What’s something you wish more people knew about you?Kathryn Bennett: My fascination with data comes from starting my career as a chemist, destroying chemical weapons for the Department of Defense. The reason I care about data integrity, data hygiene, and reporting is because of that scientific background. Ben Klein: Let’s not forget she’s Utah's strongest woman of 2020 and holds a world record in grip strength. Kathryn: Ben, you are too kind (laughs). Ben: For me, it’s that when I was starting out, I often got fired. Companies were excited for us to work together until they’d get the invoice. A lot of people understood the need for RFPs, but they didn't understand how much effort it took to complete them. I realized that my role was not just creating the RFP, but also offering data on how exactly we provided value, reduced workloads, and helped clients win.
Why should ops and proposal managers use data to prove the value of their role?Kathryn: If you don't have an understanding of the revenue you're generating, you cannot move past the order-taker role. Communicating the value of your work is just as important as the work itself. If you're bringing in even 30% of the revenue, your work and opinions matter. You need to know what percentage of revenue you contribute so you can understand your value and advocate for yourself. Ben: I encourage them to talk about the budget they’re responsible for. I track the total cost per submission for everything that I put out. If I’m managing $2.5 million on a client’s behalf and I suggest buying a $30,000 tool to cut 10% off that budget, suddenly you can point to the ROI. It works the same way when we’re advocating for more support or capacity from SMEs—if you can prove the value with data, those conversations will always go smoother.
What metrics should proposal managers track? How can that data improve their processes?Kathryn: Firstly, your RFPs need to be tied to a sales opportunity. They need to be shown as part of the sales and marketing funnel—they are not just some administrative task. Secondly, there are two types of metrics you should be tracking for all your RFPs projects. These will help you prove the value of your work and process and reveal areas for improvement.
- Outcome Data—Your outcome data will show you (and the client) how compliant you’ve been with the internal service level agreements. Have you turned around the RFP in the time allotted? What tools did you use? What did we earn? Who were our buyers and their industries? Collect this data to draw insights that help you understand whether the RFP process has been successful.
- Process Data—This data is more tricky. We’re tracking how much capacity we asked of our client’s SMEs. We’re tracking how the allotted time was spent. We look at the times we got shortlisted and if we’re converting the entire opportunity. For instance, if we get shortlisted 90% of the time, but we're not converting to the end, it probably means our demo or our interview is failing. Process data informs us of where the conversions are happening (or not) so you can determine where in the funnel needs improvement.