It is time for more bid tough love. Bids take a lot of time to prepare if you are doing it well. Even a seemingly simple federal response will consume 20-60 hours of your employees’ time. Bids potentially take less time as you respond to more and as you build up skill and a solid response library. However, every bid requires customization, even if you have great assets to start. Don’t you dare pull out a completely canned response! You will make the expert level bid prep elves cry. You need to be measuring time spent on response and factoring in the cost of this time compared to your win rate percentage and associated revenue. Is the cost of your time worth the benefit? A simple benefit cost benefit analysis where the costs are outweighing the benefits are indicative of the fact your bid response writing is not effective and/or you are going after bids not matching your capabilities. Measuring the match takes some effort as well.
While you may want to think your company can do anything in its industry space, it can’t nor should it. Winning bids is all about knowing what differentiates your company from the competition you may face in bids and identifying bids where those differentiators will matter. You should be reviewing the evalution criteria, proposal content requirements, statement of work, requirements section, and budgets, if accessible, for bids as your first step. If you really, really, really meet all criteria, keep moving with the bid decision. Then, decide how you will meet the criteria regarding past performance and other evaluation items, assessing the percentage you can meet or exceed with your solution. This should be done prior to writing. If the percentage is below 60-70%, and you are not able to partner to make up or exceed the difference, you need to rethink spending time on a response unless you believe there is no other company to meet the full statement of work or requirements at the price point for which the government is asking. Are you confused or scared? Don’t be. The tough love is over.
A win is about conversion rate, revenue growth, the value of time spent on pretty writing and pictures, and skill at finding appropriate matches in the government world for what you can do today. Down the road, it can also be about building a market in government for your products or services through proactive sales. In addition, you could decide to build new capabilities at your company in a diversification effort based on current and future government needs. If you don’t start by establishing what it means to win in an agreed upon, metrics-driven format, your expectations and results will not align and the wins may not be as frequent and good as they can be. You are starting out as a winner because your company can do cool things. You just need to find the best opportunities in government for what you do and reasonable win metrics. The good news is that you don’t have to win every game in government to be a season champion!