While the COVID-19 pandemic caused supply chain uncertainty and revenue instability for many companies this past year, not all industries suffered. The information technology, discretionary consumer, healthcare, and communication services industries all grew in 2020, according to The Financial Times. In fact, companies whose products were in demand during the pandemic saw an increase in requests for proposals—and the upward trend is continuing as organizations across all industries begin to settle into the “new normal.”
As we near the end of the first quarter of 2021, the prognosis is good. The IMF projects 5.1% growth in the U.S. this year, while economists at Goldman Sachs see even bluer skies, forecasting a 6.8% bump in the U.S. economy. As vaccines roll out and companies that struggled in 2020 start to regain their footing, talk about a post-COVID boom grows louder.
It’s Raining RFPs
What does this optimistic economic forecast mean for your sales and proposal teams? Buckle up! Even in the latter half of 2020, 45.7% of sales and proposal managers were reporting an increase in the number of proposals requested, according to the State of Proposal and RFP Management Report 2020/2021. Similarly, a Lexus Nexus USA survey of law firms last summer found that 42% reported an increase in RFP activity at their firm over the last 12 months. As the commerce machine starts to rev again, are you ready for the flood of RFPs that are heading your way?
As encouraging as a spike in RFPs coming through the door may seem, translating those RFPs into sales is another story entirely. In fact, a recent survey by BTI Consulting Group found that win rates at law firms started falling even though the number of RFPs increased. The typical firm has only won 26% of their RFPS since May 2020.
Similarly, according to a global survey of the IT, financial services, and education sectors, only 15.4% of firms are winning at least half of their bids, with the majority of companies experiencing disappointing win rates of less than 40%.
Turning RFPs into Revenue
Faced with more and more RFPs of increasing complexity as 2021 unfolds, it’s no surprise that sales and proposal leaders are feeling overwhelmed and unable to close the sale consistently. A lack of preparation, further complicated by the complex decision-making buying cycle, is compromising win rates across the board and causing companies to throw resources and money (fruitlessly) at the growing problem. Don’t fall into the trap!
Here are three tips to help you adeptly manage the influx of RFPs and convert your responses into revenue.
- Be picky
Just because an RFP drops into your inbox doesn’t mean you have to throw your hat in the ring. Many companies make the mistake of responding to every shiny opportunity without fully evaluating whether they’re the right fit. Be strategic about which RFPs you pursue by focusing on those opportunities in your sweet spot and you’ll be on your way to improving your strike rate.
Scoring incoming RFPs using a series of criteria (e.g., account value, competition, deadlines, opportunity costs) can help you determine your chances of winning and assess whether the opportunity is worth chasing. Similarly, a Go/No Go evaluation process using a decision matrix template can help you prioritize quality RFPs that align with both the client’s needs and your strengths.
Kick manual tasks to the curb
With more and more RFPs coming through the door in 2021, your organization needs to be able to shift gears and scale its volume of responses. And with so many people now working from home—a shift that’s likely not going away, even after COVID-19 is no longer a factor—companies need a seamless way to create content and collaborate with SMEs and other team members.
If you’re still using Google Docs, spreadsheets, or—heaven forbid— hard copy files to manage RFP responses, you’re in trouble. Consider the revenue you’re leaving on the table by relying on time-consuming, cumbersome, and fragmented processes that not only hinder your ability to respond quickly and effectively to opportunities but also reduce the amount of time you have for revenue-generating activities.
RFP management software automates the mind-numbing, monotonous tasks that bog down the response process, streamlining efforts with auto-fill capabilities, intuitive integrations, and up-to-date content libraries that help you produce personalized responses that close sales.
It’s not about you
Don’t let your RFP response be all about you! Instead of creating a response that reads like an advert for your product or technical solution, ask yourself some questions: What are your customer’s pain points? What obstacles are they trying to overcome? What business objectives are they trying to achieve?
Your job is to craft a compelling story that resonates with your customer and leads them to the conclusion that your offering is the best solution to their problem. By putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, you can customize and personalize the RFP response to speak directly to their requirements. Use your content library as a starting point, tweak the content based on individual customers, and you’ll be on your way to boosting win rates.
To learn how Qorus can help you accelerate your sales cycle and close more deals as RFPalooza hits the nation, see our RFP response software in action!