10 RFP Facts That Will Help You Win More Bids
When you think of an RFP, it’s not wrong to think of completing what seems to be an endless document full of questions. It’s easy to forget that so much research, insight and careful strategy goes into developing a proposal. RFP writers are always finding innovative ways to inform their process by incorporating new trends emerging from current events and technology. But how do you cut through the clutter and millions of articles online to find out what companies are really looking for in a strong proposal? Well, close those 10 open tabs and keep reading, because The Bid Lab has the scoop! Here are 10 helpful facts to help you win more bids.
1. Companies respond to an average of 150 RFPs per year.
As a small or medium-sized business, could you even imagine finding the time to submit 150 RFPs? Of course not! To break it down, Loopio reported in their 2021 RFP Response Trend and Benchmarks Report (“Benchmarks Report”) that 38% of companies submit 51-250 RFPs, 39% submit 10-50 RFPs a year and 17% submit over 250. In our experience, there’s a direct correlation between the number of proposals businesses submit and the size of the organization.
If you’re a small business, it’s probably not realistic that you’ll submit over 100 responses per year. The point is, if companies are submitting this many responses, it’s clear that winning a bid isn’t a simple process. If it were, RFP volumes would arguably be much lower. Even for large corporations with extensive experience, they’re likely only winning a percentage of the 100 bids they submit. Set realistic goals for how many contracts you expect to win, and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen immediately.
2. A dedicated ownership process results in more RFP submissions.
Nothing stalls your process faster than uncertainty and confusion. Proposals can be challenging if your team members don’t understand their roles and deliverables. Dedicate a team to your bid early on and delegate responsibilities clearly. As a result, the writing, design and submission processes will go much more smoothly. This level of organization allows you to search and respond to more RFPs in a shorter period of time, and of course, win more bids.
3. Utilizing team collaboration platforms can increase your response rate.
Collaboration is key when it comes to submitting compliant and timely proposals. Especially as businesses adjust to work-from-home platforms to run their daily business, your RFP response process should do the same. A 2021 survey completed by Gartner shows that there has been a 44% rise in workers’ use of collaboration tools since 2019. And, 70% of teams will rely on team communications tools by 2022! Leverage technology to coordinate needs from Subject Matter Experts, schedule and track deliverables, share final documents, track edit changes — and everything in between. By doing so, your team will work more efficiently, which in turn, will positively impact your response rate.
4. RFPs contribute to retaining customers.
Proposals do as much to retain customers as they do to bring in new ones. This gives us a bigger picture of just how essential RFPs are to revenue and how much of an impact they make on your bottom line. The Benchmarks Report found that one third of the average company’s proposals impact retention dollars rather than acquisition of new business. Especially in larger corporations, procurement departments dedicate more resources towards maintaining existing contracts. As part of your long-term RFP strategy plan, set goals to focus on building customer relationships and scaling brand lines towards your customer’s purchasing needs.
5. The majority of RFPs are completed with a team of five (5) or more.
Saying that completing a bid is a long and complex process is certainly an understatement. Companies tend to lowball the workload requirements when they’re trying to win more bids. Consequently, proposals requiring hundreds of responses end up in the hands of one (1) or two (2) people within an organization. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to an overwhelming workload that’s difficult, or impossible, to complete on time.
Larger proposal teams result in better quality proposals. For example, the more eyes you have on an RFP, the more likely it is that your team catches a small mistake or omission that could disqualify you. That said, there’s also such a thing as having too many cooks in the kitchen when working on an RFP. Team members should be able to own their parts of the project without worrying about someone coming along and negating their work. Ensure that you’re taking an in-depth look at the requirements and assigning the appropriate number of team members to the project.
6. The average submission timeline is impacted by industry.
There is no set submission timeline for a bid — it largely depends on the industry you’re in. However, some have faster turnaround times than others. Industries that tend to turn around RFP responses the fastest are media and publishing (3.1 days), supply chain and logistics (3.3 days), and advertising and PR (4.7 days). If you’re in telecommunications, your bid likely has the longest timeline, a whopping 29.8 days on average! These averages are based on overall complexities in the scopes of work involved. Furthermore, compliance requirements can affect turnaround times for bidders who work in the public sector as opposed to the private sector.
For example, if the US Navy posts an RFP to update the cybersecurity system across their entire fleet, IT developers may very well need to build a completely new, complex application from scratch to replace the existing one. The massive scale of a project such as this will require all hands on deck (pun intended!) to strategize meeting the needs of the Navy. So, turnaround times for submissions such as these are likely to be up to several months.
7. Most RFP evaluation committees consist of at least four (4) members.
During reviews, procurement teams will often break sections out between different teams who are most knowledgeable in that particular area. SMEs may review the technical scope or pricing requirements, while the firm’s general counsel will review other areas. You should prepare your proposals to speak to a variety of audiences.
Because there are oftentimes multiple drafters and reviewers, RFPs will ask similar, if not the same question(s) repeatedly throughout the document. It’s not uncommon for different sections of an RFP to be written by different departments within an organization. For this reason, when an RFP is feeling repetitive, always respond to each question as if it’s the first time responding to that answer. Procurement teams prefer to read answers that are thoughtful, not robotic.
8. RFP content management is a major concern for most.
Consider that 46% of companies find it difficult to locate the best and most accurate information to respond to a question. This goes to show just how important it is to periodically update and overhaul your content library. Developing an organized, well-maintained content library is imperative to increase your response rate and win more bids. Although there’s no end-all be-all RFP response template to utilize for every RFP, there are ways to save you and your team time. Keeping key personnel charts up-to-date, evaluating project outcomes via case studies or utilizing a “response database” to grab standard questions are all ways to help streamline your response process.
9. Be proactive in seeking RFPs to bid on.
The Benchmarks Report found that close to 25% of businesses believe they would benefit from being more proactive in finding RFPs to bid on. This isn’t always easy for small or medium-sized businesses who don’t have staff dedicated to this task. Finding an RFP takes time. Not only that, finding the right RFP takes even more time! Many businesses, especially those starting out, tend to immediately begin their response without taking the time to qualify it as a bid/no bid.
Consistently searching for RFPs will benefit your company as the sooner you find the bid, the sooner you can begin your response. The Benchmarks Report stated that companies who spent more than the average amount of time (more than 23 hours) responding to an RFP had a higher win rate. Start early and utilize the extra time towards perfecting your response.
10. RFP response training is key to winning more bids.
As your organization begins to prioritize RFPs as part of your business strategy, RFP response training should be near the top of the to-do list. A winning response not only includes writing, but project management, editing and design skills as well. The more your team hones in on those skills, the more you’ll find the entire process improves. This includes content storage organization, answer automation, collaboration across departments and SMEs, and project tracking just to name a few. So, what’s the outcome of providing more RFP response training? A decrease in total response time and an increase in total RFPs submissions.
There you have it, ten (10) facts to help inform your process and win more bids! We hope this valuable information helps you improve your RFP process for the better, and provides new strategies to implement this coming year. If you’re not sure how to transform these tips into improvements to your process, The Bid Lab can help! We see hundreds of bids every year and have expertise across most major industries. Contact us today to see how we can assist you in searching for, writing or submitting a bid!