3 Ways to Improve RFP Response When Your Whole Team Is Remote

Author: 
Angela Earl

Everyone is apart. Companies in every industry, of every size, are completely remote. But in the wake of these sudden changes, the strongest among us are thriving. Many RFP response teams are innovating. They are creating new ways to keep collaboration going between team members.

In a recent article, McKinsey reported that employees who spend less time traveling or commuting are likely to be happier, more motivated and ready to mobilize in extreme situations. We were curious to know how that has held up when remote work was mandated rather than optional.

We spoke to several newly remote RFP response teams to get their perspective. These teams have broken their dependence on face-to-face interaction, and continued to craft winning RFP responses, without missing a step. Based on what we heard, here are three ways your team can flourish across regions, time zones and even languages.

Break complex RFPs into manageable sections.

65% of proposal managers are trying to increase efficiency through process improvement, according to the 2019 RFPIO Responder Survey. The most efficient teams break RFPs into smaller projects and individual tasks. Deadlines guide project stages and collaboration centers around milestones.

Agile is a well-known approach that uses incremental, iterative work sequences to boost motivation and productivity. The approach is adopted by teams seeking agility, flexibility and adaptability. It is commonly used for complex RFP responses but makes even more sense when teams are remote.

Establish a cadence for each phase of the project and regularly check on progress. These iterations allow you to overcome obstacles that could otherwise derail a project.

Another benefit of project milestones is being able to track progress along the way. At first this may feel awkward because you’re asking teammates to change habits. But if teams are dedicated to the process, productivity can increase significantly.

Tech-Tip: Using RFP Automation tools like RFPIO, teams are able to deliver their best response, quickly. Smaller projects or milestones can be assigned to individual contributors or teams. Collaboration takes place around expertise and availability, improving the response quality and speed.

Establish a single source of content for your response.

A central repository for content benefits the entire organization. With everything in one place, content is findable and referenceable. Consistency improves and time is no longer wasted searching or recreating.

Rather than asking and answering the same questions, teams can find the answers they need. Without reinventing the wheel or asking others, they can lean on this source and know they are leveraging the most powerful content. Tracking down information independently is more challenging when face-to-face interactions are limited, and especially when they are eliminated.

The best part is that with every response this type of knowledge base gets stronger. With every new question or response, it gets even more valuable.

Tech-Tip: Integrate RFP automation with your company's communication tools. By connecting systems like Microsoft Teams or Slack, teams can access approved content in familiar ways. The leading RFP response management platforms enable bi-directional connections. With these features teams can capture content shared on the fly.

Evaluate RFP opportunities based on past wins.

It’s important to set realistic expectations. A simple win/loss analysis of your past RFP responses, can help you choose projects you can win.

87% of companies say that their market has become more competitive in the last three years, according to the 2019 State of Competitive Intelligence Report.

In light of recent changes to work environments, productivity and responsiveness are constrained.  With this in mind, it's worth the time to review projects and assess each response opportunity with a critical eye.

Authors Jon Williams and BJ Lownie are known best for The Qualification Mantra. In their book, “Proposal Essentials: Win more, win more easily,” they outline four questions to qualify opportunities.

  • Is it real? 
  • Do we want it? 
  • Can we win it? 
  • Can we do it? 

These questions help teams quickly disqualify opportunities that won't ever materialize. On the other hand, if the opportunity is with a coveted account, teams may want to prioritize time and resources to the project. By asking these questions up front, teams are able to consolidate effort and achieve higher win rates.

Tech-Tip: Ensure your CRM and RFP automation share data. Best-in-class solutions make win rate reporting simple. Equip your team with the ability to make data-driven decisions and win more deals.

Final Thoughts

The most efficient teams invest in their processes. Aligned with the right technology, these teams work productively, from anywhere.

Leveraging proven agile methods, complex projects become manageable and prevent teams from overwhelm. Similarly, centralized content eliminates repeat work and help teams use their best content. Content that can be captured, and utilized, where your teams are working with properly integrated technology. Let data guide your way, using past success to choose winning response opportunities.

Trends toward the digital and virtual have accelerated. Organizations with strong systems and workflows will guide the future, and of RFP responses as we know it.

Angela Earl is vice president of global marketing at RFPIO, a cloud-based software that enables companies to streamline their proposal response process.