How do you find new business? For many energy software and sustainability companies, the answer is increasingly through responding to requests for proposals (RFPs) put out by large enterprises and government organizations.

As RFPs for energy software and sustainability companies become more common, it’s time to pull back the curtain on what it takes to win these proposals.

Why Do Companies Issue (and Why Should You Respond to) Energy Software RFPs?

First things first, what exactly is an energy software RFP? Organizations issue RFPs when they are searching for vendors to assist with a new program. The goal is that several qualified vendors will submit proposals, ultimately creating competition to win the contract. Often, this process also saves the company issuing the RFP time and money when it comes to researching potential vendors by making it easy for that company to compare different vendors on the same points. RFPs are common throughout many industries and have begun to pop up more and more in the energy software and sustainability market.

Although responding to RFPs can be a time consuming process, doing so can provide several benefits for energy software and sustainability companies. The obvious benefit is winning new business, though there are several other benefits to be gained regardless of whether or not you win the contract. Win or lose, key benefits of responding to energy software RFPs include:

-Sharpening your messaging: Identifying the best way to speak about your business, including what you offer and what differentiates you from others, as well as which of those points resonates best with potential clients is critical for any business. Drafting proposals and getting responses from these potential clients can help sharpen this messaging over time.

-Understanding common reasons why you win and lose to competitors: Every business has competitors, and understanding how you win and lose to those competitors can be extremely helpful in shaping your messaging and your go-to-market strategy.

-Streamlining and improving access to data: Slow and limited access to important data will hinder your ability to respond to RFPs efficiently and effectively, which makes improving data access a must. This improved access to data can positively impact other areas of your business too.

What are Common Components of Energy Software RFPs?

While there’s no one-size-fits all for formula, most energy software RFPs typically include the following components:

-Summary: Basic information on the company, the project, the need, and the RFP process and timeline.

-Company Overview: Company background, values, and current strategies.

-Program Overview: Detailed program outline, including objectives, strategies, key initiatives, and high level details about the role the vendor will play.

-Scope of Work: Outline of what the selected vendor will be responsible for, the expected timing, and location of work and any partnership requirements.

-Proposal Requirements: Key points of information that proposals need to include in order to be evaluated for selection.

-Evaluation Criteria: Details on how the issuing organization will evaluate proposals and any vendor qualification requirements.

-Selection Process and Timeline: Information on how the selection process will work and a timeline for each step of the process.

Looking at energy software RFPs in particular, an increasing number of organizations are including a request for automation for utility data aggregation and acquisition as an element of what they want vendors to provide. This trend has picked up steam as demand grows for a solution that can make that data processing more efficient, improve the accuracy of the data, and deliver actionable insights.

“Over time we’ve seen a clear move towards requests for automated utility data aggregation and acquisition, making Urjanet a real value add to our proposition in RFP responses. The follow on from this is a need for strong analysis and visuals at all levels of the business from sites to the enterprise level combined with the ability to track  initiatives and drive strategic change. This combination of automation and strategy is where sustainability leaders are using our solutions.” – Claire Forsyth, UL EHS Sustainability

Who Typically Publishes Energy Software RFPs?

While RFPs have traditionally come from governmental organizations (and many still do), any business can put out a RFP. Today, the demand for energy software as well as related energy and sustainability services is growing as the market matures and more companies recognize the importance of sustainability.

Again, any type of business could very well be interested in energy software to help improve its environmental footprint and appeal to environmentally-savvy customers and investors. That said, there are certain types of organizations that issue these requests most often:

-Real estate companies that develop and own a large portfolio of buildings (this applies to both commercial and multi-family residential buildings)

-Facility management organizations

-Manufacturing companies

-Government and education organizations

How Do You Win an Energy Software RFP?

The companies that win energy software RFPs are typically those whose proposals clearly demonstrate that they understand the issuing organization’s needs, are straightforward in how they can meet those needs, and make clear why they are different than the competition.

Additionally, as energy initiatives mature and data becomes increasingly important, the growing majority of companies that come out on top are those that can offer data automation, particularly around utility data acquisition and aggregation.

Beyond these points, the Entrepreneur’s Organization offers five tips when it comes to drafting winning proposals:

-Assign responsibility: Select a diverse group of only a few team members to draft your proposal.

-Give them what they want: Only provide the necessary details, as doing more might over complicate your submission and cause you to lose sight of the project at hand.

-Know your limits: Don’t oversell — be realistic and clear about what you can and can’t offer.

-Provide concrete examples: Share tangible examples of past successes that demonstrate your knowledge and experience.

-Ask for feedback: Regardless of whether you win or lose, getting feedback can help you improve your proposal the next time around.

It’s Time to Start Winning New Business

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start finding RFPs, crafting all-star proposals and winning new business. To help you maximize your chances we’ll be sharing our insider guide to winning energy software RFPs, including tips on picking the right RFPs for your business and drafting the best proposal you can. Stay tuned!