RFP Response Trends & Benchmarks
Response teams have taken a professional leap forward. Yet, only select companies have higher win rates. In this annual report, learn what top performers do differently to win.
We surveyed 811 people involved in responding to RFPs at organizations across North America. And despite this year’s peaks and valleys, 41% of companies are winning more than half of the RFPs they bid on.
So throughout this year’s annual industry report, we highlight what best-in-class teams do differently to drive success (and what you can do, too).
This report answers several big questions for our industry: How much revenue do proposal teams really influence? Does team satisfaction impact win rates? And what industry-wide trends will impact your team in 2022? Plus, there’s a new section, specifically focused on career growth and salary opportunities for proposal professionals.
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Who We Surveyed
All participants are either involved directly in the response process, or indirectly through managing an RFP response team.
At a Glance: Top Trends for 2022
Companies are investing more in RFP operations—and response functions are maturing as a result.
Almost half of companies (44%) gained new RFP resources this year. This led to an increase in dedicated proposal individuals or teams managing the response process: 42%—up from 37% last year. It is also likely the reason that more companies are using a go/no-go process this year. (Read more about this trend in Chapter 1: Volume and Submissions.)
The top reason for losing bids shifts from price to competitors.
This year, the top reported reason for losing was due to ‘a competitor/incumbent’ (versus last year, which was price). There’s a few reasons behind this shift. First, buyers are less price-sensitive than they were in 2020. And second, teams may be conducting more realistic analysis, thanks to the rise of win-loss tools. (Read more about this trend in Chapter 2: Revenue and Metrics.)
Writing time remains steady: 24 hours average per bid.
The average time spent writing a response remains relatively steady: around 24 dedicated hours for each bid. Teams seem to recognize the important role that quality plays in winning a response, but the reality is, they’re still battling extremely short timelines. (Read more in Chapter 3: Writing and Content.)
The top response challenge was internal collaboration.
Last year, the top RFP response process challenge was finding up-to-date answers. This year, getting timely responses from their internal subject matter experts (SMEs) became the biggest issue. It could be that the effects of more remote/hybrid work environments are still wreaking havoc on team coordination, but either way, there are engagement tactics that can help RFP teams overcome this hurdle. (Read more about this trend in Chapter 4: Process and Collaboration.)
Software improves win rates, satisfaction, and stress.
Teams with a dedicated RFP or RFI software have higher win rates—45% versus 41%. They are also twice as likely to say they’re reporting on RFP metrics. But perhaps the most interesting trend: software users also report having lower stress levels. 68% of teams that use a dedicated RFP response software say their stress levels at work are almost always manageable, versus 54% of non-users. (Read more in Chapter 5: Tools and Software.)
Proposal people are satisfied with their roles—but serious equity challenges plague the industry.
Eighty-one percent of RFP respondents say they plan to stay in this career because they enjoy the work and see excellent job prospects. But there are also troubling signs that the industry is not as diverse as it could be, nor as equitable. Women make up 71% of proposal professionals, but they’re much more likely to be in the mid-to-low pay bands compared to their males counterparts. (Read more in Chapter 6: Salary and Career.)
With targets rising, timely SME responses may offer a competitive advantage.
Fifty-seven percent of companies plan on increasing their RFP targets this year, representing a 10% increase over 2020. To get ahead, responders believe that the best way to win more in 2022 is through faster responses from SMEs. That’s why they’re planning on investing more in team training, hiring, and technology, in that order. (Read more about this trend in Chapter 7: Resource Predictions.)
Habits of Top-Performers
Despite RFP volume and win rates dropping on average this year, select companies are leading the pack for revenue-earned and win rates. Below are the habits of top performers—those who win more than 50% of their bids.
|Habit||Top Performers vs. The Average|
|Submit more RFPs||155 RFPs annually versus the average of 137|
|Involve more contributors||10 contributors versus average of 9|
|Spend more hours writing||26 hours versus average of 24|
|Be more selective about bids||82% use a Go/No-go process versus 76%|
|Use a dedicated response software||73% use an RFP software versus 68%|
Read on for more performance benchmarks and insights from this year’s report.
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