In this series of free trainings, Neil McDonnell focuses on the 'HOW' and not just the 'WHAT' – actionable steps that help business owners build relationships and grow their federal contracting revenue. In today's LinkedIn "live", Neil McDonnell provided guidance for small business on how to learn about the 'challenges' of any federal contracting opportunity.
Are your proposals perfectly tailored to the PWS and the RFP, but you are not winning the contracts you thought were 'perfect fits'?
Did you take the time to understand the government’s challenges during the capture process?
It is not enough simply to write proposals and just hope your solution will be impressive enough to the buyer.
In order to write a winning proposal, you need to understand the buyer's challenges and pain points.
With this knowledge, your response can be written specifically to their need – in the language they use to describe it. This is especially important for high-value contracts.
After all, you are trying to build a long-term relationship, and establishing who you will be as a partner. The buyer needs to trust that you understand them before they bother to understand you.
In sales, ‘buyers won’t care about what you know until they know you care.’
Where can you learn about agency challenges?
Ask your teaming partners and other smalls businesses to benefit from their past experience within the agency.
Before you offer solutions, schedule a meeting with the program office –the people who do the real work–to discuss your understanding of their challenges.
Agency challenges are communicated clearly in these publicly available documents
Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Search for reports by agency or by issue to gather tremendous insight to the work conducted in recent years.
You can find statistics that will help in your discussions and proposal that shows the customer that you understand their needs and have done your homework
Strategic Plans and Annual Reports
Federal agencies use their official reports to describe the goals, objectives and challenges they want to address. Review this in detail in order to write your response using their language (ie description of needs)
Performance Work Statement (PWS)
The PWS reflects input from all the players in the acquisition life cycle. Before they described scope, they will provide some background and a little about what they are running into. This is where small businesses can learn about the implied challenges. If they are asking for something specific, it is likely this is one of their challenges.
Reading the scope and tasks, you can work backwards to try to understand their thinking process.
Watch related Neil's LinkedIn live video