Six Trends Shaping RFP Management in 2022

Senior Content Marketing Manager at Loopio
Katie Flood

Despite last year’s peaks and valleys—RFP teams took a professional leap forward over the past 12 months. The industry gained new resources, tightened up processes, and improved win/loss insights.

Looking ahead to 2022, we don’t have a crystal ball. But we do have thousands of data points from teams who collectively responded to 111,097 RFPs last year alone. It’s all been compiled into Loopio’s third annual 2022 RFP Response Benchmarks & Trends Report, which surveyed 811 RFP teams across North America, spanning 15+ industries.

In this blog, you’ll learn about the top trends from that original research report. Plus, tips on what your team should do to get ahead of the competition in 2022.

1. More Companies Invest in RFP Operations (Plus, a Proposal-Led Process)

A whopping 80% of companies say they’re increasing resources for their RFP program in 2022. The top investment areas are training teams, hiring more staff, and investing in new technology.

Read more about resource investment in 2022 RFP Trends Report

Resource Investments for 2022 | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

It’s a good thing they’re investing too, because 57% of companies also say they’re increasing RFP targets this year. (This marks an increase of 10% from last year, which saw 47% of teams say they plan to increase targets.)

Speaking of investments, the research shows there’s also been an increasing number of dedicated proposal teams owning the RFP process. This year’s average (42%) marks an increase of 5% from the year before (37%).

Process ownership - 2022 trends

Ownership of Process | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

This shift is likely what’s led to other changes observed in the Trends Report, including the fact that more companies are using a dedicated go/no-go process (76% of companies report using one).

✓ Advice for 2022: If you’re not already using one, encourage your team to use a scoring system to quickly decide which RFPs to take on. Whether you’re in sales or proposals, there’s a reason why three-quarters of RFP teams are using this classic evaluation framework. Download a free go/no-go decision template here.

“True value comes from proposal teams really owning the process and showing up to these RFPs as a strategic partner.”
Olivia Hartman
Olivia Hartman, MPH

Senior Manager, Proposals
Lyra Health

2. Top Reason for Losing Bids Shifts, From Price → Competitors

This year, when asked why they lost RFPs, the top reason was “Lost to a competitor” (versus last year, which saw “Price of our solution” as the top reason).

Read more about top reasons for loosing RFPs

Top Reasons for Losing Bids | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

Two main factors influenced this shift.

  1. Buyers are less price-sensitive in 2021. Likely a surprise to no one—but teams saw a downturn in sales in 2020: 35% of teams said that they received fewer RFPs as a result of COVID-19 in 2020.
  2. More proposal teams running the process = more scrutiny. An increase in RFP teams running the process (see Trend #1) likely means that bid-loss analysis is becoming more accurate. Instead of relying on the default answer of ‘price’, more teams recognize that they lost to a competitor or that their product doesn’t meet a prospect’s needs.

✓ Advice for 2022: Whether you’re on a proposal or sales team—win/loss insights are critical to your success in winning future RFPs. So if you’re still not clear on the reasons why your team loses, consider investing in a dedicated win/loss tool (like Clozd or Klue) that helps improve your analysis.

3. Writing Time Holds Steady (Avg. 24 Hours)

The average time spent writing an RFP response remains consistent over the past three years: approximately 24 dedicated hours for each bid.

The fact that this remains steady is particularly impressive, given that 51% of organizations say they responded to more RFPs this year. This could be due to added support that scales the writing process as many companies received new resources (44%) like RFP response software this year.

Either way, when we drill down by roles, we see some interesting trends within the average. Proposal managers clearly spend the most time writing.

Read more about Writing Time by Role in 2022

Writing Time by Role | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

And although proposal roles spend more time writing than others overall, they’ve actually decreased their year-over-year writing time
. Last year, proposal managers spent 30 hours on each bid—this year that average dropped to 27.

Parallel to this, other teams increased their writing time year-over-year. Sales reps and leaders each spend 2-3 hours more time writing, in comparison to last year. This could mean that proposal teams have been more successful at assigning sections to other teams to write—which is a very encouraging trend because it demonstrates stronger alignment between departments.

✓ Advice for 2022: Interestingly, increased writing time still correlates with higher win rates. Top-performing teams spent approximately two more hours than the average on writing: 26 hours vs. 24 hours. (Notably, this is still less than the average proposal manager.) So if you’re spending significantly less time writing than the average, and your win rates are low, it may be worth investigating resources you can lean on to improve your writing quality. Consider working with a consultant, like Strategic Proposals, who are known for their end-to-end strategy on winning bids.

“This is not just answering an exam paper. This is about telling a story in the document. You convince the client through the way you put your messages across that you’re the right people for them to work with.”
Jon Williams
Managing Director
Strategic Proposals

4. Internal Collaboration Rises to #1 Challenge for RFP Teams

Previously, the top challenge for RFP teams was finding up-to-date answers. This year, receiving timely responses from internal subject matter experts (SMEs) became the biggest hurdle.

Read more about Top challenges in Response process

Top Challenges | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

It could be that the effects of more remote work are wreaking havoc on team coordination. But either way, trouble engaging SMEs seems to be a recurring threat to RFP response process efficiency.

We asked: “Which actions do you think your company should take to increase its chances of winning more RFPs in 2022?” The number one answer was: “Require SMEs to answer questions in a timely fashion.”

✓ Advice for 2022: Make the process easier for SMEs. If you can develop a clear content management strategy, with a strong, searchable library, you won’t have to ask your SMEs for answers over and over again. If you can’t get past this hurdle, you’ll continue to face an uphill push against this huge challenge (and risk falling behind your competitors).

3 Simple Steps Towards Collaborative Content Management

    1. Audit your content, then create a maintenance plan.
    2. Next, determine what to keep, rewrite, or delete.
    3. Finally, put this all together into a system that your whole team can access. You can start simple, with something like a word doc, leverage wiki tools like Notion, or make a business case for getting a dedicated RFP platform.

5. Software Improves Win Rates, Satisfaction, and Stress

Teams with dedicated RFP software are more satisfied with their win rates—61% versus 50%. They are also more likely to say they’re pleased with their process efficiency, as well as the quality of RFPs submitted. But perhaps the most curious trend: software users are more likely to say they have manageable stress levels.

Read more about employee sentiment

Employee Sentiment | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

Interestingly, having manageable stress levels actually correlates with higher win rates. Those who are satisfied with their process have a win rate of 48%, compared to 40% among those who are dissatisfied.

✓ Advice for 2022: The past year marked a major milestone for employee turnover, known as the great resignation. If you’re not yet measuring your team’s satisfaction with the RFP process, now is the time to start. Use a simple Google form with less than five questions to get the ball rolling, asking which team they are from, how satisfied they are with their process efficiency, quality of work, and collaboration with other departments.

6. Variances in Proposal Professional Salaries

Research shows that the average salary for proposal professionals surveyed is $87,000 USD annually. The majority earn between $51,000 to 100,000 annually—with 23% earning more than six figures.

Read more about salary distribution for proposal professionals

Salary Distribution | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

On the surface, it sounds like a good news story. But a closer look at demographics reveals a concerning trend. Women make up 71% of respondents, but are more likely to earn in the low-to-mid pay range. On the flip side, their male counterparts, who make up 23% of the survey, were more likely to earn in the mid to high pay band range.

Salary groupings - Read more about Salary in Trends Report

Salary Band Groups | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

Read more about gender demographics

Gender Identify | Source: 2022 RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks Report

Interestingly, 18% of respondents chose not to respond to the salary question, indicating that there’s some hesitancy to share salary in the proposal industry. But if everyone shares openly, the more people can know to ask for what they’re worth. Learn more about career and salary trends.

✓ Advice for 2022: Be open about sharing salaries to help mandate pay equity. The research shows that females tend to be paid less than males, and it’s a problem that every manager can begin to address, today. Create pay bands for each proposal role and level, and make sure they’re followed for hirings and promotions. This way, it’s less likely that bias or negotiation skills will impact people falling behind.

Watch 2022 Trends Webinar for more industry insights.

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