How Can BD and Proposal Groups Turn Lemons Into Lemonade?

  |  September 27, 2017

Addressing a Challenged Market

In this article I attempt to address the question: How can BD and proposal groups help their companies counter a down market and earn more revenue? First, let’s look at the reasons why the market is challenged. And then we will look at ways in which we can help turn our lemons to lemonade.

The market has been challenging for contractors this year because of one primary reason. The president has not been able to get onboard many of the senior executives who approve RFP releases. Therefore, the federal market is stuck in first gear. A recent government executive magazine conducted an analysis of the problem. They examined how well this administration and the previous four did in getting their top 200 political appointees onboard during the first 100 days. They found that George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama were all significantly faster than Donald Trump in getting the appointees onboard.

So what can the contractor BD and proposal personnel do to make the most of the situation? The short answer is that they can take the slack (slow) time we are now seeing and do things that will help increase business when the market shifts into high gear. Some examples are listed below:

1. BD personnel can visit their customers.

The customers may be busy with closeouts in September. However, customers will be more available during other fall months. They don’t want to see you to hear a “same-old” presentation about how glorious your company is. They do want to hear about low-risk solutions that will make their work faster and cheaper. This means you have to understand the customer, and if you request a meeting to tell them about a better way to do it, they will make time for you.

2. Proposal shops should work on their past performance (PP).

Documenting your PP gets it on paper before institutional memory has faded. And it is so much easier to get your PP ready for the proposal when you aren’t starting from scratch.

3. Proposal shops should take this Golden Opportunity to further develop their task order (TO) proposal template library.

If you don’t have really good re-use templates for TO’s, then there is not much hope for your TO proposal program. This includes items such as plans for management, transition, staffing, commonly used technical solutions, etc.

4. Proposal shops can check your performance records such as CPARS to make sure they are accurate and complete.

When you discover errors during the proposal period, time is working against the corrections that need to be made.

5. Proposal shops can take the opportunity to secure training.

It is nearly always the case that proposal groups have personnel lacking skills, because (a) some individuals are too junior; or (b) there are technical personnel without sufficient proposal experience. Now is the time to mount a training effort proportional to the needs in your company.

Eventually there will be a critical mass of political appointees who can approve RFP releases. When that time comes, you will be ready to do better if you use the present time more wisely.