RFPs are time-sensitive. They can be complicated. And they often require input from stakeholders across the organization. But even still… responding to RFPs doesn’t have to be a fire drill every time. All you need is the right process. To get you started, I’ve written a comprehensive guide for creating a great RFP response process, compiling everything I know about RFP response best practices into one place.

Look at the many types of processes you have at your organization today. Seems like we have a process for everything, right? Especially when it comes to sales, having a defined strategy is necessary for our survival. Yet for some reason, we don’t take the time and give RFPs the same level of attention. And, we end up feeling pretty lost without that process. An RFP arrives, and we are stuck in this reactive cycle when we could be more proactive.

At RFPIO, we hear this story all the time from customers who come to us looking for guidance. Today we’re helping you build your RFP response process, based on what we’ve seen working for other RFP responders. Ready to be more proactive with your RFP response process? Follow these RFP process steps to build a collaborative workflow with your team.

What is an RFP response process?

An RFP response process is an efficient workflow which clarifies roles, responsibilities, and timelines to help an organization meet the issuer’s deadline. A great RFP response process is practiced by the entire team. RFP contributors come together to build the process, and they follow it consistently.

RFP Process and Steps

The process covers who the key RFP contributors are and how they will respond to each question on time, with the goal of winning new business. An RFP response process doesn’t work without great people backing that process. The most successful organizations collaborate throughout the RFP project under a clear set of guidelines. Which is why—if you haven’t yet—it’s time to sit down with your team and hash out your RFP process steps.

RFP process steps for efficient RFP responses

For starters…get the RFP process steps down on paper. You have plenty of one-sheets for everything else—now it’s time to develop a strategy that covers your organization’s unique RFP response process. During this exercise, you will cover the internal workflow needed to respond to an RFP. Here is an example of RFP process steps you can follow:

  1. RFP Issued – Review RFP requirements, then assemble your response management team and schedule a kick-off meeting.
  2. Ready Forms – Fill out required forms (i.e. NDA), get approvals and signatures from stakeholders, and attach to the RFP.
  3. Respond to RFP – Repurpose past responses and tailor content—assign questions/sections to SMEs to ensure accuracy.
  4. Review / Revise RFP – Conduct internal reviews to produce a high-quality deliverable, engaging Marketing for final content approval.
  5. Submit RFP – Deliver RFP with supporting materials—follow up to confirm receipt and send a status report to internal stakeholders.
  6. Save / Audit RFP Responses – Save finalized responses in a centralized location (i.e. answer library) and commit to regular content audits.

Collaboration is the theme of any successful RFP response process. Even if you have a proposal manager running the show, you’ll walk away with a better strategy by bringing in more diversity from your team. Instead of one proposal manager typing this one-sheet up in a corner, call a meeting and have a focused brainstorming session. Invite a mixture of sales, marketing, customer success, executives, and subject matter experts (SMEs) to contribute to the process.

Who is involved in the RFP response process?

Since an RFP in business represents a significant dollar value in revenue, RFP response should be approached with a collaborative strategy. Having the right team in place makes a huge difference. If you have a process laid out without clarifying these roles, confusion will follow and things will slip through the cracks.

Companies experience positive results when key individuals own RFP process steps. Responding to RFPs requires multiple people in different roles and departments who contribute diverse viewpoints and expertise.

High-performing RFPs typically includes expert contributions from SMEs, salespeople, finance, legal, and IT. RFP responses are then reviewed and polished by bid writers, proposal managers, and marketing team members. Finally, approval comes from executive stakeholders. The idea is to produce compelling RFP responses that beat your competition. It truly takes a village working together to respond to RFPs effectively.

Strengthen your RFP response process with RFP software

RFP software is a stand-alone solution that helps RFP responders dramatically improve the way they manage and process RFPs. Responding to RFPs takes time and resources. On average, we’ve seen responders cut their response time in half with RFPIO.

The happiest teams we know practice a consistent RFP response process and maximize RFPIO features. For example, assigning reviewers sequentially ensure the deliverable is polished with the highest quality responses for each section. A proposal manager simply assigns users within the solution, so the timing of each task is clear for everyone.

Try reviewing an RFP with thousands of questions by email. Yeah…it requires a ton of back-and-forth which takes extra time your team doesn’t have in the first place. You can certainly respond to RFPs without software, assuming you have a rock-solid approach that is humming along without inefficiencies. However, when you combine a strong process with RFP response software, progress will come.

Read more: That’s It: I’m Calling for the Abolishment of RFPs