2022 RFP Trends & Benchmarks
Chapter 4: Collaboration Challenges in the RFP Process
While response teams grew modestly this year, so did collaboration challenges. But more brains means more knowledge too, if you can harness it.
This year, the average RFP team size was eight people, up from last year’s seven. Nearly half (46%) of teams fall into the range of 5-15 team members, in comparison to approximately a third of teams (37%) falling into that range last year. This steady increase in team size is another indication that RFP teams are successfully gaining more resources.
Collaboration with SMEs #1 Challenge
The number one reported challenge this year was “collaborating with subject matter experts (SMEs) across your organization.” The chaos of hybrid work and high level of resignations have likely taken their toll.
The challenge of ‘finding answers’ has fallen from the number one spot last year, to number two spot this year. Along a similar trend, ‘choosing the best answers’ is also growing easier, likely due to more companies using content libraries in RFP software.
More Bids Run by RFP Managers
This year, more dedicated Proposal/RFP Teams became primary owners of the process—42%, up from 37% last year. That leap may explain the increasing professionalization and process maturity we’ve mentioned throughout this report, since proposal professionals bring a sense of true ownership to the RFP process.
This shift may be taking place because a sales-led process tends to correlate with lower win rates. Small & Midsize businesses were more likely than any other company size to have a sales-led proposal process (25%)—and out of all companies, they have the lowest wins.
Similarly, Manufacturing companies were the industry found most likely to have a sales-led proposal process—38% of them follow this path. Similarly, out of all industries, they were found to have the lowest win rates.
The increase of proposal teams owning the RFP process.
Small Companies Have Average Team Size of 5 People
Small & Midsize companies tend to have the smallest teams, as well as the lowest win rates. Although team size may impact their decreased chance of winning, it’s not the only contributing cause. Smaller companies are also less likely to have resources like RFP software or RFI software at their disposal. They also lack the name recognition of larger competitors.
Manageable Stress Levels = Faster Work and More Wins
Research in this report shows that teams under stress are not performing as well as their peers. They respond to 5% less RFPs, spend seven hours more per response, and win 6% more RFPs overall. Stressed teams are also more likely to have an ad-hoc process (no dedicated owner).
On the flip side, teams with manageable stress levels have a higher participation rate, spend less time on RFPs, and see higher win rates.
Stress among RFP teams has declined slightly since last year. This trend may be influenced by the increase in respondents gaining new resources in 2021. Over 2 in 5 (44%) of respondents claim that they gained new resources such as headcount, budget, or software in the past year.
The percentage of RFP teams who say their stress levels are manageable.
Public Sector Tends to Have Smallest Response Teams
Out of all industries, those in the public sector has the smallest average response teams at just five individuals. This probably reflects a general shortage of capital and resources in this industry, and its effects are apparent in their below average win rates.
Key Takeaways: How to Improve Collaboration Woes
Companies appear to have a new understanding that investing more in an RFP function will improve their odds of winning. More resources were provided to RFP teams in 2021—and as a whole, stress levels across the industry dropped slightly.
However, these wins are tempered by continuing remote collaboration issues, especially around getting timely responses from SMEs. Here’s how to manage collaboration challenges like a pro:
Put a proposal manager in charge: Teams with an RFP manager at the helm tend to have higher win rates, in comparison to when the process is led by sales.
Invite more contributors to your RFPs: More brains means greater access to more intelligence. The trick is harnessing those people’s wisdom productively, and that’s much easier to do when there’s a dedicated resource to play project manager.
Make effort to save your SMEs time: SME trust is easily broken, and if they find their time was poorly spent, their suggestions weren’t heeded, or the process felt chaotic, they’re less likely to participate. Forewarn them of what’s coming and be very clear with what’s required by when. RFP response software can help reduce their burden by recycling winning questions and reminding them of deadlines.
Senior Manager, Proposals
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