In barbecue contests, timing is everything. Each of your four entries (chicken, ribs, pork and brisket) have to be turned in within 5 minutes of a precisely defined time; late entries are disqualified. To meet this schedule – and to make sure the meat you offer the judges is at its tender, juicy, and flavorful best – requires careful planning and flawless execution at the contest itself. But it’s the preparatory work done before the contest that separates winners from losers. Losers buy their meats the day before they travel; winners order meat ahead of time so it can be properly aged (30 days or more for brisket!) and prepped. Losers wait until they arrive in the competition’s town and pick up consumer-grade charcoal from a big box store; winners buy specialized charcoal and wood to match their team’s desired flavor profile. Losers work without a plan; winners develop and test complex checklists, schedules, and procedures so that their work onsite is efficient. To put it simply, winning takes time, and teams that start too late are not likely to hear their name called during the awards ceremony. Effective competitive analysis and Price To Win efforts start early – well before formal solicitation requirements are known. They follow consistent processes for gathering and analyzing competitive information. They rely on proven models for projecting solution costs and prices. They provide actionable intelligence that you can use to shape the opportunity, moving the competition away from lowest cost. Start early, keep working until the final turn-in.