There comes a time in the life of every SaaS company when you’ll be researching customer success software that would be a good fit for your team. There are many solutions on the market, and you need to gather the right information from every vendor to evaluate which would be a good tool. It’s no good jumping right into a software that you’ll soon discover doesn’t have the features or scalability required for your growing customer success team.
That’s why many customer success teams opt for a request for proposal (RFP) which they can submit to vendors who are bidding for their business. We’ll be discussing the top mistakes that SaaS businesses make in the process of submitting RFPs for customer success software.
What is a Request For Proposal (RFP)?
A request for proposal is a questionnaire that companies submit to vendors from whom they are intending to buy a product or service. The main advantage of the RFP is being able to gather vendor data in a standardized format which results in easier comparisons between different solutions.
Another advantage of the RFP is being able to learn about the offerings of different vendors while minimizing the cost and risk of choosing solutions that will be a bad fit. In the case of the customer success software, the client will be able to evaluate different tools through RFP responses that have been customized to fit their particular business.
7 Most Common RFP Mistakes to Avoid
1. You fail to think about the future
When you submit an RFP to a vendor, you need to think about your customer success team needs in the future. You might have a small team of three now, but what happens after you experience growth and your team expands to a dozen? Can your solution support large numbers of customer success managers and customers, and is the cost of such scalability within your budget?
Account for the future in your RFP and you’ll stand a much better chance of receiving RFP responses from vendors that can cater to your needs. Tailor your questions so they not only cater for your current requirements but also anticipate your situation three months, six months, or a year down the line.
2. Scheduling a product demo too early
When moving through an RFP process it’s common to schedule a product demo with your vendor so you can see how everything works. The problem with organizing such a demo too early in the process is that you have to endure a demo that is too generic and doesn’t really answer your specific questions about the customer success software.
It’s much better to jump on a short call with your prospective vendor so they can learn more about your requirements. This type of call helps you eliminate vendors who are not a good fit before you spend lots of time drafting an RFP that is going nowhere. To make sure that the vendor can learn as much as possible about your team, prepare answers to questions such as why you’re interested in a customer success tool, and what challenges is your customer success team struggling with?
3. Too many stakeholders involved in the process
The problem with getting your RFP off the ground can be that there are too many stakeholders involved in its production. While you’ll want to gather input from relevant members of your team, having too many contributors results in a bloated document that vendors will struggle to complete.
If the RFP process takes too long, then it’s likely that your customer success team’s needs will have changed and you’ll have to start all over again. Limit your contributors to just five of the most relevant colleagues, whose role will be directly relevant to the goals of your RFP.
4. You don’t conduct thorough research into vendors
Another mistake companies make is submitting RFPs to vendors who have no hope of being a good fit for your needs. They cast the net too wide and send RFPs to vendors who are only vaguely relevant and end up drowning in information. While the RFP is important in gathering specifications from vendors, you also need to conduct your own research into possible solutions.
The RFP is intended to drill down to a deeper level about the solution rather than gathering information on higher level functionality. You should identify those vendors who are a possible fit for customer success software and then contact them for more specific information relating to your use case.
5. Requesting too much information (or not enough)
RFPs are intended for clients to be able to objectively compare different vendors and evaluate the best option for their team. If your RFPs are too complicated then you won’t be able to understand which are the most relevant solutions to proceed with. Don’t be afraid to specify when your question only requires a yes or no answer to avoid bloated answers.
It’s also possible that your RFP won’t gather enough information to be meaningful. Throughout your RFP, make it clear when you want to instruct vendors to provide more detail and elaborate on previous answers.
6. Not structuring your questions properly
When writing your RFP, it’s important to structure your questions properly so your vendor knows what is being asked of them. If you write vague or ambiguous questions, this can result in a significant waste of time and effort as you get answers that are not relevant. You don’t want to end up in a situation where a vendor is getting in contact with you to request clarification on your RFP.
Schedule a demo with one of our experts to take a deeper dive into Churn360Book a demo
If you get it right the first time, this will speed up the RFP process and enable your team to identify highly relevant software that meets your needs. Consider whether you can condense questions into just one or two points, and whether yes or no answers will meet your needs.
7. Not prioritizing the most important features
Finally, one of the most important points to remember during your RFP process is that no solution will be able to offer every single feature your team might think is useful. Most software products perform well in just a few areas while other features might be only satisfactory.
It’s up to your team to decide which features are the most vital to you and give them a weighting based on their significance. You might consider customer health scoring an essential feature but customer surveys just a nice-to-have. You may well want to ask a vendor if they have a nice-to-have feature but remember that it’s not a deal-breaker.
A request for proposal is a popular way to solicit different vendors who offer a particular product or service, and can be especially useful for SaaS companies looking for customer success software. There are many solutions on the market that you’ll want to consider, and RFPs help you evaluate the different tools without committing to a solution before you’re ready.
If you avoid these common RFP mistakes, you’ll ensure that you’re attracting bids from vendors that are highly relevant and useful in the evaluation process. You’ll be able to objectively compare vendor data so you can decide which solutions you want to pursue further.