Business growth in the federal market does not happen by accident. Many companies grow to a certain point through hard, albeit, rather chaotic efforts. Many are stuck, however, at a certain size, and their ability to compete for new market share begins to shrink. We recommend that you implement proper strategies to grow aggressively in the federal market.

The first strategy is to employ a strategic business development planning process. There are a few techniques to run this process; but, essentially, all the key decision-makers in your company have to get together and answer the following questions:

    • Are you in the right market?

    • What is the market currently pursuing? What are the trends?

    • What is going on with your current customers, and what other customers should you pursue?

    • What competencies should you develop in addition to what you already do?

    • What growth strategies should you employ?

    • What are your financial goals for the year in sales and bookings?

    • How much should you bid on to achieve the goals you set?

    • If you are of a certain socioeconomic status, such as an 8(a) program, how will you avoid size triggers that will get you out of the program prematurely, and cause you to lose all the great benefits it provides?

    • What are some of the key pursuits in your pipeline you have to win to achieve your goals?

    • What is the budget to achieve your goals? Will this budget be enough?

Speaking of budgets, you need to determine how much you should bid on Government contracts annually and each month. Your first step is to determine a reasonable goal for your bookings by the end of the year. Bookings are money from your wins that you expect to receive from your customers based on signed contracts. Then, you need to determine how many bids you are going to submit to reach that goal. You can do this easily. Simply, take your year-end bookings goal and divide it by your win rate.

Your next step is to determine how many proposals you have to write to reach your goal. For example, if your goal is $20 Million for the year and your win rate is currently 33%, then this means you need to bid on $60 M in contracts to achieve your year-end goal. How many proposals you would have to write depends on the size of the efforts. Let’s say you have decided you’d rather bid on three RFPs worth $20 million, hoping to win one. You could also bid on six RFPs worth around $10 million each, hoping to win two. Another option is to increase your win rate by using professional services companies such as OST to augment your current staff (training, consulting, or simply business improvement).

Note that your past performance will also be a factor in your planning because the Government is unlikely to award you a contract with a dollar amount drastically higher than what you have performed in the past. If you have not managed a prime contract for more than $5 million, it is unlikely that you will get an award for a prime contract of $20 million or more. The exception is when you have done significant preparation to build a compelling case for a specific Government customer, and your competition’s past performance record turned out to be no better than yours.

Once you come up with an answer, you might want to look at your pipeline of opportunities and see if you can identify the bids that will make up your $60 million in the time frame that you have identified, or assign an action item to aggressively hunt for these opportunities and identify them within weeks of your strategic planning session (otherwise it will be too late).

In all your planning, you will have to take into consideration that there is a lag time for Government awards. Some awards take one to three months, especially as task orders on MACs. Others could take up to a year or two to award.

Depending on the specific opportunities, you might realize that you will have to bid on your $60 million worth of opportunities in the first two quarters of your fiscal year to hit the $20 million mark by year-end because you have to give the Government roughly six months to award. Just to be safe, you might want to submit even more bids, knowing that the Government almost never keeps to the schedules they set.

You will then figure out how many proposals you have to produce per month to get there. You will have to factor in your cost and capabilities when making your determination. How many projects can you handle at one time? How many resources can you commit to one project? How much money can you afford to commit to going ahead on multiple RFPs?

When planning your budget for pursuits, it is best to use a top-down method. Take the money you have committed to business development, or are willing to invest, and divide that by the number of pursuits you have to have. You should note that for small businesses that work for their staff around the clock and where the owners will invest a lot of their sweat equity, the cost of capture and proposal pursuit varies from 0.5 percent to 0.75 percent of the total booking value.

For example, if the value of a “one-year base and four-option years’ contract” is $10 million, the pursuit will run you about $50,000 to $75,000 from capture through proposal preparation. If that seems like a lot to you, you might want to translate this number into hours to understand the resources required from you. At roughly $100 per hour cost of resources—which is you and your employees with their overhead, fringe, and general and administrative (G&A) costs added on top of their hourly rates—you will spend about 500 to 750 hours per pursuit. That translates into two people working on a proposal for a month at 200 hours each, and a couple of hundred hours allocated to capture (which is a few months of part-time work). As you can see, although the amount of money seems high, it is not a lot of hours to play with to do a great job. You have to remember that you need to resource your proposals to win—not just to complete them.

Your math will be telling during your strategic business development planning session—where you will either adjust your goals, decide to shift resources or make additional investments. You also might want to continue to subcontract to others a little longer than you had hoped, to reduce your expenses, but do not use it as a crutch. It is usually better to be a prime.

Grow your company in the Government market with Part I of the Blueprint for Winning Government Contracts. These three modules cover the introduction to the Government market, how to develop a strategic plan, perform market research, find the opportunities in the Government market that fit your company, and the techniques to effectively market your company to the Government customers. Learn more at

P.S.: If you need Business Development, capture management, proposal management and writing, or onsite proposal training support using OST’s proprietary methodologies, contact us (301) 384-3350 or email [email protected]. We have supported 18 out of the top 20 Federal Contractors and have won $19 Billion for our clients not counting the IDIQ ceiling values. We are here to help you to solve your proposal resource problems in a pinch!

Best regards,

OST Global Solutions, Inc.
…Because There is No Second Place in Proposals! TM

Workshops and Seminars

Rockville, MD, or remotely via webcast. Don’t miss early bird registration pricing – it ends 3 weeks before each class. Register at

Date (2013) Class Name
June 3 FREE webinar: Top 10 Proposal Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them
June 4-5 Preparing Winning Multiple Award and Task Order Proposals
June 17 Proposal Win Themes Development Workshop
June 18-19 Foundations of Proposal Management
June 20-21 Foundations of Capture Management
June 24 Proposal Graphics Conceptualization and Design Workshop
June 25 Desktop Publishing for Proposal Professionals (Microsoft Word)
July 16-17 Developing a Winning Cost Volume
July 18-19 Advanced Proposal Management
Sept 10-11 Foundations of Proposal Management
Sept 12-13 Writing Persuasive Federal Proposals
Oct 7-8 Foundations of Federal Business Development
Oct 9-10 Foundations of Capture Management
Oct 22-23 Advanced Proposal Management
Oct 24-25 Advanced Capture Management
Nov 11 Proposal Win Themes Development Workshop
Nov 12-13 Developing a Winning Cost Volume
Nov 14-15 Preparing Winning Multiple Award and Task Order Proposals
Dec 3-4 Foundations of Proposal Management
Dec 5-6 Writing Persuasive Federal Proposals
Dec 9-10 Proposal Editing Workshop
Dec 11 Proposal Graphics Conceptualization and Design Workshop
Dec 12 Desktop Publishing for Proposal Professionals (Microsoft Word)

If you don’t find a class that suits your schedule, consider us for on-site corporate training at your company or for a webinar for your dispersed workforce if you have multiple locations.

Professional Proposal Tools and Self-Study Training

Order at

     • Blueprint for Winning Government Contracts
– Explains how to find opportunities, write winning proposals, and get multimillion-dollar contracts to grow your small business in the federal market.

     • Task Order Manual Template
– Reusable professional tool-set (electronic template) – instant download.

     • Executive Summary Secrets
– Self-study course (workbook and audio CD) to persuade evaluators to award the contract to you.

     • How to Succeed as a Proposal Consultant
– Tips to get more work, higher pay, and better clients – instant download.

     • A Proposal Manager’s Essential Checklists
– Reusable tool-set for consistently successful proposal management and coordination.

     • Proposal Resources Estimating Guide
– Guide for determining required manpower and hours to calculate how much a proposal should cost.

     • Six Strategies to Grow Aggressively in the Federal Market
– Video course explaining how to succeed and grow in the highly competitive federal contracting market.

Contact us to learn more.

(301) 384-3350

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