A key way to ensure corporate growth is knowing which opportunities to pursue and which to leave behind. When faced with a bid decision, you often have several viable opportunities on your plate. These opportunities must be evaluated quickly to guarantee valuable response time isn’t eaten up by delayed decision making. To help you make quicker bid decisions, here are five key questions to ask yourself:
Ask Yourself These Questions Before You Make a Bid Decision
1. How well do you know your customer?
Do you understand the customer’s environment, challenges, preferences, and goals? Do you know them well enough to represent your understanding of them prior to each major section of the RFP? While knowing all facets of a customer is not necessary for every proposal – especially smaller quick-turn task orders – having “some” knowledge or experience with the customer will help you prepare your proposal. Companies run a large risk if they present generic solutions or approaches that are not mapped to actual customer challenges or goals.
Example: If you were interested in building a deck and sent out generic requirements to various contractors, only those contractors who have actual knowledge of your needs will be able to customize the deck to meet your specifications. Other contractors, without that knowledge, may propose a deck that is completely different than what you are really looking for.
2. How well does the customer know you?
Does the customer know you and your company? Do they trust you? Having customer intimacy is very important for positioning yourself for strategic opportunities – government agencies buy from companies and individuals they know, like, and trust. While building awareness is an important first step for a capture pursuit, building the relationship is the key to increasing your likelihood of winning business. You may decide to ignore this step for smaller, quick-turn task orders (which is fine), but before you respond to any large or strategic RFP, ask yourself how well the buying agency knows, likes, and trusts you.
3. Have you evaluated yourself?
Can you identify distinct discriminators for each evaluation criteria? Each discriminator should have a specific metric value and a prior past performance (i.e. We improved operating efficiency by 10%, we transitioned a project 10 days ahead of schedule…). If that is too time consuming for decision making purposes, what is your overall “secret sauce” for the proposal (i.e. incumbent teaming partner, key personnel, key solution)? Not every company has the luxury of facilitating win theme sessions where you identify 3-5 discriminators for each evaluation criteria. Without those win themes, companies should still have some “secret sauce” that distinguishes them from the competition. Note: It should be something unique to your company and should speak directly to what is important to the customer.
4. How does this opportunity fit in your overall strategic growth plan?
Is this agency a targeted account within your strategic account plan? If not, then what compelling reason do you have to pursue this opportunity? (Being able to meet the SOW is not enough!) Here, we encourage companies to document a strategic plan each year that identifies revenue goals, strategic opportunities, key customers, account plans and overall growth targets. When shared with the company, this plan guides the leadership and allows employees to make smart, focused decisions. If you come across an opportunity that is completely outside of what your plan indicates, stick with your plan and no-bid! Companies have too few resources, limited budget, and no time to chase unqualified or unexpected opportunities.
5. How have you prepared for this opportunity?
Upon final RFP release, is 90% of capture complete? This includes the team, understanding of the competition, customer call plan, and documentation of win strategies. Simply put, responding to RFPs without any strategy or capture performed equates to a lower probability of a win. A strategy used to win one competition will not translate to a winning strategy for every competition. Take the time to determine the strategy to win and prepare your capture as far in advance as possible. If you cannot spend the time to prepare yourself for an opportunity pursuit, we suggest you no-bid the opportunity and move on to one that merits your undivided attention.