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A Strong Knowledgebase

In the journey of competitive intelligence, it’s essential to have some kind of knowledgebase to store information.  This knowledgebase allows you to capture data, analyze historical trends and preposition information as you move into the future.  Here are a few characteristics of a strong knowledgebase: A strong knowledgebase is shared by your team.  Too often, there are no shared data points between coworkers.  One has a Rolodex of his references; another has an Excel file saved on her desktop.  The best knowledgebase is one that’s shared among coworkers so it’s robust and constantly updated.  In order for that to happen… A strong knowledgebase is accessible.  If your team can’t locate the knowledgebase or doesn’t know how to use it, the tool becomes worthless.  Train your team.  Let them know what goes into the knowledgebase, and what is expected from them for each program.  All of your people need to know how to enter information, and how to pull information out.  Make it easy for all of them to log in and enter information.  But most importantly, A strong knowledgebase is used.  Whether it’s a CRM tool, a sharepoint site or a specialized Excel tool, a strong knowledgebase is one that is used regularly.  Summaries and trends can be analyzed when there are many, many data points being entered into the knowledgebase.  Be sure to use your knowledgebase regularly to maximize its potential. Richter & Company’s knowledgebase includes some 80,000 contacts, and allows us to preposition data for every program.  Contact us today to find out how you can win more business.
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Proposal Writing: Feature versus Benefit

Often times when companies present their solutions before the government, they talk a lot about themselves.  When you’re thinking about themes, working a brainstorm session with your team, or actually writing your proposal, be sure that you’re focused on your customer. Features are attributes of your solution.  Be it products or services, features are those things that can differentiate you from the competition:  lower cost, smaller size, more power, larger supply base, extended life. Even great features can be meaningless in a proposal, however, if you don’t highlight the value they bring to your customer.  Benefits highlight value. Your solution is lower cost.  If your customer is looking to spend big money, your feature is meaningless.  But in a difficult economy, where maximum value means getting more bang for your buck, low cost is a huge benefit. Base your features around your customer’s needs and wants, and they become benefits.  Once you can prove the benefit of your solution, you’re well on your way to winning!
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Finishing Strong: 3 Habits of Winning Teams

Winning federal business dollars is cutthroat business.   Especially in today’s hypercompetitive marketplace where LPTA contracts now represent a third of contract awards, and large ID/IQ vehicles reign for maximum value to the government. Winning teams work hard to win.  And many differentiate themselves from the competition in how they handle a contract post-award.  Here are three habits of highly effective teams:

1.        FOIA Bids.  The Freedom of Information Act is a wonderful thing, but few companies actually take advantage of available information.  FOIA your own company and bids, and make sure they’re redacted properly.  Check out your competition on contracts; find out what they’ve redacted.  And what they haven’t.  FOIA requests are generally long lead items, but they can provide wonderful information.  More data points equates to better analyses which equates to better strategies which equates to winning more business.

2.       Do a “Lessons Learned” Session.  Win or lose, it’s critical that you leverage information to preposition for other bids.  Attend the outbrief; find out what the Government has to say about the award.  Pull your team together, and discuss key takeaways.  Document internal processes that worked, and those that didn’t.  The more cohesive your team is, the more effectively you’ll work, and the more business you’ll win.

3.       Begin preparing for the recompete.  What is proposed is not always what is delivered.  Winning teams know that their performance matters.  From Day 1 of the contract start, they’re aware that they’re building the story for their next proposal.  They work to deliver what they proposed, have strong communication with their customers and are able to use each contract as a positive reference.

Are there other post-award habits of winning teams you would add to this list? About Richter & Company Richter & Company is an industry leading competitive intelligence consulting firm whose services have helped clients win more than $30B in new revenue since 2006.  Please visit www.richterandco.wpengine.com for more information.
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Richter & Company Speaks on Porter’s 5 Forces

October 24, 2014 – Richter & Company will be featured at the APMP California Chapter Training Day on Friday, October 24, 2014.  Randy Richter, President & Founder of Richter & Company, will be presenting, “Using Porter’s 5 Forces to Hit the Target.” The 11th Annual Training Day, “Aiming for a High Target,” will take place in the Mark Twain Room of the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.  The event will feature presentations designed to give professionals the opportunity to build new skills, learn new perspectives, benchmark processes and network with peers. “Porter’s 5 Forces model can be an extremely effective tool,” said Richter.  “Next week’s presentation will provide information regarding Price to Compete as actionable intelligence.” The APMP California Chapter Training Day will be held Friday, October 24th at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.  For a copy of the presentation, contact us. About APMP The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) was created to allow members to connect and collaborate as part of the foremost online networking community in the capture and proposal development industry.  Please visit www.apmp.org for more information. About Richter & Company Richter & Company is an industry-leading competitive intelligence consulting firm whose services have helped clients win more than $60B in new revenue since 2006.  Please visit www.richterandco.wpengine.com for more information.
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Richter & Company Presents at APMP SPAC

October 24, 2014- Chris Richter, Vice President of Operations, will be a featured speaker at the 18th annual Southern Proposal Accents Conference (SPAC) in Atlanta on Friday, October 24, 2014. The conference, “Proposal Jackpot 2014:  When Winning is the Only Option” is designed to offer insight for proposal, bid, tender, capture, business development and graphics professionals.  Richter will be delivering a presentation entitled, “It’s Not About the Flop Buddy:  The Importance of Price to Compete.” “Historic trends can often indicate the government’s likely award price, and offer insight to contractors,” said Richter.  “Next week’s presentation will provide information regarding the ‘Price to Compete’ as actionable intelligence.” The Southern Proposal Accents Conference will be held October 24th at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.  For a copy of the presentation, contact us. About APMP The Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) was created to allow members to connect and collaborate as part of the foremost online networking community in the capture and proposal development industry.  Please visit www.apmp.org for more information. About Richter & Company Richter & Company is an industry-leading competitive intelligence consulting firm whose services have helped clients win more than $60B in new revenue since 2006.  Please visit www.richterandco.wpengine.com for more information.
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KITs and KIQs: Shaping the Process

Key Important Topics (KITs) and Key Important Questions (KIQs) are essential to shaping the context of research for your competitive intelligence and Price to Win efforts. When researching a program, it’s important to narrow the focus of what you’re looking for.  What topics need to be addressed?  What questions does your team need answered?  The “team” includes members of your business development, capture, solution development and pricing teams. The questions should be designed to provide actionable intelligence.  Who needs to be addressed in the proposal?  What solutions is the government predisposed toward?  What trends have been affecting their buying?  Distributing these topics and questions keeps your team focused on information that matters the most to your proposal efforts. The Richter & Company team brings a set of standard KIQs to each research effort, but also includes specific questions provided from the team to ensure that the team is prepared to address the government.  For more information on helping your team win, contact Richter & Company today.
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Market Trends: All About Efficiency

In every realm of the marketplace, the Federal Government is looking to be more efficient and save dollars where possible. In the service industry, efficiency looks like less people doing more.  Lower FTE counts, higher expectations for productivity.  Strategic use of less experienced workers where possible and reduction in fringe benefits decreases overall cost to the government. In the product industry, efficiency takes many forms.  In 2012, the Federal government mandated that all agencies move three services to the cloud by May 2012, to improve server utilization 60 to 70 percent.  SWaP initiatives across the armed forces mean reduced power consumption.  Plug and play initiatives across the product industry have assured that as technology becomes increasingly commoditized, the government keeps its options open for low cost solutions. In the age of attempted government transparency, efficiency reigns supreme in federal contracting.  It’s no longer just the Government Accountability Office, but every taxpayer with an internet connection,  who is eager to hold the government responsible for every dollar it spends.
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Avoiding Proposal Mistakes

In an effort to spread the love this Valentine’s Day, we bring you five mistakes of proposals.  In the federal contracting world, of course. Ignoring the person your proposal is for.  Talk about what your customer needs and wants.  Be in tune with their requirements, both explicit and implicit.  Spend some time getting to know what exactly they’re looking for with the solicitation.  And then speak to that, not what your corporate objectives entail. Not getting permission beforehand.  If you don’t have early management, buy-in, you’re going to have a hard time getting the time and dollars you need to win business.  Communicate about everything:  schedules, resources, B&P dollars.  Get management, capture teams and consultants like Richter & Company involved early in the opportunity lifecycle. Talking about yourself.  Watch the number of times you mention yourself compared to your customer.  Don’t talk about yourself, your capabilities, and your solution the whole time.  Speak to the benefits of your solution from the customer’s standpoint, rather than the features your company offers. Being late.  If you can’t be on time with your proposal submission, don’t even bother. Making promises you can’t (or don’t intend to) deliver.  Whatever your proposal entails, be sure that you can deliver.  Terminations and off-ramps are crippling to your business, and in a hyper-competitive marketplace, you can be sure someone else will step in to deliver what you couldn’t.  If you propose it, do it.
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The Snow Storms of Capture

With snow and ice storms impacting much of the country this week, we’re reminded that preparing for bad weather is a lot like preparing for capture of new business within the federal marketspace.  Here’s our top five bits of advice for handling either. IMG_8820 1-      Prepare ahead of time.  You never want to face the storm without the proper resources.  For bad weather, tradition holds you need to stock up on bread, milk and TP.  In the contracting world, it’s all about people.  Make sure you have the right people tasked to the right assignments.  Give them the resources they need to succeed, and be involved throughout as a manager.  In either case, if you wait until last minute, you’re not going to get what you need. 2-     Don’t rely on the forecast.  Forecasts can be helpful, but don’t rely too heavily on them.  When you know a solicitation is on the horizon, be prepared.  Don’t be blindsided by an early, or late, release, or changing requirements in a solicitation.  Do your own research, talk to a lot of people, and make your own decisions.  Along with that, 3-     Be flexible.  Contract releases, like storm patterns, tend to change over time.  The closer they get, the more difficult they are to grasp.  You must be willing to change and adapt to the changing dates and needs the government presents. 4-     Trust your people.  Somehow roads get cleared and power lines get restored when everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to and working as a team.  Trust your pricing people to do pricing, your proposal people to write proposals.  Work with trusted consultants like Richter & Company for your independent competitive assessment and price to win needs.  Hold your people accountable, and know that there’s a trust factor involved.  Encourage working together as a team, and be available for assisting in any realm you’re needed. 5-     Responsibility ultimately rests on you.  You can blame snow, sleet, ice and the declining skills of the contracting community, but ultimately your fate rests on you.  How you plan for and respond to your circumstances determines how well you’ll fare in any storm.
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An Ethical Culture of Gathering Intelligence: We Never Cross the Line

With conflict of interest issues as a growing concern within the federal contracting community, it’s important that your consultants don’t pollute your ethical processes.  With a shrinking number of federal procurements and budget dollars at play, it is critical that you play it safe in the realm of business ethics. More RFPs mention conflict of interest and more protests equate to more headaches and possible legal repercussions if you’re not careful. At Richter & Company, we never cross the line.  We don’t involve ourselves in your solutions, strategies or proposal processes.  We don’t access information you’ve collected, instead opting to use open source, publicly available information for all of our projects so that we’re never at risk for reusing or recycling proprietary company information.  And we work on an opportunity exclusive basis, supporting only one client per program, so there’s no risk of overlap and no need to firewall information for a specific program. Richter & Company offers a variety of services:  competitive analysis, price to win and training courses.  But none that put us in a position of ethical uncertainty.  Instead, we’ve paired with a consortium of consultants who can help meet all of your business development needs.  Contact Richter & Company for more information regarding our services to help you win more business.