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Research shows that the top challenge for Business Development (BD) teams is a lack of adequate resources to find and pursue opportunities. This is especially true for small & medium sized businesses. This article identifies five ways in which BD managers can improve the effectiveness of their capture process, and thereby increase win rates with the resources they have.

Key #1 – Managing Your Opportunity Pipeline
Key #2 – Fully Assessing the Probability of Win (PWin)
Key #3 – Identifying and Documenting Key Information
Key #4 – Pricing Yourself Competitively
Key #5 – Finding the Right Teaming Partner(s)

Key #1 – Managing Your Opportunity Pipeline

In a small company, founders typically have the experience and expertise to evaluate an opportunity and know when to walk away. However, a new challenge for the organization is encountered after a growth spurt when new BD staff are hired and, because practices for qualifying opportunities are not mature, efficiency and win rate falls.

Pipeline meetings can be tedious, but essential to making the most efficient use of BD resources, as well as Capture, Solutioning or Proposal resources involved in pre-RFP customer engagement. Regular updates from capture managers over the typical 18-month bid cycle forces follow up actions that are crucial to positioning for a win. Sharing and exchanging information with others in the company that have knowledge can also help you win.

Companies with mature BD processes learn how to evaluate the opportunity so that they can make informed gate and bid decisions, and avoid wasting resources on unqualified opportunities. 

Solutions that are not specifically designed for government contractors, such as Excel spreadsheets or other Customer Relationship Management tools, will be ineffective at helping you manage your government contracting pipeline. You should be actively conducting pipeline reviews, supported by defined decision gates and by calculating the Probability of Win (PWin) (see Key #2). The pipeline should be managed in a single, secure, and accessible repository to increase visibility for consistency and comparison. A rigorous pipeline management process and information system will help you eliminate low probability opportunities and focus on more promising opportunities. Scarcity of BD resources is a critical factor limiting growth. Those resources need to be focused on the potential growth areas that are the best fit for your organization and partners.

Research shows a positive correlation between the maturity of a company’s BD process and their win rate. When you know when to walk away from an unqualified bid, you can spend your efforts elsewhere.

Capture2Proposal enables you to manage the government contractor pipeline management process.

Key #2 – Fully Assessing the PWin

PWin (Probability of Win) modelling provides a structured approach to identifying your probability of success on an opportunity. As you progress through your capture process you should be regularly evaluating opportunities. When you do so, the accuracy of the PWin calculation will improve. Experienced business developers have a strong instinct on how to assess the win potential. However, it is important to have rigor in this area, as sometimes things are forgotten as you grow and during crunch times. You need to have an unemotional way to compare and contrast opportunities if they are competing for resources at the same time so that you can most effectively decide how to allocate limited resources.

PWin assessments should be supported by industry best practices and a structured questionnaire in categories such as Competition Evaluation, Customer Desire for Competition, Customer Relationship, Management Capabilities, Positioning, Price-to-Win and Technical Capabilities.

If a PWin value is low relative to other opportunities, understand why, and determine whether you should walk away or set conditions for the next gate review decision. 

Learn more about Capture2Proposal’s robust support for PWin calculation.

Key #3 – Identifying and Documenting Key Information

It is essential to talk to the contracting officer or program manager. While some Agency Contracting Officers are just not responsive, you have a resource in the Small Business Advocates. They can serve as the primary conduit to get face time with the Program Manager. Your market intelligence system should have this contact information.

Some GovCons, when they get to meet with the program manager, fall into the trap of talking more than they listen. This is not the time to sell your capabilities. It is essential to understand the project priorities directly from the customer. This will be important in identifying any gaps plus the discriminators, strengths and proof points in your solution, along with win themes that need to be communicated to the proposal team.

It is also key to get insight on whether the customer actually wants competition since not all agencies are as willing to replace the incumbent as others. Your goal during this meeting is to learn more about the program’s wants and needs outside of what is written or shared in the opportunity announcement and industry day events. It is also critical to begin identifying the evaluation committee participants, to understand their goals, influencers and relative interests. While you want them to remember your name and your interest, your goal is to gather the intel, not to try to sell yourself to the program just yet. 

Capture2Proposal provides the Contact Management capabilities that government contractors need.

Key #4 – Pricing Yourself Competitively

In pricing-to-win, there are multiple factors to consider that will help you create both the most effective proposal and to accurately calculate your PWin. Here are seven considerations that will help:

  • Is your team competitive given the customer’s proposed cost evaluation criteria? Do you understand the target Fringe, OH, G&A and Material Handling rates, or combined wrap rates for the sector? If not, these can be obtained from industry benchmarks such as the GAUGE Report.
  • Is this a “must-win”, industry-defining opportunity for your company, requiring some investment?
  • Has your team been awarded contracts for similar products or services using the proposed evaluation criteria?
  • Have you obtained budget, funding and spend information from the customer?
  • Are you confident in your team’s understanding of the customer’s budget and spend limitations, per period-of-performance (PoP)?
  • If there is an incumbent, can you estimate the incumbent’s pricing? You should research the incumbent, the task orders that have been funded, and what they have performed. Typically, incumbents are caught between rising personnel costs and the need to discount their pricing to meet expected competition.
  • Where is the incumbent contract being executed? Rates will be different by location, and among incumbent teaming partners. This information may not be complete in the RFP, but a good opportunity research tool can provide this data. In today’s reality, it is also good to ask what the options and requirements for remote work are.

Capture2Proposal provides critical insights via funding analytics and much more.

Key #5 – Finding the Right Teaming Partner(s)

To build the right team for a specific opportunity you need to find partners with relevant past performance, a relationship with the customer and their influencers, a differentiating solution, or a status that meets set-aside requirements. This includes labor contractors, managed service providers and OEM vendors or materiel providers.

A popular strategy is to identify and ‘pick off’ incumbent sub-contractor teammates. By understanding what share of the incumbent contract they have earned, you could offer them a higher share and enhanced employee benefits, and therefore gain their past performance and qualifications. This information should be available in your market intelligence system.

A second proven strategy is to search your market intelligence system using keywords with relevant past performance for the particular customer organization to identify other contractors with the right background and performance.

Once you have identified these partners, it is essential to have a secure collaboration platform for your teams on each opportunity. Aged data, miscommunication and redundant information can lead to delays, frustration and sometimes critical errors in the BD, capture and proposal processes. 

Capture2Proposal makes Teaming Management easy.


This article has identified five keys to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts to win Government contracts.

With an integrated approach to market intelligence and opportunity pursuit you can spend less time, spend less money, and win more business. Learn more at https://capture2proposal.com/capture-2-features/.

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