Most would agree that a company’s biggest asset is their employees. The same can be said for an RFP team and the Subject Matter Experts (SME) they partner with. SMEs are an invaluable resource to a proposal team, providing pertinent content and data for prospect and renewal RFPs. Without the support and partnership of SMEs, RFP content can lack substance needed to win contract awards.

Oftentimes, the relationship between RFP teams and SMEs is strained for a few different reasons. SMEs may feel overwhelmed with the amount of work already on their plates and may be reluctant to take on more responsibility. They may not understand their role in responding to RFPs and their value to the organization. RFP awards, which translate into millions of dollars in revenue along with an increase in membership to an organization, are granted to those with the best RFP content. When RFP teams and SMEs are not on the same page, RFP content suffers and hinders your organization from reaching your full potential.

So how can an RFP team better engage their SMEs to create optimal RFP content? Below are few processes you can implement this year to ensure the restart of new, strategic partnerships.

  • Educate on the RFP process and timelines
  • SMEs can be less than willing to help, mostly because they aren’t aware of the RFP process, timeline, client expectations, and impact to the organization. Taking the time to educate them, their teams, and department leaders will improve collaboration when needed.
  • Staff meeting collaborations
  • Creating the best RFP content requires open communication between SMEs and RFP teams. Regularly scheduled meetings are a great strategy to ensure that SMEs and RFP teams are on the same page, allows for them to check in on the progress made, and gives them a space to collaborate efficiently.
  • Updating SME contacts and department org charts
  • Staffing changes occur in every organization, so make it an annual practice to update your contact database and collect org charts. This saves your RFP team time when reaching out for help and creates a more efficient working environment.
  • Annual roadshow to establish roles and responsibilities
  • Set the stage at the beginning of the year with a successful forum to get in front of accountable teams. Introduce RFP team members, outline roles and responsibilities, discuss knowledge of pipeline to understand volume, and answer questions. Make it fun with some RFP trivia!
  • Understand the world of your SME’s
  • All departments in an organization are busy. Take the time to understand their roles and note when they tend to be busier throughout the year. Perhaps there are better times to capture pertinent updates to content, outside of an RFP. This collaboration will help strengthen your partnership.

We all work hard to build relationships in our personal lives. It is just as important in the business world. Networking and maintaining business associates throughout your organization is essential as an RFP leader and team member. Your SMEs will be more likely to have your back as an established partner when you need them most for your RFP content. For further best practices and RFP expertise, check out our Winning RFPs blog series.

Interested in getting the tools you need to stand out among the competition and winning the bid that will help your organization grow? Learn more about what we can do for your RFP content.

About Weber Associates

Weber Associates is a Columbus, OH based consulting firm. Since 1985, we have blended the creativity of a marketing agency with the analytical rigor of a consultancy to help our clients significantly grow revenues and customer loyalty. People hire us to solve real sales and marketing challenges. To improve their sales process. To grab someone’s attention and selling something. In short, they hire us to make their marketing make more sales.