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Why That Last RFP Response Was Not a Good Idea.

Posted By Guy Timberlake, The American Small Business Coalition, LLC, Sunday, September 14, 2014
Updated: Monday, September 15, 2014

Why That Last RFP Response Was Not a Good Idea.

If the fear of having made the wrong choice during a purchase is Buyer's Remorse, what do you call the sense of foreboding that consumes companies who respond to solicitations with little or no competitive information? In this day and age of abundant open sources of information (especially in government contracting) I am perplexed at the number of unqualified bids submitted. For some companies, responses far outside of the competitive range is business as usual. For others the result is true shock when they don't win. Both results share a common theme. Lack of information or a failure to use it.

Then there is the conversation about debriefs, but that's another blog entry.

Did I mention the cost of pursuing government contracts continues to rise? Too many factors stand at the ready to gobble up your Bid & Proposal Budget and leave you on the sideline while other opportunities, possibly those more aligned to your capabilities, past performance and pricing, pass you by. Picture racing in the Indy 500 and running out of gas a few feet before the finish line being forced to watch another driver take the checkered flag. Yep, it can be like that and at the same time, somewhere a pit crew ends up unemployed, or was that a proposal manager?

The factors to which I refer are those commonly called out during the bid/no bid process your company uses. This is where you consider if some part of your core competencies and capabilities are a match for the customer based on the Statement of Work or Performance Work Statement. Obviously you validate the strength (or existence) of your relationship with the customer, your competitive standing, capacity, price-to-win and overall strategic value of the opportunity. What's that? Your company doesn't have a bid/no bid process? Hmm. Okay, then tell me how you decided to respond to that last RFP? What about the invitation you accepted to team with that company you met at the industry day conference? You did check to see how well they were positioned, right? No? Well you at least called a colleague to see about their reputation, right? So just what are the key considerations when you decide to spend time and money on a pursuit? I mean if you were buying a new home you would check out the neighborhood, review the crime log, drive through a few or ten times to get a feel for things and that's probably just the start. Why not the same or better due diligence when pursuing opportunities worth thousands, tens of thousands, millions or even billions of dollars?

Let me take a step back. Have you seen some of the Sources Sought Notices and Requests For Information coming over the fence lately? Some of these RFI's are every bit as involved as the actual RFP's that might (emphasis on the might) actually materialize. Some of them actually include ROM or CLIN pricing, team construct, technical approach, past performance and more. Decide you want to wait until the RFP comes out and not spend the time dumping time and money into a black hole? That might work, but then again let me tell you about agencies only sending the solicitations to those who responded, or just some of them? How would you know that? If you were reading the tea leaves, you probably would know this ahead of time.

That would require an established process for going after information that could help you make decisions. Are you up for that? Let me see if I can entice you. Having a process could quite possibly make you money! I'm not kidding. Using something as basic as a four-step process related to developing business and competitive intelligence can increase your odds of winning business, and decrease the costs associated with acquiring new business. So it can make you money and increase your profits potentially. That's good because Uncle Sam is not going to let you raise your prices to make more money, so it has to happen internally. It's an organizational efficiency thing.

Somewhere, my friends the organizational development coaches and trainers just fainted. See, I told you all I was listening!

Seriously though, if you've never read To Bid Or Not To Bid by Jay Herther or participated in some training that describes qualified leads, opportunities, pipelines and more, please do so before you get too far into you next opportunity. If you stay on your current course you will literally be flushing your hard-earned dollars and end up asking yourself 'Why?'.

If your current tactics for finding and winning government contracts (and subcontracts) are not producing, it's time to consider: 

Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors™

This program will change how you look for, look at and use Information and Relationships to support your business growth goals. This is why previous attendees recommend anyone of any experience level attend Ethical Stalking for Government Contractors™. Everyone, that is, except their competitors!

Access | Context | Exploit | Growth

Would you like to know more? Click here to call me or email me at Please click here to view my other blog articles.


The Chief Visionary

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it."

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