As we head into the second quarter of 2023, with inflation and economic uncertainty on everyone’s minds, professional services firms are seeking that competitive edge to help them expand their client roster and build consistent revenue streams while keeping costs in check.
This year’s (our 7th annual!) QorusDocs benchmark research report offers relevant statistics and actionable insights to help professional services organizations manage high volumes of RFPs, create effective pitches and proposals, and strengthen client engagement to drive revenue.
Let’s take a look at three of the key takeaways from this year’s research:
The RFPs keep coming
Despite the economic, geopolitical, and business challenges of 2022, 26% of the professional services firms we surveyed experienced an increase in RFPs this year—a testament to the shift away from single sourcing towards the standardization of the RFP process for acquiring new business.
Not surprisingly, there was a noticeable decrease in RFPs in the professional services sector at the beginning of the pandemic, from January through March 2020. This dip was followed by a surge in RFP volume in 2021 as businesses required the immediate expertise of professional services organizations to transition workforces and IT infrastructure to the work-from-home model.
By 2022, most companies had put the technology infrastructure, systems, and processes in place to manage hybrid working patterns. Accordingly, the lower median increase in 2022 is reflected in the post-pandemic stabilization of demand for these specialist services.
Seamless collaboration is a non-negotiable
Efficient, seamless collaboration is the fabric of the professional services business development model. Due to the highly matrixed and hierarchical nature of professional services organizations, 20 people, on average, are involved in responding to RFx requests—and without a way to collaborate quickly and effectively, sales productivity and client engagement suffer.
Our research found that professional service firms rely on proposal management software to simplify collaboration (85% vs. survey average 68%) between business development/pitch teams and client services teams in order to meet deadlines consistently and effectively train new team members around processes.
Microsoft gets the love
Choosing which software application to use to create response documents directly impacts the productivity of a team’s response process and the quality of the documents produced. At the professional services organizations we surveyed, Microsoft Word was the fan favorite, with nearly half of the proposal and bid teams preferring to work in Microsoft Word to create proposals and RFx responses. In fact, 80% of respondents used Microsoft applications to complete requests: Microsoft Word (49%), Microsoft Excel (14%), and Microsoft PowerPoint (17%).
Bonus takeaway: Technology is the differentiator
Professional services firms reaped the rewards of proposal management software in 2022, reporting positive impacts across multiple metrics. Interestingly, they were more likely than tech companies to report that they produce high-quality responses (95% vs. 73%), respond to requests in a timely manner (97% vs. 70%), and find it easy to collaborate when working on RFx responses (85% vs. 68%).
It’s a fact: automation frees up proposal teams at professional services organizations to create a greater volume of pitches, capitalize on client feedback to strengthen existing client relationships and win repeat business, and produce higher-quality pitches with more attention to detail to win more client work and keep revenue flowing.
Get more insider stats to boost client engagement
To discover the other key takeaways and actionable benchmark data to help you boost performance and win more client business, check out the full 7th Annual Proposal Management Benchmark Study for Professional Services.
Pro tip: If you’re new to proposal management, you might enjoy our Pocket Guide to Proposal Management for Professional Services or visit our Professional Services Resources Hub to download everything you need to create winning responses, maximize billable hours, and maintain cash flow—even in the face of tight turnaround time and fierce competition.