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Why Responding to RFPs is like a Medieval Battle

Whenever one hears the term ‘battlefield,’ they may be quick to think of the countless historic wars and battles that have persisted since the beginning of time. As businesses have evolved and adapted to the ever-increasing competitive landscape, once could make the argument that responding to an RFP in 2022 is like facing off against your enemies on the battlefield – or better yet, a Medieval Battle. There are a number of reasons as to why any one particular company looks to the formal proposal bidding process as means for sourcing additional revenue or novel business, and in the world of COVID-19 – businesses face heightened external pressure from direct competing firms.

As the volatility of commodities and world markets fluctuates on a daily basis, companies will find themselves increasingly competing for the same resources, talent, and opportunities; but a polished RFP response is the equivalent of sharpening your sword or making additional arrows for your bow. Preparation for battle is key, and the resemblance does not cease here. Now – let’s embark on quest to the Medieval era and learn more of the parallels between RFP responses and preparing for a Medieval battle.


Formulating an RFP Response with the Competition in Mind

When watching your favorite sports team play over the weekend or learning of the countless Medieval battles taken place, one of the two following realizations becomes glaringly apparent:

  • You are woefully ill-prepared for battle.
  • You possess adequate knowledge of your competition and adapt the game plan towards defeating that particular competitor’s strengths.

For example, if a knight preparing the battles faces an army of ground troops then said knight may want to utilize cavalry or various projectiles that catapult his kingdom to victory. Similarly, understanding the competitive landscape of various firms and stakeholders enables the RFP response team to best position their company to win the bid.

The need to have a well-maintained and consistent competitor analysis is a great way to prepare your company for battle against the market. For example, most leadership and senior-level marketers differ to a diagram/tool known as a SWOT Analysis. By taking a brief moment and analyzing the competitive landscape’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats – any proposal or procurement team can successfully position themselves as unique and 1 of 1 in the eyes of the requesting party. If you know your competition does not offer a key product or service, then emphasizing that you can provide those products or services may prove vital in winning the bid or setting your firm apart from the competition.


Utilizing your Response Team’s Strengths for the RFP Response

Before you enter a battle, you must first understand how many soldiers you have available, who will be leading the charge, and what kind of weapons can best be utilized in securing a victory. As with any organization, it is the sum of the parts that leads to a successful and well-oiled machine. With the RFP process, one’s firm is immediately positioning itself in the green by establishing a collaborative experience in responding to the proposal; having the right colleagues in the right place is sure to turn the tides of the battle!

After entering your name into a bid, you must know exactly who will be managing the bid, how many times needs to be spent on the bid, and who will be responding. Understanding how much time needs to be allocated for any one particular opportunity can help your team manage and tackle other novel bids and priorities. There are many software tools available that help determine assignment of workflows in order to best manage RFP response opportunities. For example, one team may want a system that tracks the following: which colleague responds to this proposal type, the number of teammates needed to formulate a proposal response, the success rate in working with this vendor, or the time spent by the team collectively responding to this vendor.

Since Catapult is all about celebrating the Unsung Heroes of RFPs, an important callout for any proposal response team is the addition of a content manager: a true necessity for the battlefield. When making a direct comparison to a Medieval Battle, if the army fails to maintain the condition of the swords or shields, fails to ensure that the horses are fed – all the necessary precursors… then failure may seem imminent on the battlefield.


Ultimate Goal – Victory!

You’ve marched into battle, you’ve begun the siege of the castle, and you have fought valiantly for the win – but what exactly has been gained by succeeding in this battle? The immediate answer, of course, is claiming victory on the opportunity and being awarded the formal opportunity to conduct business with a vendor, but there are some less-obvious victories as well. For example, one of the end results of winning this proposal response could be exposure. When one kingdom wins a battle, news tends to spread, and other kingdoms hear about the victory and want to forge new relationships – ultimately leading to more opportunities. as a natural precession of conducting business, the vendor with which you won the proposal opportunity will more-than-likely begin talking to similar firms about your proposal success and provide potential referrals.

Sadly, the RFP response team of Procurement department cannot celebrate forever, for there are more battles to face and more competition to beat out. So suit up because a conquest is ahead of you, and it is time to Catapult your company forward!

Conquer Kingdoms!

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