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How to Use Capabilities Briefing Decks to Start Conversations with Government Buyers

business development Feb 06, 2024

Every year, federal government buyers actively search for thousands of small business vendors who are ready to meet their procurement needs, ensuring projects are completed efficiently 'on spec, on time, and on budget'.

As they seek out trustworthy small business partners, your small business profile will come under scrutiny. Your marketing assets are the face of your company – especially your 6-second Capability Statement, your 5-10 minute Capabilities Briefing deck, DSBS profile, company website, and your personal and company LinkedIn profiles. These assets must capture the attention of government buyers and position your business as the preferred vendor.

Know your audience and exactly what you are trying to achieve. Each government contracting marketing asset serves a unique purpose.


In this article, we'll explain:

  1. What's the difference between a Capability 'Statement' and a Capability 'Briefing'?
  2. What is a Capabilities Briefing?
  3. What should be included in a Capabilities Briefing deck for government contracting and Why?
  4. How to prepare for a Capabilities Briefing with a federal buyer
  5. How to guide and control Capabilities Briefing meetings

Watch:  "How To Give Capability Briefings to Start Relationship​s with Government Buyers" 

A government contracting Capabilities Briefing deck is a tool that starts the conversation going in the right direction.

What's the Difference Between a Capability 'Statement' and a Capability 'Briefing'?

The primary purpose of a Capability Statement is to get you a meeting with federal buyers. 'Cap statements' are designed to be easily understood in 6 seconds, so that government small business specialists can connect you with the right program officers.

The purpose of a Capabilities Briefing Deck is to guide conversations in the right direction once you actually get a meeting with a federal agency buyer.

During the first 10 minutes of the meeting, you will use the briefing deck to present your company's unique strengths, experiences and capabilities. The rest of your meeting should be used to learn about your targeted customer. 


What is a Capabilities Briefing?

Capabilities briefings or 'capability briefs' are concise, compelling presentation documents used to briefly introduce your company to federal agency buyers and large prime contractors. Government buyers are primarily interested in your core competencies to see where you fit in. However, large prime contractors are looking for signs of organizational maturity and financial stability.

A capabilities briefing is a tool to drive a discussion and start a business relationship. The briefing deck serves four (4) key purposes:

  1. To Showcase Your Core Competencies
    • Buyers and teammates want to immediately see and understand your core competencies and your 'niched offer' to see where you might align with their needs.
  2. To Highlight Your Experience and Past Performance
    • Once buyers see 'what' you can do, they want to see that you've been paid for that expertise.
  3. To Showcase Your Organizational Maturity
    • Buyers and teammates look for signs of organizational maturity and stability. It could be as simple as being registered in SAM or having a contract vehicle, to the strength of your financial stability.
  4. To Be Left Behind (as a Visual Reminder)
    • Often, your printed briefing deck may remain on the buyer's desk after the meeting. This not only keeps you top of mind for them, but might catch the eye of a colleague who stops by. 

Framework of Capability Briefing Deck Slides​

* Download free template below

  1. Title Slide
    • The title slide includes company identification with contact information. This is your 'first impression' especially on a printed copy of your deck. Frequently, buyers will leave your slide deck lying around for others to see. An attractive title page attracts attention.
  2. Company Overview
    • The company overview slide highlights your business differentiators and shows your firm is procurement-ready with a strong back office and staff.
  3. Core Competencies
    • The Core Competencies slide shows your clear, focused offer. Quickly show what you do for others so they can see where you fit with their needs.
  4. Proven Past Performance
    • This slide shows your previous experience and where you've been paid for your core competencies. This allows you to use 'borrowed credibility' and trust from past customers.
  5. Case Studies
    • Case Study slides showcase projects related to your core competencies that align with  buyer needs. Chose examples to demonstrate how you helped others with similar goals and challenges.
  6. Final Slide
    • Identical to the first 'Title' slide, it reminds them that you can be an excellent industry partner.

How To Prepare for a Capabilities Briefing for a Federal Buyer


When you are meeting with a federal buyer the first time, you don't want to get distracted or waste time. Use a Call Plan to stay on message, refer to talking points, take notes and ask questions about agency needs. You want to discover how your company's offerings might serve this buyer's needs.


As you research your target agency, you will begin to discover their goals, challenges and objectives. Federal agencies are legally required to publish their budgets, org charts, strategic plans, current and upcoming forecasts of contracts. You can find this information on the agency website, social media channels, industry briefings and by spending some time on USA Spending.


As you prepare for your meeting, use this opportunity to refresh your DSBS profile, register in their inhouse agency supplier portal, follow their content on LinkedIn and engage whenever appropriate.

Finally, take the opportunity to call the person you will be meeting in advance and ask if there are other documents or websites they recommend your review. 

How to Guide and Control a Capabilities Briefing Meeting

Some final reminders to keep in mind in order to have a 'successful' meeting. A Call Plan is an invaluable tool to guide your meeting, keep you on topic and respect the time limit.

Start the meeting by explaining your understanding of the purpose of the meeting and telling the buyer you have prepared notes to get the most time value for everyone.

"I prepared a call plan so we both get the most value for our time. I'd like to start with a brief introduction to our company, then spend the remainder of our time having a conversation about your agency – your specific challenges, goals, etc. Sound good?"

  • Don't tell them everything about you. You are there to learn everything about them.
  • Don't overload them with information or they won't remember anything. Focus on the one message you want to leave as your lasting impression.
  • As an unfamiliar potential business partner, you want to increase your perceived value in the eyes of the other person and reduce any perception of risk.




Finally, if you're a small business government contractor, #HUBZone #SDVOSB, 8(a), or #wosb don't forget to build a relationship with your local SBDC and APEX Accelerator counselor for support.

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