3 Pillars For Winning Federal Government Bids and Proposals
The three pillars for winning Federal government contracts and proposals are focus, connections, and consistency.
These three pillars give you the benefits of:
- Increased revenues – from winning new deals.
- Reduced costs – as you stop competing for unwinnable deals.
- Higher profits – as you expand business with the right target clients.
Many government contractors make the costly mistake of bidding anything and everything, out of fear of winning nothing. Their losses are high, and profits are low. It doesn’t have to be that way! When you choose to pursue fewer opportunities, selected in agencies where you have relationships with people who are receptive to your capability and past performance, each successive bid establishes your reputation in your area of expertise. That translates into more winning bids.
Better still, that focus also boosts your profit, because every bid – win or lose – represents an enormous investment of time and money.
Federal Government Bids and Proposals
Federal buyers have many options to buy what you do! Just because they can use a contract vehicle – like a GSA Schedule, or Government Wide Acquisition Contract (GWACs) like POLARIS or OASIS, for instance – doesn’t mean they will. Don’t make the mistake of investing thousands of dollars and months of time writing expensive proposals in the hope that many buyers will call on you. When you limit your pursuit of contract vehicles to just the ones your research shows your focus agencies actually use, you’ll save thousands of dollars and months of time.
Not sure how to do that research? Help is here, including Three Easy Lessons in Free Federal Market Research.
Federal buyers are required by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to maximize competition wherever practical. However, there are mechanisms to narrow the competition in some cases – for example, set-asides.
Set-asides are a tool that Federal buyers use frequently. It allows them to award work with preferred, qualified, small businesses while demonstrating compliance with FAR.
See how that works? First, be the one they want. THEN make sure they know all the set-asides you have available. Using this approach, you can provide the Federal buyers with an option that limits the competitive pool and still show that they shopped the contract.
Remember, to set aside an opportunity, the Buyers must already know at least two (and probably more) small businesses that they are confident can do the work at a fair and reasonable price.
If your business qualifies for one or more Federal small business certifications, be sure to get them, and make buyers aware of the ones you hold, including:
- Small Business
- Woman-owned Small Business
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
- 8(a) Small Disadvantaged Business
Still feeling frustrated? Find out why your set-asides aren’t driving business, and how to fix it.
Steps to Winning More Federal Government Bids and Proposals
These steps will guide you towards a tighter focus and a faster path to winning more federal government bids and proposals:
1. Identify a limited number of agencies and winnable projects.
- You don’t want (or need ) to work with everyone.
- Find the agencies and people that are the best fit for you.
2. Adopt a structured bidding strategy.
- Use transparent tools consistently across your team.
- Check out our free Bid / No-Bid Toolbox.
3. Commit to only writing winnable proposals.
- Target and build relationships with the right people in your chosen agencies.
- Pick the right projects that fit your capability and past performance.
- Make those tasks easier with our proven PALM – Players and Layers Methodology® today!
4. Set realistic timelines.
- Leave yourself plenty of time to build critical relationships prior to bidding.
- Understand the proposal thoroughly and submit it on time.
5. Know your capacity.
- If you’re bidding bigger than usual, show your buyer how you’ll mitigate the risks.
- Don’t go big just to fall short if you can’t truly deliver outstanding results.
A tight agency focus and realistic bid choices considerably increase your likelihood of success.
Federal decision-makers are inherently risk-averse. Buyers – including Federal ones – naturally turn first to people they already know and trust! The better they get to know you, even before they award work to you for the first time, the more confidence they have in you and your team.
Relationships with the right people can also reduce the guesswork for you, especially before a formal requirement or RFP is published. Before submitting a proposal, be sure the decision-makers know you, like you, and trust you. If you don’t know them yet, don’t bid.
Early conversations make it possible to reach out to insiders, clarify information, verify assumptions, understand the true problems, and confirm the unspoken, unwritten desires and fears that are behind a project’s published scope.
Commit to meeting the right people at the right time (aka “long before the RFP hits the street”) as part of a comprehensive capture strategy. Expect to submit a couple of unsuccessful bids to a specific office before landing the first win. That’s often how the players at all the layers get to know you, and also give you feedback that positions you for future wins.
Learn more about Summit Insight’s PALM – Players and Layers Methodology®.
Consistency in the way your company is represented across different media builds confidence with decision-makers. Conversely, inconsistency in seemingly small things creates confusion at best. At worst, repeated minor errors give buyers the strong message that you are careless and won’t take good care of them…so they’ll be looking for any reason not to choose you.
For example, you want to make sure the name of your company, points of contact, URL, contract vehicle numbers, NAICS codes, Product Service Codes (PSCs ), and keywords are listed identically and consistently on:
- The SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS)
- Capabilities statement
- Social media
- Sales materials
Carefully craft and consistently include details about these critical but often overlooked areas:
Company positioning statement:
- What exactly do you do?
- What problems do you solve?
- Who do you serve?
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) that support consistent, high-quality delivery of products and services. Some examples:
- Proven methodologies to handle inquiries and interactions within a specified response time.
- Objective standards to assess quality control or risk: e.g. ISO:9001 or EMR rating.
- Proprietary processes you use to reduce risk and improve the quality of the outcome.
Best values (also known as Unique Value Propositions or Differentiators):
- Use measures that are objectively verifiable and ideally quantifiable.
- Choose examples that show why you are the low-risk choice, and make it easy for them to pick you, and at your price.
Use these three pillars—focus, connections, and consistency—to streamline your investments of time and money. You’ll work smarter, find the right people and opportunities, and win more Federal bids faster.
About Judy Bradt & Summit Insight
Judy Bradt is an expert speaker and author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller “Government Contracts Made Easier.” She has over 32 years of experience in federal business development and strategy and provides consulting services helping companies to win government contracts through her company Summit Insight.
When you’re ready to take the next steps to Focus, Connect and be Consistent in order to win federal bids and proposals, get in touch with Judy.