Business Development Blog

After Award Debrief as a Tool for Winning Proposals

You submitted your proposal, and then waited anxiously to hear whether you won or lost. You had your hopes up, and maybe got exactly what you were wishing for: the contract is awarded to your company. You have millions of things to take care of since you now need to start up the program. You may not even have enough time to plan your win party because you are so busy. Or, maybe you have lost and are thoroughly disappointed. After all, you have given it your best, spent scarce resources and sleepless nights, and witnessed heroic efforts from your entire team putting the proposal together. Whether you won or lost, however, you cannot consider your proposal effort complete until you have asked the government for a debrief. You are bound to win a lot more proposals if you consider lessons learned after each pursuit to improve your proposal management process, your knowledge of your customers, and your offers.

What does aerobatics have to do with business development organizations?

I used to be so scared of flying that I would sit on a plane and breathe in a bag to deal with an anxiety attack. I forced myself to travel for business, but each flight was such a high-stress event that I would feel depleted, as if I had run a marathon. I felt as if I had to hold the plane in the air by sheer willpower the entire flight.

Techniques and News: How to dominate IDIQ’s competition and Minority contracts threats

Workshop in 1.5 weeks: Foundations of Federal Business Development. September 11, 2012, 9.00am-5:00pm, Rockville, MD. Gain understanding of the Federal Business Development (BD) lifecycle, and learn how to navigate the U.S. Government marketplace, perform strategic BD planning, market analysis, federal marketing, pipeline development, opportunity qualification, and maximize your Pwin. Only 4 seats left:

How to succeed in the current resource-strapped environment?

Have you ever noticed that even when companies know ahead of time about an RFP (when it will get released and what the subject matter will consist of), often times they are still not ready when it drops? The current state of the economy is forcing us to reduce the amount of resources we can engage for each effort, creating an environment that makes it difficult to deliver winning proposals. We have to perform like Olympic athletes, winning against the competitors breathing down our necks, and rely on uncanny endurance to last through those 16-hour workdays. Michael Phelps said that “You can't put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get.” Visualizing victory will help us push the limits of what’s possible. We have to always remember that we are here to get that contract, and not just throw together a compliant proposal by the deadline.

Government is relying on IDIQs more than ever

Change is nothing new in our industry. For many of us, it is a constant reminder that the government is always trying to improve their processes and save money. IDIQs have been around for years and anyone that has worked a few proposals has heard the term and the horror stories that remain in the wake of a company working one. IDIQs are like a distant rich relative – we want the spoils that they can bring but do not want to deal with the hardships that must be endured.

Three major problems with business development

Many of our clients shared with us their frustration with their current state of business development (BD). They either weren't growing fast enough because they weren't bidding on enough projects that were in their sweet spot, or they had wasted money going after poorly qualified opportunities that they had no chance of winning. All of these were symptoms of a broken BD process. To add an insult to an injury, majority of them had a bad experience with their business development service provider (either an employee or a consultant).

Proposal Mastery: Affecting Proposal Outcomes through Content and Leadership

What separates outstanding proposal managers from mediocre ones is the ability to lead their teams in developing winning content on top of running a smooth process. No matter how compliant and attractive the document may be, most often it is the substance that will distinguish a winning proposal from the rest. Many proposal managers rely on Subject Matter Experts (SME) to create the substance, but most SMEs require guidance, facilitation, and significant rewrites in order to produce something innovative and compelling. Rarely is a proposal team blessed with a solution architect who can guide the SMEs. In the majority of cases, a truly top-flight proposal manager steps up to become that solution architect, to ensure that their proposal content shines.

Win Themes Development Techniques

1. In the capture phase, win themes are a first step in defining win strategy (and not the other way around). They help create customer messages to position the company; identify competitive advantages; and document the real reasons the company will win. 2. During the proposal, the win themes focus the proposal team’s writing on the benefits to the customer – providing an even bigger advantage if your competition has not taken the time to spell out their own value proposition. 3. During evaluation, inserting your win themes in different forms throughout the proposal helps the customer remember the key benefits of your solution, and answers the evaluator's question: "Why should we select your company?” They also help your customer draft an award justification.

How To Manage Proposal Consultant Costs

Consultants often get the blame for high proposal costs because their fees are an obvious big-ticket item. Many business developers tell me, however, that when they tally up the proposal costs at the end of the proposal effort, it is not the consultants that blow the budget. Surprisingly, it’s the in-house employee costs that take them way over the plan. Either way, there are three solutions that business developers can adopt to keep proposal costs under control – solutions I am going to discuss below.

Avoiding Business Development Budgeting Pitfalls and Proposal Cost Cutting Blunders

As a proposal manager getting a proposal plan approved, I always found it difficult to get my management to approve a budget that was based on 40-hour weeks for employees and 50, 60, or even 70-hour weeks for consultants. It just didn’t look good: a consultant often cost more per hour than an employee, and got paid for every hour worked to boot. Yet, I managed to stay on budget and win. I would like to share how I did it with you.

Traditional Capture is Wasteful – Long Live Capture-less Proposals?

We all hate being wasteful. I gather this is why some people feel that they don’t really want to spend money on pursuits until they get to a real battle – the proposal. They avoid pre-proposal work or capture, thinking that it’s there for those with bigger budgets and deeper pockets. After all, who has time or money anymore for lengthy brainstorming meetings, large Black Hats, proposal development before an RFP ever hits (so you get to rewrite the sections almost from scratch when the RFP is out and your SMEs really focus on the problem), or composing lengthy PowerPoints for your management to feel comfortable.

Redefining Proposal Professionals as a Warrior Class?

Should proposal professionals redefine the way they think about themselves? Eric Gregory of CACI, Inc., delivered a keynote address at the APMP International Conference that caused some serious audience buzz at the follow-on networking session. He somberly stated that proposal professionals are different from the “normal” folk: we are warriors, the vanguard, the point of the spear, pioneers, adventurers, the legion, the cavalry…

How Much Do Consultants Charge?

Let’s talk about the sensitive topic, proposal consultant prices. I don’t think I am revealing any trade secrets here. How much proposal consultants charge varies from individual to individual, and can range between $60 an hour on the low end to $250 an hour and up on the high end.

When Do You Need a Proposal Consultant?

A business owner has two options when engaging consultants: they can either outsource the proposal work entirely, or have consultants augment your business development team. Typically, there are severaltypes of situations when you should hire proposal consultants:

Capture Management: The Right Way Of Gathering Intelligence

Intelligence gathering permeates every capture activity. It not only overlaps with the first capture aspect—knowing your customer—but is part and parcel of everything that drives capture – since the best informed wins! Basically, Intelligence Gathering is research and detective work—you painstakingly collect little pieces of the puzzle and put together as complete of a picture as you can to make good decisions. As you learn about the opportunity and the customer, you will get into a full-blown intelligence gathering process that has multiple dimensions and involves a slew of information sources.

Win strategy for your proposal

A win strategy is a simple set of bulleted statements outlining how you will win the targeted bid, which leads to a comprehensive plan that prepares you to finish on top. It looks at all aspects of the opportunity, and leaves no stone unturned.