Picture this: your quota just doubled for the new year. You’ve got the same segments, industries, and titles to chase after. But you need a different strategy to lock down more dollars—and fast.
It’s time to work smarter (not harder). So how can you approach your targets differently? Focus on winning more revenue through Request for Proposals (RFPs).
What is an RFP response?
An RFP, or Request for Proposal, is one of the most important documents for winning big ticket clients. When choosing a vendor to work with, typically for larger contracts, companies will issue an RFP to compare price, scope, security, and overall fit to determine the best choice. Sellers must then submit a compelling RFP response to be selected as the winner.
According to new data in Loopio’s 2021 RFP Response Benchmarks & Trends Report, which surveyed 650+ teams across North America, RFPs account for a whopping average of 35% of an organization’s annual sales revenue.
Based on the research collected, Loopio determined that top performers win more than 51% of their RFPs. But they’re also likely to submit a higher volume too (175 RFPs annually on average).
So how do these teams manage to submit a higher volume, while maintaining quality to win the majority of bids? Read on to learn the six data-backed behaviors top performers use to win more RFPs.
1. Take your time writing RFP responses.
Research shows top performers spend approximately 25 hours writing every RFP response (which is 2 hours more than the average team).
25 hours of writing may seem like a lot. But considering the average proposal is 115 questions long, that’s only 12 minutes per answer.
Results do vary when compared across company sizes: Enterprise companies spend the most time responding (27 hours average) while small and midsize companies spend the least (19 hours average).
Research also shows there’s a correlation between more writing time and a team’s odds of winning an RFP—probably because details like accurate compliance, security, and fact-checking are so important to winning a big contract. The extra due diligence literally pays off.
If you personally don’t have more time to invest in quality answers, there’s a ton of consultants that can help write instead, like Dragonfly Editorial, Strategic Proposals, and Weber Associates.
Or if you want to put in the extra work yourself, checkout some free resources on crafting better RFP responses.
2. Respond to more RFPs annually.
When it comes to RFPs, the volume of your submissions actually matters. But not for the reasons you may think.
Top performing teams respond to an average of 175 RFPs annually. While you might think that sheer volume is their winning edge, that’s not the whole story.
Research shows that organizations only respond to 65% of the RFPs they receive (seems that not all proposals are worth the 20+ hours of investment). So to reach this volume of bids, top performers have likely assessed 270+ RFPs in one year alone.
No matter how many RFPs you respond to, it’s all about quality over quantity. So while top performing teams do submit a higher volume of bids, it’s all about the work done to weed out the bad RFPs that gives them an edge, bringing us to the next point…
3. Assess customer fit through a go/no-go process.
There’s a major catch-22 with RFPs: it’s all about the work done before you start a proposal.
Loopio’s research shows that 72% of top performers use a go/no-go decision template to assess customer fit before beginning an RFP.
Responding to every bid isn’t feasible for some teams based on resources (nor does it mean you’d want to respond to each one). That’s why three-quarters of teams use this simple (and quick) strategy instead. The go/no-go process is built to determine which bids you should take on—and which ones you should leave behind.
Typical Go/No-Go Questions Include:
- Is there major competition for this contract?
- Do you have an existing relationship with this client?
- Is the resource cost worth the potential revenue gain?
4. Involve more contributors to improve proposal quality.
Research shows involving more stakeholders in an RFP is actually better: Top performers include an average of 10 contributors in every proposal.
If you think that sounds like a lot of people, here are a couple questions to consider:
- Does legal typically write your compliance content?
- Does security answer the InfoSec questions?
- Does your VP inform your RFP’s mission statement?
Most teams involve these stakeholders as a minimum. If you’re struggling to get support from these key players, consider how you can get creative with your approach.
Three Steps to Get RFP Contributors on Board:
- Start with a kickoff meeting involving all stakeholders. Use this time to walk through the project and get everyone on the same page about responsibilities and timing.
- Take a first pass at answering questions yourself, then send to your contributors for a quick review. They’ll likely appreciate the effort.
- Once they’ve reviewed and approved the RFP content, be sure to save your answers to re-use for future RFPs. They may need to be edited slightly, but this will save your future self a lot of time.
5. Track non-traditional RFP metrics (both quantitative and qualitative).
91% of top teams track metrics for RFP success. The most common metrics tracked (in descending order of popularly) are:
- New RFP revenue
- The number of bids won
- Customer revenue retained through RFPs
- The number of bids submitted
Interestingly, the research shows performers go beyond simply tracking win rate or revenue.
Best-in-class teams tend to track non-revenue related metrics too, like response speed, individual team member performance, and team sentiment. This indicates that a focus on process metrics and people performance can give organizations an edge that helps them win.
Top teams know how long it takes to complete an average RFP (25+ hours or writing) and use this metric to balance their workload. Your team can build stronger commitments to internal customers if you understand the amount of work required to reach your goals.
6. Use dedicated RFP response software.
Ever wondered what’s in the tech stack of a top performer? According to research: 69% of top teams use a dedicated RFP response software.
RFP software is a digital platform that automates the response process (typically used for RFPs, RFIs and other questionnaires). It stores and organizes information most commonly used in a company’s responses and can automatically fill answers based on past proposals.
Data from 650+ RFP teams shows that teams with response software are more likely to have:
- Improved RFP content storage
- 10% higher RFP submission volume
- Higher satisfaction with their RFP quality
- More manageable stress levels (which also ties to higher win rates)
Plus, teams with software adoption are also more likely to say they have the right resources under their belt and typically feel more recognized for their work.
To bring your proposal process into the modern age, check out this list of RFP management tools to consider.