10 Ways to Increase Your RFP Responses in a Difficult Market
If only there were more than 24 hours in a day. If you’ve gone through the RFP process before, you probably know the feeling. Developing RFP proposals to grow your business takes time, effort and lots of patience. With all the other business responsibilities you’re juggling, it can be hard to imagine submitting more responses than you already do. This is likely the case especially if you haven’t found much success in RFPs. But, with a little organization and time management (and maybe some help along the way), increasing your RFP responses and growing your business isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are our best tips for increasing your RFP productivity and win rate.
1. Expand Your Search Through New RFP Sources
If you usually search the same RFP database to find opportunities, consider giving other sources a try to grow your business. Databases are more user-friendly and successful in filtering relevant bids; however, don’t limit yourself by searching only databases. On sites like LinkedIn, you can search relevant hashtags like #requestforproposal to find bids. Bids posted on social media sites typically have less reach than those posted on databases, so you may have a higher chance of winning the bid based on the simple fact that the competitor pool is smaller.
2. Organize Your RFP Process
The part of the RFP that typically takes the longest is getting the relevant answers you need from SMEs. Collecting information takes time and effective communication. As such, we suggest creating a spreadsheet for the project. This helps you keep track of deadlines and content that still needs to be written or inputted for your RFP responses. It’s also an unbiased way to let Diane know that her information (according to the spreadsheet) should have been completed yesterday! When your process is organized and accountable, you won’t let important deadlines slip or risk submitting an incomplete response.
3. Ensure Your RFP Isn’t “Sole Ownership”
An RFP is complex enough with multiple staff supporting you, let alone trying to do the whole process yourself. Review the RFP ahead of time to determine how many employees you’ll need to dedicate to the project. If you try to cast all responsibilities on one person, you’ll end up stressed, overwhelmed and dangerously short on time. RFPs are best completed as a team effort!
4. Designate Roles and Responsibilities
Completing the RFP process when you don’t have a plan can sometimes feel like one of those dreaded group projects you had in college. Everybody knows the project due date is approaching, but no one knows what to do or who should do what. To avoid this time-consuming pitfall, delegate responsibilities to your employees as soon as you receive the RFP. The end result is both better-quality RFP responses and happier employees.
5. Reuse Past Content
Reduce, reuse, recycle! That goes for RFPs, too. Once you complete a bid, keep your resources and information stored in a place that’s easily accessible like a shared drive. There’s almost always previous information that you can repurpose for a future RFP. If you already have great content written about your company’s background and values, why create extra work for yourself? By the time you’ve submitted a few, you’ll likely have enough information to write most of a new RFP without having to develop much content from scratch.
6. Invest in RFP Tools
Using RFP tools to grow your business is always a smart idea. Invest in a quality communication platform and design software for your team. It doesn’t need to be expensive, it just needs to expedite some part of your process! However, avoid relying completely on RFP tools to do the job. You don’t want your proposal to look like a robot wrote it. Don’t forget to add a human touch for the people on the other end evaluating your proposal.
7. Ensure Your Design Template Is RFP-Ready
Once you have your content down, the next step is preparing and tightening up your design template. Because most RFPs follow the same basic outline, there’s no need to develop a new template from scratch every time. Take a look at previous design templates to see which graphics and design elements you can repurpose. Also, be sure to save all your design templates in a secure place for future use. The more RFP responses you submit, the more likely you’ll have a relevant design template to use for your next bid.
8. Don’t Spread Resources Too Thin
RFP responses require solid time management skills. Don’t bite off more than you can chew when trying to grow your business. If you find that you’re responding to two (2) RFPs per month and struggling to meet the deadlines, consider giving yourself more time in between submissions. It’s better to turn in one strong, balanced proposal than two (2) rushed ones that may not be a strong representation of your offering or organization.
9. Clarify Submission Requirements
Depending on the RFP, you’ll have the option to submit your proposal by mail, electronically or both if the offeror is flexible. If you can, opt to send your RFP response electronically. Electronic submission is more time-efficient, requires fewer sources and costs less if you’re looking to increase the number of RFPs you respond to. The only downside of submitting online through a portal is the potential for technical issues, so be sure to start inputting your responses early on.
10. Outsource Your RFPs
Struggling with an RFP and feeling like there’s nowhere to turn for help is something that no firm should have to go through. The opportunity for new business should bring excitement, not anxiety! If you don’t have the resources to increase your RFP responses, consider outsourcing. You’ll be able to consistently submit quality responses while still having time to take care of your business responsibilities.
The Bid Lab helps companies like you win bids every day by providing project management, writing, design and quality assurance for RFP proposals. We even help match you with new RFP opportunities that suit your needs. To learn more about how we can help take the stress out of your RFP process, contact us today.