pace to win its market—with RFPs as an important part of its growth.

In this blog, you’ll learn how Alight’s proposal team, led by Valerie Mammales, contributed to the agile growth of their global organization. Plus, real examples of how they successfully implemented RFP process best practices.

Here are the three key strategies behind Alight’s winning proposal process:

  1. Create a Tiered System that Prioritizes High-Value RFPs
  2. Maintain Content Through A Centralized Source of Truth
  3. Prove Your RFP Team Value to the C-Suite

Create a Tiered System to Prioritize High-Value Proposals (RFP Process Example)

Alight’s global proposals leader, Valerie Mammales, has been in the proposal space for more than 20 years, advancing from a writer to a global RFP team leader. Today, she manages a team that submits hundreds of RFPs annually across the globe. (All while undergoing multiple acquisitions.)

Over the years, Valerie has developed models for winning RFPs and global best practices, all while directing an efficient and engaged team. To prioritize her team’s work, she’s created a tiered model for delivery, which requires each RFP to be qualified before resources from her team are assigned.

This process ensures Val’s team strategically focuses on RFPs that are a good fit for the company, likely to win, and won’t burn resources on requests they can’t deliver. Essentially, sales reps need to meet several qualifications before the RFP team jumps into the proposal process. (Below is an example of how this works.)

Alight’s RFP Process Steps💡 (Evaluation Criteria)

  1. A sales rep triggers the opportunity in Salesforce and completes a ‘Sales Resource Request Form’.
  2. As part of this form, the rep builds a strategic plan, which the RFP team uses to help qualify the opportunity.
  3. The model automatically scores each RFP based on several factors to determine resource alignment. (Factors include: the status of relationship and project scope against a pool of similar clients to validate the evaluation criteria.)

“The score immediately tells me if an RFP is a good fit or not,” says Valerie. “If the score is above a certain number, we typically see that we move to the next round and will present our capabilities. If it’s below that number, the support we provide is based on our overall capacity.”

“Our support model has greatly improved our efficiencies so we can meet our sales needs promptly and also help them to self-serve. The more value we deliver to stakeholders and clients, the more we drive Alight’s growth.”
Valarie Mammales, Global Proposal Development Leader
Alight

Once the RFP aligned with Val’s model, a proposal manager is assigned. The tiering system determines the level of support that her team will provide based on resources, deal size, and the likelihood of winning.

Prioritizing RFPs based on the ability to win (and aligning to the company’s key objectives) has enabled Alight’s proposal team to influence a significant amount of income for the business.

Maintain Content Through A Centralized Source of Truth (RFP Library)

Between 2018 and 2021, Alight underwent nine acquisitions. With each acquisition, more proposal professionals were integrated into Val’s global proposal team.

Rapid growth like this—particularly through M&As—creates a lot of change for any proposal team. You may need to update hundreds of RFP answers (sometimes thousands) after one M&A to ensure your team is using accurate and up-to-date content in business proposals. However, Alight’s proposal team used this growth trajectory to their advantage.

In anticipation of Alight going public in July 2021, Valerie saw an opportunity to update content across their global proposals. She rallied business stakeholders around a shared deadline for making updates to all RFP answers in one unified system.

Alight’s Single Source of Truth 📖  (Content Library)

Val’s team focused on centralizing content systems through people and technology to meet their company growth goals.

    • Centralizing content through technology. 💻  Although Alight’s proposal team was expanding quickly, their tools hadn’t kept pace with the company’s rapid growth. For the past 10 years, they used an RFP software that the team found challenging, with answers that soon became dated. After looking into several RFP response platforms, Alight chose Loopio, for its easy-to-use content library that streamlines complex RFPs.
    • Centralizing content through people. 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦  Alight focused on building a ‘center of excellence’ (COE) for their RFPs. Based out of Granada, Spain, the COE includes best practices from proposal managers, content managers, and sales operations leaders across the global proposals team. Together, they worked diligently on consolidating and optimizing RFP answers from Alight’s nine acquisitions into Loopio’s RFP response software.

After organizing and optimizing thousands of RFP answers across several combined companies—Val could encourage the whole company to use Loopio as their source of truth for all proposal content.

Show Your RFP Team’s Value to the C-Suite

Valerie believes every proposal leader should know how their work influences the business and the financial impact they make.

That’s why she’s part of a women’s leadership development program at Alight. Through this program, she’s learning how to be an advocate for herself, creating her leadership story, and getting comfortable discussing financials. “Women typically stray from discussing the financial impact of their work,” explains Valerie.

“Knowing the impact your work has on growth and the business is a big part of holding a seat at the table. Leadership needs visibility into the work that is being done and value that is being added.”
Valarie Mammales, Global Proposal Development Leader
Alight

Plus, speaking about your business value also positions your team as a strategic partner, not just an order-taker. At Alight, leadership recognizes Valerie’s proposal team as an essential part of the sales processes, thanks to the work she has done to proactively keep pace with the changing business.

“Being a strategic advisor differentiates our team,” explains Valerie. “In the last four years, Alight has transformed dramatically. We’ve incorporated legacy organizations with mergers and acquisitions and went public in 2021. Throughout all this transformation, the proposal team has remained a continuous advisor around RFPs and proposal development for the company.”

Best practices from Valerie’s team enable Alight to consistently deliver a high volume of winning RFP responses. Throughout Alight’s transformation over the past five years, the proposal team has kept pace with the company’s rapid growth—and showcased their long-term value for the business.

Want more best practices that can help you achieve similar results? Read the complete Alight case study now.

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