Russell Smith, President of OCI Proposal Consultants, recently presented at the 2021 APMP Bid and Proposal Conference (BPC) on the topic of how to maximize profits by breaking down the barriers between marketing, business development (BD), capture, and proposal groups.

As a follow-on to the conference, Russell authored a guest article in Washington Technology that provided a deep-dive perspective on the key themes and insights from his APMP conference presentation.

The presentation and the article were based on interviews that OCI conducted with 30 vice presidents and directors of BD, capture and proposals – and the insights gained shined a bright light on what really happens during the proposal process.

Current Barriers

Here are some of the issues that were uncovered during the interview process:

  • The vast majority found big gaps between the groups in the overall proposal development chain.
  • Some pricing teams did not collaborate with the proposal teams – out of fear that their pricing secrets would be leaked out through consultants.
  • One company invested $1 million in consulting services only to find out that there was no commitment from government to fund the program.
  • In one example, a bid was abandoned because the Price-to-Win (PTW) study was done late in the cycle, and found the necessary price was too low for the company to reach.

How to Overcome These Barriers

Ways to overcome these challenges, including the following:

  • Pricing work needs to start at the time of the contract pursuit decision.
  • At that time, the CFO can appoint the pricing lead, who then formulates the overall pricing strategy in accordance with the draft RFP.
  • Place the pricing personnel in the same group with BD, proposals, capture, and marketing.
  • Provide the time and budget needed for capture and technical to find a solution that can BOTH win the contact and make a profit.

How Proposal Groups Can Enhance Collaboration

Collaboration is the critical element, and the proposal teams can be the drivers of this by:

  • Enforcing attendance to all meetings.
  • Offering dedicated training for everyone – especially for those who are new to the proposal process.
  • Providing early-stage process briefings to make everyone aware of the upcoming opportunities and communicate the importance of everyone’s roles.
  • Developing an operational capture manual to document all processes and roles.
  • Using tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams for rapid collaboration, as well as new tools such as Bluescape for digital white boarding.

The Path Towards Profitability

Here are the ways to maximize profitability by optimizing the proposal process:

  • Financially incentivize all players through a pool of bonus funds.
  • Getting the right people for the job.
  • Seeking out better-qualified opportunities from the start.
  • Gaining more government customer engagement.
  • Enforcing the use of a shared document repository.
  • Having the technical teams develop irresistible solutions.

Responding to a large opportunity no longer needs to feel like you are climbing Mount Everest. By improving overall processes, enhancing communications, setting accountability, and even incentivizing, it is possible to get everyone moving in the right direction for that next big contract win.

Please click here to read the full article. If you would Russell’s APMP presentation script, please email Trina Holland at

Reach out to OCI here to tap into our wide-range of federal proposal consultants for organizations of all sizes – from Top 10 Federal Contractors to rapidly growing small businesses.