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How to Radically Accelerate RFPs with AI & NLP

Artificial intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) are being used to improve every aspect of our lives—from personalized music recommendations and online customer service chatbots to smart thermostats in our homes—and RFPs are no exception. AI can automatically detect, pull answers, and fill out RFP responses, radically accelerating the speed at which your sales and bid teams respond to an RFP (up to 70% time savings!).

Plus, recent breakthroughs in Generative AI (GenAI)—think ChatGPT and its ability to generate human-like responses and create content, for example—will further transform the sales response process to save time and effort. (Read more on this below.) 

To discover how your organization can leverage the power of AI to craft higher-performing RFP responses, we picked the brain of RFP expert Olivia Hardy. Olivia is the founder of Catalytique Consulting, a consulting and creative agency specializing in proposal writing for B2B software companies.


NLP: Talking to the machine

Microsoft’s Cognitive Services website offers a simple definition for NLP, describing it as adding a natural conversation layer over your data; NLP is about the interaction between human and machine. By programming machines to be able to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data, the machine can begin to understand and interpret the conversational language of humans.  

The ability of machines to extract information, understand the contextual nuances in the language we use, and organize and categorize that data so that information can be retrieved when we ask the same question in a different way, opens up a whole new world of possibilities.    

For bid and sales teams who get asked the same question 20 different ways in each new RFP, NLP means the end to constant repetition and grunt work—and the ability to get to draft within minutes, or even a few seconds. QorusDocs has capitalized on the tremendous capacity of NLP to radically accelerate your RFP process using our powerful AI-enabled Auto Answer.


Auto Answer to the rescue

QorusDocs Auto Answer is here to save the day for bid and sales teams. Who on your team isn’t tired of answering the same RFP questions over and over and over? By removing the manual steps typically required to answer RFP queries, Auto Answer can save you hours of tedious and unnecessary effort.  

How does Auto Answer work its magic? QorusDocs uses AI and NLP to analyze questions and automatically search your Q&A content. Auto Answer pre-populates questionnaires with the highest matching answers to limit the amount of manual searching required, while simultaneously suggesting several alternative matching results.   

Auto Answer is smart. The software accommodates the different ways the same question may be asked and it gets smarter with each use, suggesting content with a higher win rate to create an optimized response every time.

How much time does Auto Answer really save?

The time savings you can expect from Auto Answer are undeniably compelling and translate to meaningful financial savings. Let’s take a look at a real-world example involving Olivia’s team. The Catalytique team responds to RFPs of all sizes but, on average, a typical RFP has 200 questions.   

The team has three options to get to draft on an RFP: 

  1. Auto Answer.
  2. For new questions never encountered before, they look for the answer manually. Sometimes the bid team has to search further afield in places that are not part of the usual content repository, such as policy and compliance documents on the company intranet.
  3. If they still can’t find the answer, the question is sent to an SME to write up a response.

How does this translate to time spent and time saved?

  1. With Auto Answer, the team gets a draft answer to a question in under 0.5 seconds or faster. They were able to get to draft on a 90-question RFI within 15 seconds!  
  2. With a manual search, it can take upwards of five minutes to find an answer.   
  3. If the query needs to be sent to an expert, the SME might spend about 15 minutes writing the response to a single question.

The before and after

Before Auto Answer, the Catalytique team had a reasonable content repository where they could find about 80% of the answers manually; the remaining 20% were shipped off to SMEs. For a 200-question RFP, the process would take them just over 23 hours to get to draft.    

Then the team implemented Auto Answer.    

When they started, they didn’t have a big set of Q&A content to draw upon. Accordingly, for the first RFP, the team was able to get to draft on about 45% of the questionnaire; 35% of the questions were searched manually and 20% of the questions were sent to SMEs.  

But instead of taking 23 hours, they got to draft in just under 16 hours on their very first RFP using Auto Answer. They saved approximately seven and a half hours—a 32% time savings! After completing a few more RFPs, Catalytique leveraged QorusDocs Auto Answer to improve its Q&A content and trained the software to better recognize similar questions.    

After its first five RFPs, the team was able to get to draft with Auto Answer on about 80% of the questions, leaving 10% of questions for manual search. While they still had to send a few questions to SMEs, they were able to cut that amount in half (from 20% to 10%) because they got better at adding knowledge contributed by their SMEs after each RFP with Auto Answer.   

The result? An RFP process that used to take the Catalytique team more than 23 hours, now takes less than 7 hours. This incredible efficiency advantage represents a time savings of over 70%. And as the team continues to use Auto Answer, they’ll be able to further reduce manual searching and the requests for experts to write content from scratch—and the time savings will increase.    

In addition to the time savings, Catalytique reported an improvement in the quality of its responses. Auto Answer continually updates and fine-tunes the content to ensure the team is automatically using the best and latest content for RFPs. They now have a lot more time available to shape proposals and better position themselves to win.    

The transformation Catalytique experienced is a testament to the power of AI and NLP to radically change the way today’s companies work, accelerating the RFP process and creating higher-performing responses that translate to the balance sheet. With QorusDocs on your side, your organization can reap the rewards of AI-powered proposal management software too.  

To review, here’s a summary of the advantages your organization can realize by using QorusDocs Auto Answer to accelerate your RFP response process: 

  • Get a pre-filled draft in seconds using AI  

  • Keep your content libraries fresh and up-to-date with the latest and best answers

  • Train your machine so it keeps getting better over time

  • Make full use of QorusDocs Smart Template features

The ChatGPT evolution of AI  

Moving forward, AI is poised to transform the RFP process even further with the implementation of Generative AI and GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) to create greater efficiencies and feature enhancements. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the explosive growth of ChatGPT and its ability to create content based on user input. The popular AI chatbot is built on GPT, an AI language model that is used to answer questions, translate languages, generate text for chatbots, and create computer code.  

At QorusDocs, we’re actively conducting research and development on GenAI, embracing the potential of GPT to improve the accuracy of question-answering and further reduce content management overhead for proposal teams. Our enhanced Auto Answer feature will save even more time and resources by automating the answering of frequently asked questions. 

In addition to enhancing our Auto Answer capabilities, we’re excited about the native experiences being delivered by Microsoft in the MS Office toolset. Microsoft recently announced Microsoft 365 Copilot which will bring GenAI directly into MS Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Excel. Given QorusDocs’ deep integration into MS Office, these enhancements will make the jobs of bid and proposal teams even easier.   

Is your organization using the AI and NLP capabilities of QorusDocs Auto Answer to create personalized RFPs at lightning speed? If not, check out the replay of Olivia’s webinar to learn practical steps your sales and bid teams can take to put AI and NLP to work for you to create winning RFP responses—up to five times faster!  

Published by Jennifer Tomlinson May 23, 2023
Jennifer Tomlinson