Advanced Proposal Writing: Wisely Choosing What to Pursue, Part 2

Companies often fail to understand that while they may have the best product or provide the best services, this means little if their proposals don't win. More often than not a bid is lost because they bid on something they should have skipped in the first place.

How do you make the right decision concerning which project to bid upon? You must employ a realistic bid/no-bid decision-making process. The process should center on (i) can we win, and (ii) what are the risks and ramifications associated with winning?

Can we win?

Ask yourself these questions before you decide to bid:

  • Does the customer know us? Have we pre-sold our capabilities?
  • Is there an incumbent and, if so, how satisfied is the government with its performance?
  • Are we bidding blind? What is our real knowledge of the client and their business needs?
  • Do we clearly have ALL of the capabilities at hand? Or are we stretching here?
  • Who are our competitors and what are their relationships with the potential customer?
  • Do the proposal instructions seem unduly detailed? If so, it is likely that the opportunity is wired for the only company with a realistic chance of winning -- the incumbent who wrote the specs for the proposal.
  • What is our strategy? Why will the government choose us? What will make us stand out above the competition?

What is the Risk?
The rule of thumb is don't bid unless the potential gain clearly outweighs the potential risk. (Note the emphasis on the adverb). Will you make money? Often, in the enthusiasm for what seems to be a nice fit with their capabilities and goals, companies fail to properly address this up front. If it's a firm fixed price bid and you win, you could stand to lose a lot of money if your pricing was off or unforeseen problems occur. Are the government's evaluators weighing cost more heavily than experience or technical approach? If you want to win, be prepared for a price shootout. Can you safely cut your margins low enough to win?

Lastly, are you sure you can do a top-notch job for this customer? Poor job performance or poor project outcome on government contracts can have a significantly greater impact on your future business than in the commercial world. Your poor performance can follow you around much more easily as performance records are made increasingly available for inspection across federal agencies. And the trend seems to be that RFP's requirements demand that your firm reveal all of your current and past government contracts. Know clearly what you are getting into and commit yourself to excellence.

Gary Mason
Proposal Writer

Visit Fedmarket
For inquiries, call 888-661-4094. Press 2.

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