Highlights from the QorusDocs 2021 Proposal Management Benchmark Study

Jennifer Tomlinson
Written by Jennifer Tomlinson / Nov 10, 2021

As Executive VP of Marketing, I work to identify business needs and help QorusDocs’ clients generate revenue more effectively and efficiently. I spearhead efforts to increase brand awareness through digital marketing and client engagement.

Our primary goal at QorusDocs is to help you navigate your RFx response process to produce better (and more revenue-generating) results. With this aim in mind, every year we dig deep into the proposal and RFP management data to glean some insights that you can put into action to help make your proposal management process as frictionless and expedient as possible—and give your sales revenue the bump it needs.  

Now that 2020’s pandemic-induced supply chain and market challenges are starting to ease up, companies are getting back to business—and that means RFPs and revenue are flowing again. In fact, our survey found that deal velocity and win rates are up 50% and 59%, respectively, this year! These figures are great news for companies from a revenue perspective, but higher volumes of RFPs mean new complications for proposal and sales teams.  

In the Not Your Average Benchmark Study, we took a look at the current B2B proposal and RFP landscape to see how the influx of RFPs are impacting bid and sales teams across multiple industries and a wide range of revenue levels (the majority of respondents were from the technology, professional services, and financial services industries).  

To offer you a view into the current state of affairs on the RFP response front, we examined factors such as: 

  • The number of requests companies received
  • How much time was spent responding to RFPs
  • Which individuals and departments were involved in the process
  • The financial and operational impact of automating the RFx process with proposal management software
  • Common perceptions and pain points around the existing process 

Let’s review the findings of this year’s benchmark study to help you get a handle on which challenges to be mindful of, opportunities for optimization, and the tangible benefits of automating your RFx process (aka how to make your proposal management process hum like a well-oiled machine). 

2021 Top 5 Research Highlights 

  1. RFP volumes are increasing 

The good news for companies moving forward is that RFPs are flowing again. Indeed, the majority of our survey respondents (64%) experienced an increase in RFPs, compared to 2020, with a median increase of 33% over last year’s volumes.

Companies currently working on more requests in 2021 saw a greater increase in RFP volume compared to last year. And organizations working on the largest number of requests—50+ responses per month—experienced the greatest increase: 56% more requests received in 2021 vs. 2020.  

Interestingly, those respondents using proposal management software were significantly more likely to report an increase, compared to those not using an automated solution (71% vs. 53%).

  1. Win rates are up 

With the volume of RFPs on the rise in 2021, how do win rates stack up? While there’s definitely some room for improvement in the win rate percentage (average annual win rate for new business was 45%; 66% for existing business), the good news is that 63% of companies saw an increase in win rates for new business, compared to 2020 results. 

When you look at the win rate data from a bottom line perspective, the average sales revenue attributed to winning RFPs from new business was 48%, with slightly higher percentage of revenue (52%) stemming from winning RFPs from existing business.  

Notably, proposal management software seemed to give companies an edge. Those respondents automating their response process with software reported a higher share of sales revenue attributed to new business than those without tech tools at their disposal. 

  1. The inability to respond is costly 

With the increased volume of RFPs landing in the laps of companies of all sizes across multiple industries, many bid and proposal teams are struggling to manage their RFx response process. Whether due to time constraints or other factors, overwhelmed organizations unable to respond to RFPs are missing out on sizeable revenue opportunities. 

The research found that a median of 20% of RFP requests are not completed, translating to a median annual lost revenue of $725,000—a hefty, and preventable, loss. In fact, those survey respondents unable to respond to requests reported lost annual revenue ranging from less than $100,000 to more than $10 million! (Our goal at QorusDocs is to make sure you don’t leave this kind of money on the table.) 

  1. Collaboration is critical 

In the world of proposal management, we know that collaborating with SMEs and other stakeholders is crucial to creating RFP responses swiftly and accurately—but putting collaborative processes into action can be a challenge for many organizations.  

The research found that, on average, 28 individuals within the organization—from Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) across disparate departments to dedicated proposal professionals and business development teams—are involved in responding to RFx requests. And without a way to collaborate seamlessly on responses, the process can devolve into a slow, complicated, and convoluted effort. (Hint: proposal management software is your secret weapon to combat this challenge.) 

  1. Technology makes all the difference 

Companies using proposal management software reported positive impacts across multiple metrics. Armed with automated technology, organizations increased their deal velocity and win rates, reduced the time spent creating responses, streamlined collaboration, and processed greater volumes of responses—all benefiting the bottom line. 
When comparing respondents who use proposal management software with those who don’t use tech tools to automate their response process, software users came out ahead on multiple factors: 

Additional Noteworthy Research Findings 

In addition to the five key takeaways discussed, several other findings in the research are worth noting: 

Sales proposals matter 

It’s important to note that the bid process is not restricted solely to responding to RFPs. For many organizations, sales proposals, pitches, and presentations play a crucial role in closing the deal. In fact, when working on a bid, survey respondents spent 33% of their time preparing sales proposals, pitches, and presentations. 

Content creation continues to be a pain point 

The goal of every proposal team is to create engaging, personalized content that resonates with the prospect and, ultimately, wins the business. However, the content creation challenge continues to plague proposal teams.

Creating content from scratch was the number one challenge cited by respondents when completing RFP responses. Our survey found that 46% of respondents are still developing content from scratch for each response, with two out of five respondents creating more than 50% of their content from scratch.  

(The trick to creating tailored, branded content quickly and easily lies in leveraging AI-powered software tools to automate the content development process. QorusDocs can help.) 


Final takeaway 

The 2021 QorusDocs benchmark survey measures the organizational impact of the RFP process, from win rates and missed revenue opportunities to proposal management challenges compromising the RFx response process. By delving into the challenges and opportunities faced by bid and business development teams across various industries, the research illustrates the value of a simplified, expedient, and automated RFP response process for closing deals and driving revenue.  

Check out the full QorusDocs Not Your Average Benchmark Study: RFP Statistics to Watch in 2022 to Boost Win Rates to gain a better understanding of the current RFP landscape and how you can refine your response process accordingly, for maximum revenue-generating potential.