I have worked on small-to-medium RFPs myself, as well as with clients who answer very large ones. What I've found over time is that you're very often going to re-use existing content and assets between tenders, though most companies don't really act on this fact.
One thing I've found very useful is to build a database of RFP responses that is as comprehensive as possible, including information such as the name of the client, their industry, the size of the contract, the services they were looking for, the status (was it a win or a loss?) as well as the contents of the response itself.
This way, when answering a new RFP it's easy to sift through existing ones and retrieve relevant content and information that can be used in your answer. This can significantly cut the time needed to respond to a RFP. It's also an invaluable source of information for new sales hires, helping them get up to speed much faster.
Not as painful as losing one.
Seriously, the amount of work it takes to respond to an RFP depends on the length and depth of the RFP combined with your experience level with similar RFPs. Perhaps more important is determining your chances of winning the RFP before you invest too much time and emotional energy into responding.
I have a 20 Question rubric that my teams and I have used to analyze and then increase our odds of a win. I can talk you through the 20 Questions over a 15 to 20 minute call if you'd like to set one up.
Best of luck.
You need to pick and choose appropriately. Some organizations make the mistake of applying to every tender and/or RFP that comes across their desk. What makes the process simpler is being very clear about your goals and objectives and finding alignment (even partially) within the RFP parameters. If you have a few clearly laid out goal statements, objective papers and know your metrics, then preparing an RFP is quite simple. I help many organizations with this aspect of fundraising (first by identifying what your internal needs are first, then looking for the fit externally) so let me know if I can be of help. Good luck!
Thanks guys - some great tips in there. I myself operate from the buyer side so I know how to create the requests for proposals (RFPs) myself. It's always interesting to hear what works best for sales professionals on the other side of the fence though and how to make it easier & painless for them to respond. That is something I'm always receptive to & is particularly evident within my projects & documentation.
I may be reaching out to you both in the near future, when pulling together some tips to my clients on how to sell to buyers (like me). Thanks for your insights.