The most important goal of capture is to stack the deck in your favor. For now, forget about proving you are the best among the most awesome competitors by writing a winning proposal. Let’s think about how you can reduce the number of competitors from the outset or even better, how you can avoid the competition and get a sole source award where you don’t even have to write a competitive proposal. Interestingly, when you are trying to reduce the competition, you are at odds with the intent of most Government rules, but you are actually helping your customer.

Limiting competition is bad because competition is supposed to result in a more beneficial deal for the Government, and better stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars. It is, however, a double-edged sword: competition delays much-needed services or products the Government needs, sometimes for years, due to protests that companies launch when they have reasons to believe the competition wasn’t fair, or when they simply grasp at straws and try to game the system. It also wastes taxpayers’ money by forcing the Government to go through a lengthy and cumbersome selection process in accordance with the FAR and other regulations. Even the premise of a better deal is questionable, as the best possible companies to do the job often lose for reasons that have nothing to do with their capabilities or value.

You can help your customers by saving their resources instead of spending them on the competition. You could encourage them to add scope to another contracting vehicle you hold or figure out how to get the work awarded to you on a sole-source basis. You can also scope out the competitive landscape, and drive this opportunity as a task order to an IDIQ contract you dominate. Let’s say you do well on a MAC with only five competitors and tend to win a majority of the task orders. Then, the Government could move this task order to that MAC to maximize the chances of selecting you as a winner.

Or how about making sure the procurement goes to a small business or even a specific type of set aside? For example, if you are an 8(a) company, can you limit this competition to 8(a) companies only? This way, you will not have quite as many competitors that have the right past performance and credentials to beat you. Or, you could check if this bid could be awarded to you within the $4 million thresholds as a set-aside, if you are certain no other 8(a) companies possess the right past performance. If you are an SDVOSB, you can get a sole source award of up to $3.5 million if you can prove there are no other SDVOSBs immediately available to execute the scope. If there are other SDVOSBs, the procurement could be issued as an SDVOSB set aside. A similar approach also works for HUBZone companies.

Can you influence the contract type or selection criteria that are in your favor but would damage your competition? Can you neutralize competition through specific targeted statements and actions that would put other companies in a negative light? These tactics work especially well in early capture when the acquisition strategy is still undecided and you can freely talk to the customer.

It is important to note that in some cases, capture efforts have to be shrunk into much shorter time frames—as when you deal with task orders or delivery orders on an IDIQ contract, or when you are simply late learning about a bid.

In this case, you might find out about an opportunity past the point when you have a chance to engage with the customer. Sometimes it means that someone else made sure that they limited the competition, or this task order is added to their preferred MAC vehicle, and they have the highest win probability. In other cases, it could be that the Government simply added this opportunity to the roster because they decided it would be quicker to award through a particular MAC.

As you can see, stacking the deck in your favor ahead of time through proper capture will help you prevail over your competition, and keep a healthy flow of contracts coming.

If you are short-staffed, your proposal load is heavy, or you need additional skills to support your efforts, we can get you the right help, usually within hours of the request, in all areas of capture and cost support. We have ready over 900 consultants including Capture, BD, Proposal Management, Writing, DTP, Graphics, Pricing, Orals, and many technical and professional SME skills. Contact us so we can connect you with the professional you need to help you win the business you want.

While the number one goal of capture is to stack the deck in your favor, think about how you can reduce the number of competitors from the outset. Although limiting competition can put you at odds with the intent of most Government rules, you are actually helping your customer. Before we delve into the article on today’s topic though, please check out a couple of announcements that you might find very useful for your capture management:

  • In a few weeks: Foundations of Federal Business Development workshop on October 7-8, 2013, teaches the basics of the Federal Business Development lifecycle and how to navigate the U.S. Government market place, perform strategic BD planning, market analysis, federal marketing, pipeline development, opportunity qualification and maximizing your win probability. Learn more or register at
  • Next month: Foundations of Capture Management workshop on October 9-10, 2013, teaches the techniques for customer engagement, intelligence gathering, win strategy development, competitive analysis, teaming, and solution development. Learn more or register at
  • FREE 1-hour online webinar (video presentation): Quality Control Measures to Save Your Proposals from Stinking and Skyrocket your Pwin on October 30, 2013, Wednesday, 1pm. This FREE webinar focuses on seven elements of the proposal quality control, from larger initiatives affecting all your pursuits to the specific techniques used during the individual proposal process. It shares the techniques for turning a stinky proposal into a great one.

Best regards,

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

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