Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sales Enablement RFPs

Answers to Your Top 10 Questions

What Should I Include in a Sales Enablement RFP?

Picture this: You’re CRO of a fast-growing medical device company whose first product has just been approved by the FDA. You’ve been named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 25 Most Innovative Businesses. Your new device will help millions of patients. You’re ecstatic!

But wait a minute. You didn’t expect approval this quickly and only have a small team ready to take the product to market. The demand for your solution will rapidly outstrip the capacity of your sales force. You’ve got to hire and train new talent—quickly—and you haven’t put a formal onboarding process in place.

Or picture this: You’re VP of Sales at a large software provider with a multinational sales force spread across five continents. You need a way to train hundreds of remote employees and improve collaboration among geographically distributed reps, some of whom speak English as a second language.

In the past, you’ve relied on infrequent (and expensive) in-person sessions, but you’re not sure these are effective. Your sellers don’t have a way to reinforce what they’ve learned and you don’t have a way for ‘A’ players to share what works with the middle of the pack.

Finding the Right Solution

These two situations may sound familiar. As a sales leader, you know you need help, but you don’t know where to start. And this is just the beginning. Your sales enablement needs will continue to grow in the months and years ahead.

Given its powerful impact on the bottom line, sales enablement is no longer optional. It’s a crucial element for survival, growth, and success in today’s ultra-competitive economy.

The right sales enablement platform will resolve your most pressing pains, and have the key capabilities your team will require in the future. But with so many competing solutions on the market, how do you know which is the best match for your organization?

Choosing the right platform has become a more of a challenge. You have so many questions:

  • What capabilities do you need?
  • What implementation pitfalls do you need to be aware of?
  • Who will provide the best customer support and be a proactive long-term partner?
  • Which platform will provide the most seamless, user-friendly experience that your reps will actually adopt?

The first step to finding a solution is easier than you think. Create a Request for Proposal (RFP) and send it to qualified vendors. This will allow you to evaluate options and choose the best sales enablement solution for your growing needs.

If you’re unfamiliar with RFPs—or simply unsure of how to write one for a software platform— here are answers to the top eleven questions about creating an RFP for sales enablement technology.

Top 11 Sales Enablement RFP Questions

  • What Is an RFP?
  • Why Should I Send an RFP?
  • Who Should I Send an RFP to?
  • What Should I Include in a Sales Enablement RFP?
  • What Specific Sales Enablement Capabilities Should I Include in My RFP?
  • What Else Should I Include?
  • How Do I Prepare an RFP?
  • What Should I Ask My Top Vendors in the Follow-Up Period?
  • Which RFP Mistakes Should I Avoid?
  • What Are Frequently Asked RFP Questions?
  • Where Can I Find a Sales Enablement RFP Template?

What Is an RFP?

Businesses create RFPs when they need a product or service they can’t develop internally. RFPs outline the requirements and capabilities of the solution and are sent to vendors who have the ability to provide the technology.

For example, a financial services firm that finds that its current certification process isn’t adequate in a hybrid work situation needs to ensure that asset managers are staying on message and meeting compliance requirements. The firm’s head of commercial excellence can send a sales enablement RFP to qualified vendors.

Companies that are interested in and able to provide the solution outlined in the RFP will provide a personalized proposal. The business that issued the RFP will review proposals, conduct interviews, obtain references, and request bids. At the end of this process, they’ll award the contract to the vendor of their choice.

A sales enablement manager, sales operations manager, or sales leader can write the RFP. Because they’re very familiar with the needs of the organization, they’re most likely to create a comprehensive RFP that gets the best results.

In today’s cluttered and changing sales enablement landscape, read on to find out the key qualities that must be included in your RFP if you want to cut through the noise and find the best solution.

Why Should I Send an RFP?

There are a variety of reasons why you should send RFPs. Ultimately, RFPs help you make an informed decision on the vendor that’s right for you. Here are a few more reasons why you should send RFPs and how you’ll benefit from doing so:

  • RFPs help you find the most qualified companies for your goals and objectives, which is especially important if you require technical or industry expertise.
  • RFPs help you get the best solution at a fair price since vendors are competing for the opportunity.
    RFPs help you make an apples-to-apples comparison between different vendors since they’re all answering the same questions.
  • RFP responses give you insight into the quality of the bidder and help you quickly weed out unqualified vendors.

Who Should I Send an RFP to?

You’ll get the best results (and reach the most qualified vendors) when you send your RFP to a curated list of platform providers. The Gartner Market Guide for Sales Enablement Platforms is an excellent resource that highlights critical sales enablement capabilities required for sales enablement success.

Gartner’s annual report shares how to evaluate key vendors’ technology and recognizes fifteen vendor platforms that provide the components that organizations need for today’s hybrid teams.

Make sure you do as much research as possible on vendors before sending out your RFP. Read online reviews, study analyst research reports, and take the time to compile a vetted list of qualified vendors. You don’t want to send the RFP to an unmanageably large list.

What Should I Include in My Sales Enablement RFP?

Deciding what to include in your sales enablement RFP can be daunting. You need to provide enough information for vendors to understand your expectations, goals, and the scope of your requirements right away.

But you also don’t want to be unprepared for future needs. This means working with a vendor that supports a holistic sales enablement approach. This will ensure you have the technology to meet emerging objectives.

Your evaluation should include the new breed of integrated platforms. These solutions accelerate the sales cycle, drive higher average contract values, and boost profitability in the sales organization. 

Innovative sales enablement technology can help you deliver the training, content, and coaching, to drive results in the future—and you don’t have to spend a fortune on multiple solutions to do it.

Here are the five most important sales enablement use cases for today’s hybrid sales teams.

  • Sales Content Management: Create, manage, and activate sales content with context for greater effectiveness through marketing and sales collaboration.
  • Onboarding and Training: Bolster engagement, behavior change, and retention with virtual programs that shorten ramp time and produce measurable business value.
  • Coaching and Collaboration: Target skill gaps with conversation intelligence and point-in-time feedback. Drive team productivity by connecting sellers, managers, internal experts, and peers with the knowledge needed to win.
  • Launches and Rollouts: Accelerate proficiency, drive the use of strategic content, and ensure reps articulate key messaging for every prospect’s needs.
  • Virtual Selling: Effectively engage buyers virtually at every stage of the sales process with interactive, personalized experiences and content.

For a complete list of capabilities and key questions to ask, download Your Copy of How to Evaluate Modern Learning and Enablement Platforms

What Specific Sales Enablement Capabilities Should I Include in My RFP?

Daily conversations with buyers require sales reps to convey value effectively, recall information about a vast portfolio of products and services, and respond to questions about rapidly changing competitive landscapes on the fly. 

Traditional formal learning (classroom training, eLearning courses, and lengthy webinars) represents only about 10% of how sales reps learn to do their jobs. This huge gap between the way learning is typically provided and the way that salespeople learn—whether or not you train them that way—means that your training may not be nearly as effective as you expect.

The way to mitigate this risk is by choosing a sales enablement platform that supports both the formal and informal learning that salespeople need to be successful.

Ensure your software vendor meets these needs by including these requirements in your RFP:

  • Just-In-Time Learning: Best practice videos, content recommendations based on buying stage, and AI-powered microlearning—all accessible at the moment of need.
  • Content Management: Centralized, organized, and accessible resources and materials sellers use every day, so they’re equipped to solve every customers’ challenges.
  • Agile Content: Interactive video, field-generated content, and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing that can be accessed in the flow of work.
  • Peer Collaboration: A mechanism for sales reps to interact and share best practices with one another.
  • Ad Hoc Practice and Coaching: Asynchronous coaching interactions to overcome time and distance barriers.
  • Customizable Curriculum: Personalized programs tailored to each learner’s needs that present interactive content, peer-generated videos, video exercise simulations, and knowledge checks and quizzes to reinforce learning.
  • Management Reporting and Enablement. Visibility into content use, platform adoption, engagement, and learning progress to empower sales leaders, managers, and coaches.
  • Digital Sales Rooms: Improved buyer engagement and communication through the creation of personalized online deal rooms.
  • Conversation Intelligence: Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to record, transcribe, and analyze sales calls and generate recommendations and data-driven insights.
  • Ease of Use. Intuitive design for training administrators and learners, too.

Learn More

Download your All-in-One Sales Enablement Kit for specific criteria and questions to ask.

What Else Should I Include in My Sales Enablement RFP?

In addition to evaluating vendors on your organization’s requirements, you will also want to include other information in your RFP to give sales enablement vendors a bigger picture and provide context for your use cases.

Let’s review a few guidelines and other information you should include in your RFP.

Company Overview

Starting with the basics may seem obvious, but this essential information is often overlooked. Your RFP should begin by providing vendors with the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Give them a brief overview of what your company does, including your history.

Solution Overview

Vendors also need a concise overview of what you want to get out of your sales enablement platform. Clearly state your goals so they understand what’s expected of them if they’re chosen. This is also referred to as a statement of work since it defines the scope of work the winning vendor will provide.

Project Timeline

Your RFP must include a detailed timeline with specific due dates. Tell potential vendors exactly when their response is due (date and time). This helps them determine if they have enough time to submit a thorough response.

Submission Requirements

Your RFP should include phone numbers and email addresses for everyone involved with the project. Vendors should also know who they should send their responses to and who to contact if they have questions. Make sure you tell them how to submit their proposals. You’ll get the best response to your RFP when there’s no confusion among vendors on their next steps.

How Do I Prepare an RFP?

There are plenty of RFP best practices to keep in mind when you’re creating your sales enablement RFP. In this section, we’ll walk you through writing an RFP for a sales enablement platform. We’ll also provide examples of language you can use in each section of your RFP.

Start by determining everything you want to include before you start writing your RFP. Make sure you’ve gathered the info we outlined in the previous section. We recommend creating a detailed outline that maps out the sections of your RFP and what you plan on including in each section.

To make your life easier, here’s a quick overview of how to write your RFP:

  1. Start with a brief introduction. This section is essentially your project overview. Tell vendors why you’re putting out an RFP and the end goals of your project.

For example: [Company] is seeking proposals to [brief description] as described below. We are seeking quotes from a minimum of [number] vendors for this project. We request that all bids be finalized and submitted to [contact] by [due date / time].

  1. Clearly state your vendor requirements. This section should list the requirements vendors must meet to be considered. You’ll list use cases, features, and capabilities that will satisfy the short- and longer-term needs of your company. These may include training, onboarding, coaching, sales content management, virtual selling, product launch, communication, collaboration, and reporting/analytics (see the checklist below).

For example: [Company] is looking for: [list of requirements/qualifications].

  1. Explain your selection criteria. Providing vendors with information on your selection criteria in your RFP helps you weed out unqualified vendors ahead of time. Don’t feel like you need to show your entire hand right up front, though. You can provide as little or as much information as you want.

For example: [Company] will evaluate vendors based on the following: [list of selection criteria such as number of users, data integrations, partner ecosystem, years in operation, case studies, implementation process, customer support, etc.]

  1. Provide a comprehensive timeline. This is where you’ll lay out a detailed timeline for vendors. Your timeline should include the proposal submission deadline, the length of your evaluation process, and when vendors will receive your decision.

For example: Bids are due on [date / time]. We will review all bids to ensure they meet our requirements and score them based on our stated selection criteria. The review process will take [length of time]. All vendors will be notified of our decision by [date].

What Follow-Up Questions Should I Ask My Top Vendors?

Once you’ve chosen your top two or three vendors, there are some specific questions you should ask. We recommend asking vendors the questions below:

  • Why do you feel you are the best in the industry?
  • What makes your platform better than the competition? 
  • How will you make sure we partner together for mutual success over the long run? 
  • How many installations have you completed that are similar to my use case?
  • What is next in your roadmap, and where do you expect to be in the next 5 years?
  • What will be important in this space?
  • What support is available as part of our vendor relationship and are there additional professional services fees?
  • How will you work with us to successfully implement and onboard your platform?
  • How do you help companies with legacy systems transition to your platform and what is the expected timeframe?
  • What training for employees and partners will you provide to users during onboarding?
  • What other companies do you partner with?
  • What data sources / systems / tools do you integrate with?
  • When was the last time you upgraded your platform?
  • What additional features / capabilities did you add? 
  • What are the common barriers that your clients face during implementation?

Learn More

Download your All-in-One Sales Enablement Kit for specific criteria and questions to ask.

Which RFP Mistakes Should I Avoid?

There are a number of mistakes we’ve seen companies fall prey to during the request for proposal process. To save you time and headaches, here’s our list of RFP mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t let your RFP replace a sit-down meeting with your top vendors. You can’t compare vendors solely based on their written responses to your RFP. The RFP should simply be a qualifier to get vendors through to an interview phase.
  • Be very specific about what you want. For example, if you’re vetting sales enablement solution providers, don’t use generalities like “we want to improve training.” This is table stakes and doesn’t tell the vendor anything they don’t already know.
  • Don’t make cost the main focus of your RFP. This almost always sets you up for failure, because you get what you pay for. If you choose the vendor with the lowest cost, chances are you’ll get lower-quality work. Instead, focus on finding a vendor that shares your values, and build a relationship with them from there. In most cases, this will produce the best results.
  • Don’t ask for references until you’ve chosen your top vendors. This ensures you don’t waste your time and the vendor doesn’t waste theirs. Make sure the references you receive are detailed and up to date.
  • Don’t ask dozens of vendors to submit responses just because you think you’ll get a variety of choices. Instead, limit it to three vendors that you vet yourself. It’s easier to meet with and assess a smaller group of vendors.
  • Don’t rush through the selection process. Selecting a vendor should take a long time and involve multiple meetings and lots of conversations.
  • Don’t feel obligated to include an implementation timeline. Based on your requirements, the winning vendor has the experience to recommend the best timeline for you and them. An RFP timeline only has to go through the selection of the vendor. You may, however, include a target date on when you’d prefer to have the platform stood up to coincide with a business objective, milestone, or project cycle.

What Are Frequently Asked RFP Questions?

There are plenty of frequently asked questions when it comes to RFPs. We’ve curated a list of some of the most common RFP FAQs below:

Q: What are RFIs and RFQs?

A: An RFI (request for information) contains fewer questions than an RFP and is designed to help companies decide whether a particular vendor should be included in the list of vendors they send their RFP to. An RFQ (request for quotation) seeks specific, relevant cost details related to the product / service that is the subject of the RFP.

Q: How long should my RFP be?

A: As we said above, your RFP should be concise and to the point. Longer isn’t always better. There’s no set number when it comes to how many questions you should ask in your RFP. The length will depend on the scope of your project.

Q: How many vendors should I send my RFP to?

A: Again, there’s no cut and dry answer to this question. If the product / service you need is highly specialized, you’ll send your RFP to a smaller number of vendors. If what you need is less niche, you’ll be able to send your RFP to more vendors.

Q: How should I format my RFP?

A: Opinions on this question vary, but we recommend using tables and lists wherever possible. Each of your questions should correspond with a specific section to keep things organized. Make sure you leave space for the vendor to reply.

Q: How should I evaluate my RFP responses?

A: We recommend using a scoring system to evaluate RFPs. Score the responses you receive on a scale from 1-5 or 1-10. This helps you make more apples-to-apples comparisons so you get the best value.

Q: Should I notify vendors that didn’t win the job?

A: Yes! Vendors put a lot of time into their responses. Let them know which vendor won the project and accompany that with a brief reason why they didn’t get the job.

Where Can I Find a Sales Enablement RFP Template?

Looking for an easy-to-use template to get you started on a sales enablement RFP? Check out our RFP template below.

Download Our Free Sales Enablement RFP Template

Learn More

Download your All-in-One Sales Enablement Kit to learn how to create a comprehensive RFP and keep the evaluation process on track.

Download Now