Creating a Comprehensive RFP for an Enablement Vendor
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The process of creating a request for proposal, or RFP, to solicit bids from technology providers is something that those in a revenue organization will have to contend with no matter the industry. Whether an organization has a dedicated team to evaluate bids or takes a case-by-case approach, there is much to be gained from improving the submission form to encourage higher quality responses to more accurately assess how a vendor will meet an organization’s needs.
Particularly when searching for an enablement vendor, it’s important to gain a deep understanding of the capabilities, features, and support that different tools offer in order to evaluate those qualities as it relates to a company’s specific business goals and priorities. By inviting proposals in a consistent and thorough format, all members of the buying team can more easily assess how a vendor will meet their needs, reducing complexity in the purchasing process.
Developing an RFP template can help ease some confusion and ideally speed up the process of evaluating potential vendors. Below, sales enablement practitioners can discover the benefits of issuing an RFP and the four critical components of developing a comprehensive proposal form.
The Purpose of an RFP
The core benefits of issuing an RFP include increasing transparency and aligning on scope. In terms of transparency, RFPs ask specific questions related to an organization’s unique interests and needs. This not only encourages direct responses from vendors about the capabilities that they can and cannot support, it also can help vendors that are not the right fit quickly identify that and self-eliminate from the process, saving everyone involved time and effort.
Additionally, understanding the current scope of a company’s sales tech stack can help practitioners pinpoint the specific goals that they seek to achieve through a new enablement platform. Aligning on the key questions for vendors to respond to across the entire buying team can help provide clarity for stakeholders around what the platform is and is not intended to do for the company. In deciding whether an RFP is the right fit for an organization’s evaluation process, consider the questions below:
Would an RFP meet the current need of the initiative?
Deciding on a vendor to bring on can be a challenging and time-consuming project. Some organizations require that vendors meet specific criteria or policies. An RFP can be an effective tool in understanding the organization’s needs and how vendors will specifically tackle the unique issues or opportunities within the initiative.
Can an RFP help with alignment?
Another benefit of submitting an RFP is ensuring that teams cross-functionally and leadership have insight into the selection process of a vendor and align with the company’s current standards or general ways of doing business. It formalizes interactions that could breed favoritism or simply not have enough research backing it up.
“Base the criteria around the business challenges that you’re trying to solve,” said Kunal Pandya, senior director of global revenue enablement at UserZoom. “What are the KPIs that relate to those areas? That helps to boil it down to a company’s pure business requirements, and therefore the criteria you need. And that criteria may differ based on the type of solutions you’re assessing.”
Components of a Successful RFP
Outlining what an RFP will look like will be incredibly dependent on the goals and objectives of the team and the overall company. It’s worth noting that speaking to key stakeholders in the first discovery phase before even putting pen to paper can save a great deal of time and effort once alignment is achieved.
After understanding the goals, estimated budget, and timeline of the initiative, it’s time to draft the RFP. A comprehensive proposal will likely include the following:
Project Summary and Company Introduction
The summary will give vendors more information about the company and the purpose of the RFP. This may include the target market or audience, any relevant results the team is hoping to see, or timelines that the vendor should be made aware of.
Just as one would communicate with a customer, drafting this section of the RFP may also be an exercise in concisely and accurately representing the company and its vision. The project summary can succinctly signal to the vendor what they can expect from the project and help them better solve the challenges the organization is facing.
“In order for you to be able to deliver something specific to a customer, you need to understand absolutely the basics of your company’s message and how it might be applied to the customer,” said Ken Millard, senior global revenue enablement manager at Sauce Labs.
The following section will dive even deeper into what the vendor will need to create and submit their response back to the team. This section can also be a great place to call out the contacts of each team member responsible for the RFP process and any preferred means of communication and formats for how to deliver the response. A project timeline with specific due dates and a window into the feedback timeline can also be helpful for vendors to work on their end to respond promptly.
The outline serves as a drill-down into the purpose and overall scope of the project. This is the place to start outlining the need for the vendor’s solution, what needs to change internally, the problems trying to be solved, and how the vendor’s solution can help alleviate some of these challenges. The project outline can also be the section to dive into how each vendor can expect to be evaluated and offer an opportunity to clarify certain expectations or requirements, including legal standards or any terms and conditions.
Solution Provider Response
The solution provider response is a prime opportunity to ask detailed questions and prompts to the vendor. These questions can be customized specifically to the needs of the organization. When submitting an RFP for a sales enablement platform, practitioners may be interested in understanding capabilities such as the below:
- Content Management
- Buyer Engagement
- Guidance, Training, and Coaching
- Content Governance
- Reporting and Analytics
“When it comes to producing ROI studies or business cases, the vendor should be able to support you with this. If they’re not able to, if they’re reluctant to do so, then I would question that,” said Pandya.
An RFP is comprehensive for a reason, as choosing the right vendor for the right reasons can be paramount to a successful launch, increase in ROI, and overall help drive revenue across an organization. Finding a template that is easy to follow and modify to the project’s specific needs can be an essential first step in the process — whether refining the RFP process or just getting started.
Download the RFP template below to customize your own proposal form.