Win More Federal Government Bids—Focus On The People
Winning contracts requires connecting with the right people at the right time in the right way with the right offering. This is indeed a tall order, but you absolutely can take steps to make it happen.
Connecting Before the Bid
Summit Insight consistently helps clients build their way to winning proposals with ten proven tactics. And “Connecting” with the influencers and decision-makers is one of the foundation stones.
The final engagement (winning the contract) results from a trusted relationship built over time before the bid. You need to become the top-of-mind supplier when the formal competition begins.
HINT: the real competition starts many months before the bid or Request For Proposal (RFP) is published.
While every Contracting Officer I have ever spoken to says they do not have a favorite vendor going into the competition, the most successful vendors know the players at all the layers long before the bid deadline. That’s not only allowed…it’s encouraged by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (See FAR SubPart 15.201)
How do you make connections? Here are some proven tactics.
Gather Intelligence Prior to the Bid
If you wanted to propose marriage to someone, you wouldn’t set eyes on them across the crowded room, make a beeline for them, go down on one knee, open the ring box, and announce your intentions, would you?
If you saw someone else do that, you’d cringe. You know better! You have to woo them, get to know them, find out what they like, what matters to them, know who they hang out with, go on a coffee date…
Aha. Ever think of Federal contracting like that? You’re building a relationship with a lot on the line for both partners!
If you see the “perfect” Federal opportunity online, with less than 30 days to go, and you don’t know the buyer, you don’t know their budget, you don’t know the incumbent, and you don’t know the history, your odds of winning are in the single digits.
GovCon is a relationship game. The winner probably built key relationships many months before the solicitation hit the street. The best intelligence doesn’t come from any database. It comes from relationships!
When you see that “perfect” opportunity without a lot of lead time, think twice. It may be that your best move is to back away, get to know the story, and the players at all the layers, and then circle back for the next opportunity when you really know the story.
If this is the agency, the federal buyer, you are meant to serve, then you will keep coming back. This won’t be the only time they ever buy your services. Your odds of winning will be much better if you take the time to get to know them first.
When your Business Development team brings you an opportunity? Ask yourselves, “Who do we know there?” If you only know the Small Business Specialist, remember that person is not your buyer. They can’t award a contract and are not stuck with the consequences (good or bad) of awarding that work to you. Ask, “who are we up against? What do we know about them? Would we need to team? If they don’t know us, why would they choose us?”
Get To Know The Players At Every Layer
No matter how many GSA Schedule categories we have, no matter what our set-asides or contract vehicles, the successful vendors do their homework. Research the decision-makers and influencers in the agency where you want to win. Then you need an action plan to build great relationships with them.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it can be easier using the Summit Insight methodology—the secret sauce we share with our clients. It all starts by discovering and understanding the Players and Layers Methodology® and downloading the GovCon Personas Guide.
Then, explore what to do, what to say, and what to ask in our Players and Layers Methodology™ (PALM). Invest the time to get to know how they work and nurture those relationships. That’s how we hear more about their needs earlier in the buying process. Eventually, we take the opportunities to respond to (or even help develop!) the specifications within a Sources Sought Notice, Request For Information (RFI), or RFP.
Know How They Buy – and Make it Easy!One of the biggest frustrations GovCons have is why their set-asides and contract vehicles aren’t driving business. It doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s why it happens and how you can avoid that problem. Too many GovCons – with the best intentions and most trusted advice – invest thousands of dollars and months of time writing proposals pursuing GSA Schedules and other contract vehicles before they niche down and then research how the people in their chosen departments and agencies actually buy! When we approach our chosen Federal prospects—with a clear understanding of how they like to buy—we lower their risk threshold. They become more comfortable because we can demonstrate know them, and we make it easy for them to buy from us.
Know Specifically What All The Players NeedHow do your services intersect with the players’ needs? Get clear early and let the people understand this synergy. Chances are, when they think about meeting these needs or solving these particular problems, you’ll be top of mind. Once you have determined who you want to work with:
- Get clear about how your services solve their problems
- Get in front of the layers of influencers and decision-makers and let them see your commitment to being in this sector
- Reinforce your brand, and be seen as a subject matter expert
- Build trust
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.