Viewpoint: 3 Ways Technology Makes Insurance Broker RFP Responses Easier

By Dave Hulsen | February 19, 2020

Requests for proposals (RFPs) are everywhere these days. As internet sourcing makes the market more competitive, insurance brokers who are able to quickly and accurately complete RFPs can see huge benefits and gain a strategic advantage.

Though new RFPs represent an opportunity to grow revenue, they often inspire feelings of dread. The process of crafting proposals has largely been manual, time-consuming and inefficient. But technology is changing that.

RFP software saves time and allows you to focus on the client. Every client is unique and they don’t want to feel like they’re being treated the same way as everyone else. They each have different questions, requirements and priorities. Spending more time focused on providing expert advice specific to their situation and delivering solutions tailored to the client’s needs goes a long way toward showing them you’re invested in their success.

RFP software helps brokers optimize their proposal process allowing them to review, collaborate on and complete proposals in a centralized location, creating a single source of truth. The knowledge library, where proposal content is stored, is the cornerstone of RFP software. All of the tools in the platform are designed to make proposal content more accessible, useful and transparent.

Accelerating the Process

The RFP process is costly, complex and prone to unexpected delays, so speed is crucial. RFP software automates the proposal process by using AI to analyze questions in the RFP and suggest the most likely responses. Automation quickly completes standard questions that require typical, boilerplate language. For example, you shouldn’t spend time typing out your business address or organizational information. In most cases, automation can complete more than half of any given proposal in a matter of minutes.

RFP automation will also suggest answers for more complex questions saving time that you can then spend customizing the content in areas that matter most to the client. Automation will also allow you to create and tag customizable variable text fields in your proposal content so you can quickly insert the company name, contact name or other information throughout the entire document.

If you work in a big firm, the process probably isn’t done when the proposal is complete. You may still have to run your proposal through marketing and legal for a final touch up and blessing. Giving these teams ample lead time is important, as they balance proposal review with their other responsibilities, which can cause compromise to your ability to deliver the proposal before the deadline.

Communicating, Collaborating

An RFP from a large business could require input or review from 10 or more people within the brokerage firm. A salesperson hands the RFP to a proposal manager who must then determine which subject matter experts (SMEs) have the industry-specific knowledge needed. They then need to reach out, send the questions, provide context and request input. And finally, you can send the proposed answer to the approver.

RFP software keeps everyone organized and on the same page. Simply import the proposal, tag your SMEs and approvers in the questions that you need them to contribute to, and then move on to the next thing. No more asking contributors to sift through long documents and trying to verify if they have the most up-to-date version.

SMEs can work on the responses and collaborate with one another in real time with clear change tracking so everyone knows who is working on what. Users can view historical response data to see when content was last updated, by whom and who approved it. Arming proposal managers with data allows them to confidently select the right answers quickly.

Managing the Process

If you’re running point on a proposal, it’s important to be able to see the status of each section and proactively address any bottlenecks or potential problems. RFP software enables a clear view of the proposal’s progress with helpful data visualizations and reports.

When the proposal manager tags a question or response for review, a notification is automatically sent to the assigned SME. When the SME is done, an alert is sent to the approver to let them know that the content is ready for review. RFP technology also offers access control so you can be sure that the right people have the right information.

What to Look For

Some key things to look for in RFP software include: easy-to-use, searchable knowledge base with tagging and categorization; AI tools to automate the response process; real-time collaboration tools for both internal and external teams; intelligent integrations and extensions so you can work in native apps; and best-in-class usability and customer experience team.

Hulsen is chief operations officer and co-founder of Leawood, Kansas-based RFP360.

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