The competition for that big contract you have been dying to win is underway. This is a great business opportunity for you. So, you begin the process of putting together the perfect proposal. As you go through that process, there are several pitfalls that could prevent you from having the best proposal. As a government attorney, I saw many of those pitfalls in every source selection I worked. So as one gift as you enter this new year, I want to go over some of the main pitfalls I have seen from the government’s perspective.
Write to Your Audience
Companies spend a lot of time visiting their customer when source selections are on the horizon. They are in the Program Manager or Director’s office; they talk to the agency head when possible. It makes sense that companies want to know their thoughts and needs, as well as share the company’s capabilities. However, companies should remember that those individuals are likely not evaluating the proposal and are also likely not the individuals writing the requirements in the Request for Proposal (RFP). They will review the RFP before it hits the streets and may even be on the board to review the evaluation. However, they are not sitting in the room with your proposal, determining if it meets the requirements in the RFP. When writing your proposal, keep your audience in mind. Write to the person that will be sitting in the room reading your proposal. You will find their thoughts in the actual wording of the RFP requirements. Write to the requirements written in the RFP and not just the conversations you had with people that will likely never see your proposal. Stick to the requirements and cover them thoroughly.
Don’t be Arrogant
In working government source selections, I was surprised by the number of times companies would challenge the government employees evaluating their proposals. I tried to always encourage my teams to have as open as possible the dialogue during discussions. I always thought it was best to be direct with weaknesses and other concerns which the evaluation team found with the proposal. I was surprised at the number of times companies would tell the government representative that they just didn’t understand why the contractor’s approach was better than the requirements in the RFP, and then submit a revised proposal with the same approach, despite the previous explanation that the approach was not within the RFP requirements. Always remember that the government is evaluating the proposal, not you. You may feel the requirements don’t adequately represent the needs of the agency, and you may be correct. However, you aren’t the one evaluating the proposal. If you insult the intelligence of the person evaluating the proposal by ignoring their feedback concerning whether you met the requirements, you are not going to get far.
Deliver what is Asked for in the RFP Instructions
The RFP will tell you what type of information the government wants to see in your proposal. If the RFP says the government is looking for an approach, don’t just tell the government how great you were in providing the same work to HYZ agency three years ago. The government is looking for an approach, meaning they want to know how you are going to do it for them on that particular contract. Speak to the future in your proposal. Tell the agency what you will do for them. If you go into the wonderful steps you took for HYZ Agency three years ago, be sure to state you will perform the same steps under this contract. Contrarily, if the government asks for experience in all requirements, tell them how you did it three years ago and ensure you hit experience on all of the requirements. Pay close attention to what the RFP instructions ask you to provide and stick closely to it.
Look for Your Weaknesses
These are my three source selection tips to kick-off 2019. If you feel you may be weak in any of these three areas or other areas of your proposal, I would welcome a conversation to discuss how we can help enhance your proposal and provide the best response to the Government RFPs on your horizon. Good luck on those future proposals. Hopefully they bring those great business opportunities in your doors.
A Helping Hand with Years of Experience May Be What You Need
With years of experience in government contracting, the Redstone team can help you with your proposals, audits, and even human resource needs. We are committed to support our clients through their entire contract life cycle and offer training and consulting packages for all sizes of organizations. Contact us for a personalized consultation and find out how we can help you be successful in working with the government!