The Changing Perception of the RFP Manager (and why it’s required!) – Recap from LIMRA RFP Round Table

 

Posted By Qvidian | Oct 17, 2013

 

Last week, I joined Qvidian Account Executive Mike Cioce to meet with members of the LIMRA RFP Round Table to discuss the latest and greatest in the proposal automation world affecting the insurance and financial services industry. It was a very open conversation with sharing best practices, current trends, and the business impact of being an RFP Manager.

A common thread that came up was shifting the role of the RFP Manager. RFP Managers are integral to the selling process but often times aren’t even an official member of sales organization! The disconnect between proposal and sales teams can have a profound effect on revenue performance. Left to simply fulfill the RFP requests, many of today’s proposal and RFP Managers are struggling to keep up with the demands.

Shifting the perception

While this meeting was specific to the Insurance & Financial Services industry, this problem is not. We work with companies across verticals and see this same theme – undervaluing of the RFP function. There are tactics to help shift the role of an RFP Manager – here are just a few:

Know your selling process: Assuming we look at four basic stages of a selling process (Qualify, Differentiate, Validate, Close), it can be a common misnomer that RFP groups only enter in Act III during the Validation Stage. That couldn’t be further from it! Proposal teams can play a powerful role across the process, leveraging their knowledge and content to help create the initial proposal, framing the business need, and tailor the message throughout the sales cycle.

Refining and Improving: An often missed step of the selling process is an RFP de-brief. If you aren’t able to gather feedback on the RFPs, how will you know if they need to improve, include more or less content, additional tailored information, etc.

Be able to say no: If everyone knows that a deal is highly unlikely to be won, voice your opinion. Many RFP groups aren’t adequately resourced making it difficult to dedicate time to those deals that just can’t be won. This comes back to the alignment with the sales organization. If the sales team does not have a relationship with the client they can’t uncover their true needs and expected outcomes. If this information is unknown it is nearly impossible to write a persuasive proposal.

What does the data say? Are you in lockstep with the business impact of proposals? If not, you need to be. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the total value of the RFP responses or proposals created?
  • What is the average win rate?
  • How often are you asked to work on an RFP or proposal you just know you can’t win?
  • If you could use that time to work on projects more likely to win, how would that impact sales?

Understanding the value of these activities and how that has impacted the bottom line will help you better understand (and prove) how critical your role is to the selling process. It’s not uncommon for the proposal function to influence hundreds of millions (or even billions) of dollars of business annually, yet they are not given the tools and resources to allow them to be more efficient and effective.

The bottom line for most (if not all) organizations is to win more business. It is time to shift perceptions and ensure RFP teams are seen as strategic part of the business. They should partner with sales (earlier in the selling process) and show their impact on the bottom line.