Why Collaborating Helps You Win More RFPs

In March, Mimeo was excited to sponsor Mastering Client Services and RFPs for Institutional Investors.

In this 2-day conference, proposal professionals from 50+ financial services companies discussed their processes for winning more deals.

Many of the takeaways ring true no matter what industry you’re in. One theme that came up again and again was the importance of collaborating.

Winning proposal teams know they need to collaborate with each other, subject matter experts, and sales.

Here are the panelists’ tips for increasing collaboration for your proposal team:

Collaborating with Your RFP Team

Whether you’re a team of two or ten, panelists recommend you leverage each other for ideas and feedback.

At the basic level, panelists on the Pre-Conference Workshop recommend creating an audit trail on all changes to the proposal. This way, you can always refer to see who made updates, especially on sensitive topics such as pricing or unusual service agreements.

Robin Spencer of ManuLife Asset Management suggests kickoff meetings to clarify who is writing each part of the RFP. She goes so far as to have colored highlighters assigned to each team.  

Melanie Murray’s team at Baillie Gifford make peer review part of their timeline. That way, there is always time for a fellow proposal writer to read through and mark up a response to RFP.

She also hosts standing meetings where team members share highlights and lowlights from recent proposals. From these meetings, they learn from each other about everything from crafting the response to working with internal SMEs.

No matter the size of your team, the more you can lean on each other for feedback and support, the better your proposal responses will be.

Collaborating with Your Subject Matter Experts

Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are crucial to your proposal responses. They chime in on everything from pricing, to service agreements, to explanations on specific questions asked by your prospect.

Yet panelists at Mastering RFPs agreed that SMEs are often the trickiest part of the proposal process. Writing responses simply aren’t your SME’s priority. That often leads to missed deadlines or less-than-perfect answers.

Melanie Murray (Baillie Gifford) recommends clear communication to SMEs about why their section is important, the due date you are setting for them, and your final due date. You may want to ask if they prefer email, phone, or in-person communication. Melanie has also had success setting calendar reminders for some SMEs, though she noted not everyone appreciates that tactic.

If there is a relatively long deadline, she also recommends checking in via email or meeting to make sure the response hasn’t slipped off their radar.

Panelists also highlighted the importance of building long-term relationships with your SMEs. Don’t limit your conversation to proposals. Find ways to do them favors in return or even take them out to coffee to get to know them. It will go a long way towards your working relationship.


Collaborating with Your Sales Partners

Your sales partner can be your best and worst friend. Since sales owns the prospect relationship, they have the most knowledge on how to win the RFP.

Yet at the same time, their focus is on generating new deals. They might not always respect the process that it takes to produce a winning response.

Your first task in collaborating with sales is to communicate clearly about expectations, obstacles, and timelines. Melanie Murray (Baillie Gifford) recommends reviewing the full request and highlighting any red flags. If you don’t think you can execute the proposal on the timeline requested, you should raise this as an issue and explore a compromise.

Ask clarification questions to make sure you answer questions the way they were intended. Be clear about your time constraints so sales understand how long your process takes (and to avoid being given a false deadline).

Panelists also recommended that you join in on the sales pitch dry runs, where applicable. You will better understand how sales intends to tell the story, ensuring the proposal response reflects that.

Finally, no matter how great a proposal writer you are, you will end up losing a deal. Ask sales for feedback on why a deal was lost so you know how to improve your responses in the future.

Just like your SMEs, sales are important partners to your success. Create a relationship outside of the pressure-cooker of a response deadline, so that you can collaborate more effectively.


Collaborating = Winning

When it comes to winning a major deal, it takes a village. Whether you are the only proposal writer at your company or one of many, collaboration is key to winning more deals.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you increase collaboration. For example, Mimeo makes it easy for the whole team to review your proposal as it will look when printed, before sending it off to print.

Find out more with this 1-minute video:


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