Information Technology in North Carolina accounts for approximately $1.3 billion of the state's budget. Government contractors have long believed that operations, business development, and capture management were all that was needed to win contracts. But new realties and greater competition in today's business-to-government marketplace suggests that it is time to challenge this view. To be a winner among the companies battling for government business, it now takes a fourth element, and that is marketing.
From a collaborative standpoint, winning a government contact starts long before an agency issues a Request for Proposal (RFP). We recommend that you start early by fostering collaboration among operations, business development, capture management and marketing. This collaboration must be strategic, targeted and focused on the longer view. Marketing, and the four-prong collaborative effort associated with it, doesn't start and stop in any given fiscal year. It is an ongoing process that must remain consistent from year to year.
In government contracting, it's often said that you have a better chance of winning a contract if the agency knows who you are before it receives your proposal. I would take that one step further and recommend that the agency should know you before the RFP is even written. If you want an agency to know your company, then you should do the following to build relationships:
- Set up a meeting with the appropriate contracting and program office.
- Go to industry shows and conferences in your state that are attended by agency personnel.
- Get introduced to key agency personnel by other contractors with whom you collaborate for similar business.
- Seek publicity in key trade-media outlets to increase your company’s visibility and credibility, and to position it as a thought leader.
- In a time of tight budgets, it's better to identify and pre-market fewer, targeted opportunities than to bid on whatever comes through the door. Just because someone in the agency or a teaming partner thinks an opportunity is right for your company, it doesn't mean it is worth deploying your limited resources to prepare a bid response. Money, people and the hours in the day are limited, and should be used where the potential for a win is the greatest.
Developing a win strategy is at the heart of customer acquisition. After your company targets a state agency customer, you want that customer to feel your company is omnipresent in the marketplace. The goal is to give them a sense of comfort and confidence in your organization. When they want to purchase, they know your company provides the desired level of quality, service and time sensitivity that all government agencies require. A company's win strategy must address why the government customer should select your company, based on all of the positive factors you offer. Your win strategy also looks for ways to neutralize the strengths of your competition. Heavy emphasis should be placed on your qualifications that show your company has done similar work, whether for another government agency or businesses. Agencies look for companies with a record of exceptional past performance for a particular customer.
Capture management is all about increasing a company's win probability between the time it decides to pursue an expected government contract and the time the RFP is released. The capture process begins as soon as a procurement opportunity is identified through pre-marketing activities. A capture team is then created from the line of operations or a standing group of capture executives. You need to identify the people in your organization who know how to best orchestrate activities in the government marketplace and in the company, and who can bring in technical and business development experts and even outside consultants as needed. Together, this group forms your capture team who will be committed to winning the contract.
Cornerstone Business Advisors provides access to experts in business strategy, marketing, sales organizational management, operations, processes and finance. The Cornerstone team includes former C-Level executives, successful entrepreneurs and advisors who offer unmatched experience in delivering advanced, custom-tailored, results-oriented solutions for business leaders. Cornerstone has worked with hundreds of companies that range from fast-growth start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. It developed the Performance Culture System™ to help clients implement best practices and drive high performance throughout their organization. For more information, visit www.launchgrowexit.com, call 910-681-1420, or email [email protected].