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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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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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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.
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Actionable Intelligence

In the past few months, there’s been increasing talk about “the internet of things” (IoT.)  Recently, Gartner estimated a $1.9 trillion market impact by 2020. And Cisco estimated that for every person in the world, there would be six smart devices (for a total of fifty billion connected devices) by the year 2020.   That’s a lot of information. But what will we do with all this information?  So what your lamp “knows” that it’s on at 3 PM each afternoon, and your thermostat “knows” to set itself at 72 degrees if it’s colder than 40 out?  The concept of these smart devices is that data points will be aggregated to identify trends and help reduce waste to help you function more efficiently.   It’s been said that IoT will usher in an age of prosperity. For years, we’ve been capable of capturing data.  But historically, there’s been very little in the way of processing those data points to create actual information.  And even less so to make that information into meaningful knowledge.  The lack of actionable intelligence has meant a plethora of worthless data points for both customers and providers.  The goal of IoT is to change all that. For the past eight years, Richter & Company has acted to aggregate information in the realm of the federal marketspace.  As your trusted provider of Competitive Analysis and Price to Win services, we have a significant knowledgebase and experienced consultants who work to identify trends and translate data points into meaningful knowledge to help you function more efficiently.  And ultimately, win more business. We gather intelligence outside of your internal business activity; conduct analysis and come up with results, news you can use.  The result?  Your dollars and time are spent more efficiently.  You end up with actionable intelligence, and can usher in prosperity as you win more business. For more information on winning business, contact Richter & Company today.
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The Pitfalls of Aimless Shopping

A week from Friday, people will wake up too early from their beds, bleary eyed and still full of too much tryptophan, to race to their cars for a few dollars in their pockets.  And that’s just with the latest DoD RFP release, let alone Black Friday shopping. Here’s some advice for, well, either situation. Make a Plan.  Be involved early.  Get to know your marketplace.  Get a hold of as much documentation as possible.  In the federal space, this means talking to your customer.  Influencing how the final RFP will look when it finally comes out, which is six months plus after the government told you it would be.  In the shopping space, save those ads. Save Your Time and Energy for The Accessible Stuff.  B&P dollars, like all wallets, have limitations.  Invest in programs you can and should win.  Don’t put your hat in the ring for every program “just because.”  Make sure the programs you’re bidding are programs you can and should win. Don’t Show Up Last Minute and Expect to Win Big.  If you show up after the stampedes of better seasoned people, don’t expect to win big.  Be it a big screen television, or a sole source contract, if you show up late, you might as well not show up at all. Go With a Trusted Partner.  Not with someone who will steal the goods out from under you.  You worked hard for that win.  In the federal space, Richter & Company can help you win.  Since 2006, we’ve helped our clients win more than $30 B in government contracts.  And we’ll be happy to help you again this holiday season.  Contact us for more information on winning business.
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Building a Snowball

Primary research is perhaps one of the most daunting aspects of the competitive intelligence process.  It involves gathering information firsthand, or actually talking to people.  Randy Richter, president and founder of Richter & Company, often compares the task of conducting primary research to gathering snowflakes. If you stand in the center of a field and are asked to examine a blizzard, it may seem an impossible task.  With thousands of snowflakes falling each second, it’s difficult to imagine that one is capable of gathering any kind of meaningful information regarding the composition of snow. If you stick your icy mittened hand out and begin to grasp at a single snowflake, you have but a single snowflake.  But if you gradually gather single snowflake by single snowflake, you will soon hold a snowball in your hand.  And that snowball will be a good representation of the makeup of snow:  it will be a sufficient amount of raw data that can be examined and assessed. In speaking with individuals regarding a specific program or opportunity, one conversation may not yield much.  As with gathering snowflakes, it is the sheer volume of the conversations that provides significant raw data that can be analyzed.  Once you have talked to some appropriate contacts, you can start to piece together an image of the competitive field:  the players, the solutions they’ll offer, and the general consensus regarding their capabilities.  You’ve built your snowball of competitive information