Originally published by Sales Initiative | 5/10/2017
by Lewis Miller
It is said that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to restore. In the world of business, more especially at a time of uncertainty post Brexit, companies only want to work with trustworthy vendors who can offer the best value and service available in the marketplace. So how can bid managers ensure they strike a relationship full of trust and confidence with a prospect?
RFP automation is a great enabler for bid managers that realise the importance of not only winning bids, but building relationships with buyers. This may not seem so easy in a business that is becoming increasingly dependent on technology and automation software, but it is entirely possible.
The answers lie in making the RFP process easier and more streamlined. If bid managers can identify the bids that they have the best chance of winning, this will weed out time wasters for the buyers. If a bid manager can better position themselves to quickly respond to complex RFPs with extremely targeted and relevant content from across their business, this will build the buyer’s trust and instil confidence that promises will be kept.
The following steps will help eliminate any uncertainty for bid managers yet to experience the value that adoption of automation software can add to the team and the wider business through influencing prospects and winning contracts with a smart, streamlined RFP response process.
Decide which prospects are worth your time, and if you are worth theirs
Making valuable use of your time is important when pulling together the best possible responses, and this should be measured from the outset. Determining the likelihood of winning each potential bid will ensure time is not misspent on the bids that you’re likely to lose and greater care can be taken in responding to the right RFPs.
The amount of time that bid managers spend on the RFP process can be vastly reduced by technology-driven RFP management innovations by up to 40%. When converted into hours and minutes, this equates to a huge increase in efficiency. Through quick and insightful data analysis, bid managers can quickly determine which bids they’re most likely to win, increasing win-rates by almost a third and only engaging with potential buyers when there is true value in the offering.
Conform to the buyer’s style
When receiving bid documentation, procurement teams now rely largely on the data within the documentation to filter through bids and determine which ones best suit the business requirements. Bid managers can benefit from this practice by presenting bid documentation that is easy for procurement teams to process.
Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Information (RFI) documentation traditionally contained lists of questions required answering, however, any seasoned bid manager will have noticed the growing requirement to complete and submit a complex variety of documents detailing information covering various elements of the RFP such as pricing, compliance, and security.
Though seemingly complex upon first impression, these documents are usually consistently uniform across the industry and will typically contain the same questions. It’s not uncommon for bid managers to receive requests for certain documents, such as security questionnaires, on an annual basis, even after business relationships have been formed. When done properly, this transforms a time-consuming task into a regular opportunity to reinforce your position as a reliable and trusted supplier. How is it done? Using more intelligent feature and function sets, these systems automatically recognise document types, understand the questions within them and predict the information required. This is achieved through smart search capabilities that increase the output of responses to RFPs, enabling teams to update old information in an agile, aligned and compliant manner.
This is a gift to bid managers, considering RFP teams generally operate under great pressure with tight deadlines looming over their heads. Yet through automation, systems can complete these documents automatically, answering hundreds of questions within mere minutes. Whether it’s the first touch-point or an established partner, delivering on requests in this way cements your relationship with confidence.
Context is king
‘Content is king’, so the mantra goes, but in this industry the context of the content is incredibly important, and data resources must be pooled to provide that context. The data that resides on various platforms such as pricing, ERP and CRM systems is the most valuable resource when it comes to providing context in terms of what kind of deal the bid manager should actually be putting their efforts into winning. The various systems that store these contextual data points must be digitally connected so that teams are able to amalgamate the data points and analyse them in order to define the most effective RFP responses.
Ensuring that content being placed into RFPs is actually relative to buyer requirements will no doubt increase the chances of outperforming the competition. Analysing the flow of data between systems provides highly valuable insights, enabling teams to understand the factors that dictate whether a RFP has been a success or a failure, and guiding teams in how to shape a winning RFP in the context of each new opportunity.
Adopting automation software will enable bid managers and bid managers to truly deliver the unexpected and build up a lasting impression on buying teams, securing trust and building fruitful relationships. At Qvidian, these aspects of automation are some of our key focus points when it comes to helping our bid managers achieve great results through adding value to relationships, achieving a higher regard from new, existing and potential clients, and ultimately increasing win rates.