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Winning in the Federal Marketplace: Does the Incumbent Still Have the Advantage?

businessman-signing-contract

Time was when incumbents nearly always won the day in the federal marketplace. Typically, service contracts repeat themselves at the end of a 3–5 year contract period, and, despite the incumbent’s inherent advantage, federal agencies allow these contractors to bid on the repeat contract. I can’t give you the exact statistic, but I have been paying attention, and I estimate that it used to be that over 90 percent of incumbent contractors were successful in winning the contract again… and again.

It used to be that unless your Competitive Analysis (CA) was indicating that the incumbent was underperforming or had fallen out of favor for some other reason, submitting a bid was close to an exercise in futility. Government agencies used to view the transition from one contractor to another as costly and full of risk; therefore, come rebid time, the incumbent was more than likely to capture — again. Unfair? Maybe. But when you play in the government’s sandbox, they make the rules. You can take your pail and shovel and go home, or stick around and learn how to play the game when you are not the incumbent.

Today, incumbents have a very large target on their backs. Where at one time their past history with the federal agency was nothing but an advantage, in many ways, that’s changed. For one thing, incumbents have established price and performance expectations with the customer that may not be viable anymore. The incumbent’s numbers may have changed, yet the customer nevertheless expects the same pricing structure. Regardless, incumbents are often stuck with the structure and approach they’ve always used and may be penalized when they try to convert it to one that is more efficient and cost-effective now.

Another disadvantage the incumbent may have is that, at the end of the day, they know too much. You’ve probably heard the adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” If you believe that, you’ll understand when I mean when I tell you that, in the federal marketplace, a lot of knowledge is an even more dangerous thing.

Translation?

Anyone who’s been around the block even once in the federal contracting world knows that nothing is more important than 1. understanding what a solicitation’s requirements actually are, and 2. addressing them in meticulous detail. However, when an incumbent reads a new proposal from a contractor for whom they have worked — especially on the same contract — they often “read between the lines” rather than focus on what the solicitation is actually asking for. And that’s a big mistake.

Certainly, leveraging CA and your own intuition about the customer and their solicitation makes sense, but only up to a point. When you have knowledge about a customer that you have gained from experience, even if it’s not germane to the solicitation at hand, it can be difficult NOT to think you know more than the customer does about what they want. Thinking you understand what the customer really, really, REALLY wants more than they do is the beginning of the end.

Bottom line? If you’re a non-incumbent, you have a better shot at winning than you used to… especially if you follow a few basic rules that will amplify your advantages:

  1. Understand in detail what the solicitation requirements are. Whether you’re the incumbent or not, you need to understand what represents the most value to the customer. That said, as a non-incumbent, you have the advantage of viewing a solicitation with fresh eyes, making you more likely to focus on what’s actually being requested, and that’s a big plus. 
  2. Understand how the evaluation process will be performed. Do your homework so you can understand the process the decision-makers are likely to use as well as any bias that the people doing the evaluation may have. Address these, but make absolutely certain your response sticks to the requirements as written and that you adhere scrupulously to the eval process.
  3. Create a solution. Your solution needs to be minimally compliant with the requirements defined at a price point that is competitive with where you believe the incumbent will be in the competition. This is no time to show off. Don’t provide too much value. You don’t want to be kicked to the curb because your solution is either too expensive or not achievable.

Finally, capture strategies are very much based on “What have you done for me lately?” Incumbents tend to think that the customer is more invested in their future working relationship with them than they probably are. It’s a mistake to think that a customer you’re currently working with really, really, REALLY wants to keep you and will do so at all costs. After 30 years in the federal marketplace, I can tell you that if someone else builds a better mousetrap and/or at a lower price point, most customers are all over it, which is good news for the non-incumbent.

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Understanding Your Customer’s Budget

Businesswoman calculating customers budget

Can you afford NOT to know what your customer can afford?

Your company has products and services to offer, and you have identified a customer who needs them (or something like them) and plans to procure them (competitively, of course).  But the question is– what can they afford?  This is a simple question, but one that is all too often neglected by capture teams too focused on the features and benefits of their solutions to recognize how costly they’ve become.  Never mind the competition (for now). Start with understanding your customer– in particular, your customer’s budget.  What happens when you design a product that your customer can’t afford?  Answer: You either discount it heavily and take a loss, or it sits on the shelf and you eat the entire cost of designing it.

Every customer has a budget–this much should be obvious– and it behooves every capture manager to endeavor to understand that budget.  But how?  Here’s a great place to start … ASK!  That’s right.  If you have meetings with the customers, ask them what their budget is for the program. If you don’t have meetings with the customers, pick up the phone or send an email and ask them.  They may not know, or they may not be willing to share that information with you.  If that option fails, or if it isn’t an option at all, don’t despair! There are several other ways of assessing your customer’s budget.

In the case of government agencies, budgets are formed through a lengthy (typically year-long) approval process, and in most cases, finalized budgets are published and available for download.  These budgets do tend to be high-level and therefore may not provide detailed budget data for your individual program (unless it’s a large or high-priority program). It’s always worth checking, and a savvy analyst can usually look at historical spending and make some reasonable assumptions to project what the program budget will be as a percentage of the high-level budget. This is obviously more challenging in the commercial space, where customers do not typically publish budget data, but even there you may be able to determine what they have paid for similar goods and services in the past and make some projections based on that data.

Once you’ve developed an estimate of the customer’s overall budget for a program, you’re not done yet.  Typically, program budgets must also cover certain expenses related to running the procurement and the program office itself (i.e., “keeping the lights on”). This represents what we call “holdback” or “management reserve.”  When you subtract this reserve from the overall budget, what remains is called “contractor addressable budget” or simply “addressable budget.”  THIS addressable budget is the figure you need to understand in order to ensure your solution is affordable.

Determining holdback can be tricky. Sometimes, customers publish their program office expenses in their budget documents, but not always. Otherwise, find someone knowledgeable about the customer (perhaps a former government employee or contracting officer) who can comment on standard practices, or make some logical assumptions and move on (don’t get stuck in the weeds!)

Finally, keep in mind that budgets change. The annual budget requests are just that:  requests. They present a snapshot of what the customer expects to spend on a program at one point in time, but that can (and often does) change. So it’s imperative to maintain good customer intimacy and listen carefully to what the customer is saying, watching for signs that either the budget, or the customer’s definition of value, may be shifting.

For more information on customer funding analysis, Competitive Intelligence, or Price To Win, contact Richter & Company.

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Category Management—Streamlining Government Acquisitions

Business category report

We all know federal contracting can be a bit disorganized. Between delays, duplicate contracts, and a tedious process, at times, we are all left scratching our heads, thinking, “There has to be a better way to do this!” That is where category management comes in. The Federal Government has made a push for agencies to begin categorizing their procurement efforts to do their best to prevent contracting issues.

What is category management? Category management enables a government agency to categorize buying groups. By creating these groups, the agencies can eliminate redundancies, increase efficiency, and deliver more value and savings from the government acquisition programs. The keys to the success of category management are to identify core areas of spending, collectively developing levels of expertise, leverage shared best practices to provide acquisition, supply, and demand management solutions. In short, by categorizing acquisitions to deliver more savings, value, and efficiencies to federal agencies.

It is a relatively newer process being implemented by the Department of Defense to buy goods and services. The Army began utilizing this approach in 2019. They created 19 categories, 10 of which are profession and service focused, and the other nine are related to weapons and ammunition, electronic and communication equipment, and R&D focused. By grouping buying efforts in similar categories, the Army can use the data for other procurements in its category to make better decisions when it comes to consolidating contracts negotiating price and what the state of the industrial base they are looking into. Category management is not only making the process more repeatable and efficient. It is saving valuable time and money. The Army alone saved $1.2 billion or 9% in 2019, and they are looking to save an additional 5% in 2020. Category management is being utilized across the Department of Defense. The Air Force has also saved $1.5 billion by using this approach.

What does this mean for us in the industry? It is quite simple; contracts are going to become more organized and repeatable. That means researching contracts and understanding the category they are coming out of will give us more insight into what the customer is looking for, their requirements, and budget. Not only is the category management approach giving the customer more data to understand the industry, it is also giving us in industry data to understand the customer.

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Competitive Analysis Leads to a More Successful Price to Win

Businessmen discussing an analysis

“It is wiser to find out than to suppose”. – Mark Twain

Many organizations and capture leaders understand and appreciate the value of Price to Win analysis in enhancing Pwin. Unfortunately, some view Price to Win as a standalone activity that does not require Competitive Analysis to support it. For those who are not familiar with Price to Win, it is more than a number; it reflects the complex relationship between customer needs and budgets and bidder solutions and strategies. It represents a tradeoff between price and capability that forms the foundation for successful bid strategies.

Therefore, Price to Win is based on data and assumptions about the customer and the competitors. So where does that data come from if not from Competitive Analysis? Oftentimes, capture teams believe they already have all the answers thanks to their years of experience in a given market– but this often leads to a rude awakening when they lose to a surprise competitor or an unexpected strategy. There are questions that must be answered– questions as simple as:

  • Who is the customer (decision-makers AND influencers), and what are their hot buttons?
  • Who are the competitors?
  • What are the competitors’ capabilities? solutions? strategies? discriminators? strengths and weaknesses?

There are also more complex questions that are more specific to a Price to Win– questions such as:

  • How will the customer calculate the total evaluated price?
  • What are the competitors’ cost structures?
  • How do competitors plan to bid in terms of teammates, locations, and aggressiveness?
  • What component pricing data is publicly available to help develop the bottom-up cost estimate?

These are all questions that Competitive Analysis can help answer, and as Mark Twain said, “It is wiser to find out than to suppose.” Early engagement in the procurement process allows more time to gather competitive intelligence and identify additional questions that can further increase win probability.

Competitive Analysis allows an understanding of customer requirements and the ability to craft solutions that beat the competition. This allows for an independent assessment of the competitors’ capabilities, strategies, and potential solutions.

As organizations approach Price to Win, it is important to remember that price is NOT simply cost + profit, as most tend to think of it. More accurately, price = cost + strategy. This makes Competitive Analysis the other strategic half of a successful Price to Win process. It is nearly impossible to develop the optimum strategy to position your solution without both.

For more information about Competitive Analysis or Price to Win, contact Richter & Company, and we’ll be happy to help you take the guesswork out of a potentially winning solution.

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Other Transactional Agreements – Something the Federal Government Can Agree On

Businessmen making a transactional agreement

Even though Other Transactional Agreements, “OTAs,” have been around for decades, they have gained popularity in the last few years. A big driver was the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, which permanently allowed for DoD, military construction, and the national security programs of DoE to award OTA contracts for research, prototype, and production purposes. Ever since the NDAA passed in 2016, OTA headlines have appeared to pop up more frequently all over Government contracting news. There is something the Government can agree on: OTAs speed up the acquisition process by removing a lot of the red tape of traditional procurement.

Why have OTAs increased in popularity? It is quite simple; our armed forces are undergoing a sizeable modernization effort. As warfighting strategies change and our adversaries have more access to modern technology, we needed to transform the assets of our armed forces. The Army even created a new Program Executive Office (PEO), Army Futures Command, to solely focus their modernization efforts. The Army alone accounts for 63% of OTA contracting dollars since 2016. The Army’s modernization efforts span from the Next Generation Squad Weapon, which will replace the current M4A1 and M249 squad automatic rifles, to the Future Vertical Lift Program, through which the Army is looking to replace its Blackhawk and various other helicopters with a modern solution.

OTAs have allowed for DoD to tap into the resources industry has to offer much faster. They are an excellent vehicle for prototyping new technology to modernize or replace a current vehicle, weapon, aircraft, etc., but they are not just for prototyping. OTAs can speed up the procurement of a non-developmental item to undergo testing and production at a much quicker pace. For example, the Army is looking to replace its current towed howitzers. The howitzers (M777A2) have not undergone any major redesign since their creation in 1999. The Army is looking to replace the M777A2 with a new, wheeled, self-propelled solution, but the Army is not requesting a prototype. The Army called for contractors to provide a non-developmental solution that is ready to be tested and fielded by troops. Instead of going through the standard RFP processes, the Army released the specs of what they are looking for industry to provide. Contractors then take those specs and propose their mature solution that best fits the Army’s needs. By using an OTA to procure a howitzer replacement, the Army could begin testing and integrating the modern alternative in months rather than years.

Over the next few years, we will see all kinds of new technology reaching our armed forces rapidly because of the efficiency of OTAs. The Government can agree that OTAs provides our troops with the best-modernized resources at a much faster rate.

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Virtual Black Hats — Five Success Factors

Group of business peopleThe COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us to adapt to new ways of doing business virtually. Many of us who previously looked askance at telework and virtual meetings have been forced to embrace them along with many now-familiar tools and platforms such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex.

But what about Black Hats? Can a Black Hat be conducted virtually? And if so, can it be done effectively? As someone who for years spoke out against the idea of a virtual Black Hat, I’m pleased to say the answer to both questions is YES! I’ve now had the privilege of organizing and facilitating multiple virtual competitor Black Hat sessions, with more to come, and I have found that the success of a virtual Black Hat depends on the following Five Critical Success Factors:

  1. Participants
  2. Preparation
  3. Facilitation
  4. Engagement
  5. Virtual Platform

The more experienced readers may notice that the first four of these success factors are pretty much the same as a standard in-person Black Hat — TRUE! However, there are some subtle differences that apply in a virtual context.

  1. Participant selection remains the most crucial success factor of any Black Hat, for the simple reason that the participants are the Black Hat. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations of a Black Hat represent the collective belief of the group. As in computing, so in Black Hats — “garbage in, garbage out.” Finding the right participants can be challenging, but the virtual setting can make it a little easier by removing the need to be local or able to travel.
Recommendation: Look for employees who are knowledgeable about the customer and/or the competitors, and willing to spend the time to share that knowledge over the course of a day or so. Remember to include employees of teammates (assuming a firm teaming agreement and NDA are in place), as well as outside consultants as necessary.
  1. Preparation refers to pre-Black Hat homework for the participants. This is important for the same reason that participant selection is important — because the more knowledgeable participants are, the more accurate their conclusions will be. So participants must be well-prepared, bringing not just their historical knowledge, but enhancing and refreshing that knowledge with up-to-date research.
Recommendation: Provide participants with read-ahead materials (on the opportunity, the customer, and the competitors) and urge them to augment it with their own independent research in advance of the Black Hat.
  1. Facilitation is just as crucial, if not more so, in a virtual setting as it is in-person. The facilitator is responsible for guiding the discussion by asking questions, capturing and clarifying responses, drawing out insights, and seeking consensus, all while quelling the inevitable “rabbit trail” discussion or capture team interjection. In a virtual Black Hat, the facilitator has the added burden of grappling with the technical elements of the meeting itself — in other words, setting up and operating the virtual platform and running the meeting.
Recommendation: Appoint or employ a skilled, strong, yet flexible facilitator with good listening skills and excellent communication and IT skills; conduct practice sessions ahead of time to test screen sharing and editing functions; consider delegating meeting logistics to a co-facilitator.
  1. Engagement of all participants has historically been a challenge for virtual meetings, where participants have the ability to mute cameras and microphones and “go dark,” but this is where the collective quarantine has helped us somewhat. With the in-person option eliminated, a switch has been flipped in most of our brains that says, “I have to make this work.” And since necessity is the mother of invention, we have adapted out of necessity. But disengaged or disinterested participants undermine even the most well-planned Black Hat, so organizers and facilitators must do everything they can to keep people engaged.
Recommendation: Encourage and incentivize active participation (webcams and mics unmuted), take frequent breaks, direct questions to specific people to keep them alert, and avoid “side-bar” discussions that exclude some participants and tempt them to “check-out.”
  1. The Virtual Platform is the one critical tool that separates a virtual Black Hat from a standard in-person Black Hat. Whether you use Zoom, Skype, Webex, or GoToMeeting (my personal favorite), the platform you choose must provide the basic functions of screen sharing for the facilitator, and audio for all participants. Quality is important, so participants should ensure good bandwidth and minimal background noise. Video for participants is optional, but can help people feel more connected and stay engaged.
    NOTE: Some organizations prefer to conduct Competitor Black Hats in multiple parallel “tracks” or “break-out sessions.” This admittedly is more complicated to do virtually, but not impossible, as some virtual meeting platforms (e.g., Zoom, GoToTraining) provide the ability to divide the team into smaller groups temporarily before coming back together as a large group. But using this feature has drawbacks, introducing more complexity and potential for confusion.
Recommendation: Research platform options to identify strengths and weaknesses and verify compatibility with company networks and systems. Thoroughly test well in advance of the Black Hat session; consider assessing competitors in serial instead of in parallel tracks for simplicity.

For more information about Virtual Black Hats or Virtual Black Hat Reviews, please contact us at Info@RichterAndCompany.com.

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Winning in the Federal Market Space: Advice from Randy Richter

Randy Richter, Chairman and Price to Win Director at Richter & Company, was a recent guest on episode 19 of Scribble Talk, a podcast that invites well-known industry veterans to share effective strategies for bidding on and capturing federal contracts. Richter was asked to talk about factors that had shaped the development of his Maryland-based small business that has helped its clients win more than $30 billion in new business since 2006.

Born in a self-described “blue-collar” Baltimore neighborhood, Richter told hosts Ashley Kayes and Baskar Sundaram that he originally planned on going to work at a Sparrows Point steel mill or at the Dundalk Marine Terminal. Instead, thanks to the early influence of his uncle, aka “Unc”, and the guidance of Scoutmaster Dave Hagen, Randy set his sights on something beyond the streets of East Baltimore. At the age of 11, he was working with “Unc” at a mobile home park, learning the basics of the building trades, the soft skills of salesmanship and negotiation, and a solid work ethic. Scoutmaster Hagen introduced him to lacrosse, a sport he parlayed into a full ride to Cornell University. This education, along with the guidance of these two mentors, changed Randy’s life and put him on the path to success in life, and eventually in business.

According to Richter, the company he founded in 2006 was a sole proprietorship with very modest goals. How then, asked co-hosts Kayes and Sundaram, was he able to build this enterprise into one of the best-known consulting firms on bidding strategy in the federal market space? Was Randy Richter a natural savant at proposal-writing out of the gate?

Absolutely not, he confessed. “In fact, the first proposal I was ever asked to write was a total failure,” he laughed. “I did everything wrong. I did no planning. I had no process. And I had no clue how important it was to learn who our customer was or what they cared about. I spent no time at all studying our competition to try to figure out what they might bring to the table. When it came time to present our bid, my team and I walked blithely into a buzz saw, carrying my sub-par proposal— and got crushed by another company who knew all the things we didn’t about our potential customer.”

Despite the immediate outcome, Richter says that experience was important in the long term because it opened his eyes to the importance of competitive intelligence.

“Failing so dramatically at my first foray into proposal-writing taught me one of the most important things a person can know about capturing a contract: it’s not about you and your company. It’s about them: your prospective client and your competition for their business. Collecting and analyzing information about those two entities, and then using that information to produce actionable intelligence, is the foundation for success in this business.”

Asked if Competitive Intelligence (CI) and Price to Win (PTW) work are the same, Richter said, “They are separate but integrally linked functions. You can’t do one without the other, but they are different. CI is the process of gathering and analyzing data on your competitors. PTW is using that data to build out the costing that your competitors are in a position to offer, and then designing a solution that beats that number while staying in line with your own business objectives and fulfilling your prospective customer’s goals.”

When asked about role models and influencers in his life, Richter again returned to “Unc” and Mr. Hagen, the two men who had given him the tools he needed to get the education that redirected this life. But when asked about “words of wisdom” that had guided his business philosophy, Richter called upon the chorus of the late, great Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler.

You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run.

(The Gambler lyrics©Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

According to Richter, it’s important to know when to walk away from a bid. In other words, he said, know when to “cut your losses so you can live to fight another day.”

“When I think about a Price to Win position, I always think about these lyrics,” said Richter. “A good Price to Win process is designed to respond to the government’s needs, and applies factors like gaming strategy, aggressiveness, fees, and corporate interest to identify the ‘price to win’ position. Never forget, however, that the Price to Win process also identifies the position your company needs to achieve to meet your business goals and objectives. It doesn’t always mean winning. You may want to position your company with your customers without actually winning the program. If the price you come up with doesn’t fit your corporate objectives and it allows you to capture the contract, it’s not a true win.”

To wrap up the hour-long interview, Richter answered the “What do you wish you had known in 2006 when you started your company” question with some final words of advice for all types of entrepreneurs.

“If you’re going to start a business, you need to embrace the concept of failure. You can’t take the safe route—which means you’re going to stumble and fall…often…but you have to keep risking it. Keep doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.”

“As entrepreneurs,” he concluded. “We’re like the old saying: the turtle never goes anywhere without sticking his neck out.”

“Keep sticking your neck out.”

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Three Things a Black Hat Is Not

The term “Black Hat” has become a well-known term in business development circles, particularly in the federal contracting world. Many capture and proposal teams regard these exercises as an important – if not crucial – tool in developing an effective capture strategy. Most of us know and agree – at least at a high level – that a Black Hat is an activity wherein participants role-play your competition with the goal of improving your own strategy and win.

Beyond that basic definition, variations abound, there are a few common mistakes to avoid. Here are three things a Black Hat is not:

First, a Black Hat is not a capture strategy session. This may seem counter-intuitive since the ultimate goal is to enhance the capture strategy. However, taking time during the Black Hat to strategize completely undermines the main focus of the exercise, which is to understand the competition – something that is woefully under-emphasized in many capture efforts. When facilitating Black Hats, I urge participants to avoid delving into too much discussion about how “we” are going to win. This is also why we caution against using members of the capture team in the Black Hat. A best practice to help avoid capture “rabbit holes” is to keep a running list of recommendations where you can quickly pin an idea, then come back to the list at the end of the day to flesh out those ideas.

Second, a Black Hat is not a box. Templates that are carefully vetted beforehand with various stakeholders can be very helpful for guiding the discussion and capturing important data and analysis during Black Hats. However, participants can sometimes slip into the mindset of just “filling the blanks.” If there is something important that needs to be discussed with regard to the competition, and there isn’t a slide or space where it seems to fit, then for goodness sake, make one! Never let a template imprison the discussion and limit the value of the activity.

Finally, a Black Hat is not a War Game (competition). Black Hats are often populated by BD folks, and we all know BD folks tend to be a rather competitive bunch. A common best practice for Black Hats is to split the group into separate teams, each focusing on one of the primary competitors – so naturally, these competitor teams (made up of BD folks) start to think their aim is to out-do the other teams. The problem with this is that it can lead to unrealistic competitor solutions. Sure, your competitor may want to cut their fee down to zero, but will their executives really approve of that? Or, they may want to take all the other competitors off the street by convincing them to sub, but how likely is that? Remember, the goal of the Black Hat is not to determine the worst-case scenario, but to determine the approaches and solutions competitors are most likely to employ.

For more information about Black Hats, or if you have any questions about our Competitive Intelligence or Price To Win services, please contact us at Info@RichterAndCompany.com.

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Organizational Change Management

How to keep your business moving in the face of organizational change and uncertainty

Whether it’s a Government shutdown, company re-structuring or consolidation through M&A, change can have a negative impact on your organization if the accompanying periods of uncertainty and downtime are not properly managed.

In business development, an environment filled with uncertainty can create a breeding ground for lost talent, new business and even a company’s core work – recompetes.  Employees haunted by the thought of layoffs, loss of productivity due to unknown budget allocations and operational stand stills resulting from a lack of direction are just a few examples of how change can have an adverse effect on your business if not addressed.

Here are a few guidelines and tips to consider when managing change within Business Development:

Understand the past

It takes both time and money to prepare a proposal, which is why every bid – win or loss – deserves a thorough post-award analysis and lessons learned to carry forward.

To ensure maximum utility of B&P dollars spent, it is important to understand the who, what, when, where, why and how behind every award. A comprehensive look at the past will help build this story.

1. Prepare win/loss analysis for every competitive bid awarded over past three years

  • Collect and document:
    • Contract details (type, primary NAICS and major elements of cost)
    • Basis of award (from Section M of the RFP to the customer award debrief)
    • Customer (from the highest level of budget authority down to the end user)
    • Competitors (from pre-submission assumptions to post-award knowns)
  • Analyze:
    • Technical (non-cost) scores vs awardee
    • Bid price vs award price
    • Proposal strengths and weaknesses identified on customer award debrief
  • Ask:
    • Was the actual award outcome consistent with Section M of RFP?
    • Did the customer award to the lowest price offer, highest technical rated offer or both – lowest price and highest technical offer?
    • Did we win/lose on price, technical or both?
    • How accurate was our pre-submission assessment of the competitive landscape? Did we model the competitors accurately? How competitive was our bid price?

Keep moving at present

Regardless of the circumstances, business development should never reach a dormant state. There is always work to be done.

To ensure maximum utility of future B&P spending, it is important to ensure that lessons learned from the past do not become lost in translation as an organization undergoes change. Understanding your past will help you thrive at present.

2. Complete deep dive assessment on past wins/losses

  • Collect and document:
    • All prior solicitation packages
    • Technical and pricing requirements
  • Analyze
    • For losses, reverse price engineer average bid rates
    • For wins, compare bid vs current FTE, personnel qualifications and salary
  • Ask:
    • For new business, can we compete against prior average bid rates?
    • For recompetes, to what extent have we deviated from our prior bid? Does the customer intend to adopt this deviation on recompete solicitation?

Prepare for the future

In business development, your opportunity pipeline is your lifeline. While some aspects may become hazy in times of change, there should never be complete lack of certainty with regards to what opportunities your organization will pursue.

Protecting your core work is critical and recompete efforts should be considered automatic to your pipeline and preparation should never cease to exist.

Use present momentum to refine and shape your pipeline around opportunities with the highest pwin.

3. Solidify new business opportunity pipeline using past and present takeaways

  • Use win/loss analysis to identify key customers, competitors, contract types and basis of award that proved most/least successful on past bids
  • Use deep dive assessments to determine if position has improved or worsened since the last bid to determine classification on pipeline

Conclusion

While there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to the specific actions an organization can take to effectively manage change, there is one overarching guideline that applies to all – keep moving.

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

– George Orwell, 1984

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Richter & Co. To Host Webinar on Gathering Trade Show Intelligence

competitive intelligence webinar On September 19th, 2018, Richter & Company will be hosting a webinar focusing on proper ways to gather competitive intelligence at trade shows/conferences. Led by our very own Brandon Conroy (pictured) and Chris Richter, we will be discussing how to identify information about your competitors that will help increase your probability of win on a given opportunity. If you are looking for ways to strengthen your strategy and approach, this webinar is for you. We will be discussing the art of conversing with others to obtain information – without alarming them that you are a competitor. Ethical and legal boundaries will also be addressed, as well as what to ask, who to ask, and how to ask! So, how do you put a plan and a team together to accomplish all of this? Join us on September 19th at 1pm to find out! If you would like more information, please feel free to give us a call at 301-845-7300!