To Go or Not To Go – That is the (Burning) Question

By Gary Dunbar

Your business cannot continue or grow without effective executive decisions that produce revenue. Your future as a Government Contractor depends on your yes (GO) or no (NO GO) decisions to prepare and submit proposals, often expensive investments. In addition to decision-making factors unique to your company, here are 10 critical factors every firm should consider when determining whether to respond to a competitive RFP.

  1. Do we understand the Government agency’s challenge and do we have a concise plan for helping their project succeed? Your proposal must convince evaluators that your firm deeply understands what’s required for success and how you’ll deliver the performance that creates that favorable outcome.
  2. How does our plan reduce risk to the Government and provide value (as defined by the particular agency)? Sure, you can do the work – and so can most, if not all, of your competitors. But can you accomplish the SOW/PWS in a manner that mitigates mission or contract risk? To do that, you must frame your solution-based features as strengths, and clearly link those strengths to customer-based benefits.
  3. Does the Government agency know our firm as a leader in the SOW? We’re not talking about meeting with the prospective client with a 450-slide presentation and a three-inch thick notebook of bragging materials. We’re talking about effective capture and relationship-building – months prior to RFP release. We’re talking about writing white papers that influence the RFP. We’re talking about really knowing the agency’s pain points – beyond what is said in the RFP – so you can address them in your solution and target the most meaningful benefits to this particular customer. Submitting a proposal to an agency who doesn’t know you is NOT effective capture … it’s lots of wasted overhead money spent on preparing a losing proposal.
  4. Does the Government agency know our proposed Project Manager (PM)/Key Personnel (KP) as outstanding professionals with the skills to address this SOW’s challenges? Has this prospective customer worked with your proposed PM//KP? Did your PM/KP participate in recent sales calls to this prospective client? Or has your client attended a presentation your PM made at an industry conference or on a relevant broadcast? If the answer to these questions is no, what is your plan to persuade the prospective client that your PM/KP are best value candidates? Proposals that present multiple highly successful relevant contracts and then propose a PM/KP not involved in any of those contracts is likely to lose.
  5. Does this opportunity fit your firm’s Strategic Plan and provide long-term strategic advantages? If you want your boat to go to Hawaii, don’t steer to Antarctica. Make GO decisions on opportunities that fit your strategy. If your strategy needs to be changed, think it through and make wise decisions, not long-shots at unforeseen opportunities.
  6. Can we prepare an exceptional winning proposal within the time constraints? This isn’t gambling; you’re not shooting craps; you will not win by a “throw-something- together and throw-it-over-the-wall” approach. Commit the requisite time, money, and resources to prepare an exceptional proposal or make a NO GO decision. There is no middle ground.
  7. Can we submit a competitive price? Obviously, price matters, even in “Best Value” procurements. Do your homework and develop realistic estimates. What does the Government expect to pay for the product or service? If this is a re-compete, what price was paid before? Slightly different, but highly relevant, is the impact winning will have on your annual gross revenue. If winning the contract will result in your annual gross revenue increasing by more than double the current amount, make a NO GO decision and look for a role as a subcontractor or provide a detailed, thorough explanation of how you’ll increase capacity to perform the contract. It’s a big mistake to submit a proposal hoping no one on Source Selection Evaluation Board will notice your lack of planning.
  8. Can we manage or mitigate all the risks to our firm as we execute and perform the contract? All contracts have risks. Do you really understand the risks to your firm in this contract and do you have the plan, resources, and know-how to mitigate those risks?
  9. Are your team’s Past Performance Assessments relevant to the RFP’s objectives and the SOW? Is your performance seen as “exceptional” by your former clients and customers – and can you prove that via testimonials, CPARS, other evaluations? Collect, keep, and have readily available all performance assessment information and letters of commendation. Use this information in your proposal by quoting letters of commendation, including the name of the author and the date of the letter. Provide copies of performance assessments. In your performance of all contracts, immediately and effectively address and correct any notification of less than excellent performance, even a casual comment. If your Past Performance relative to this RFP doesn’t demonstrate excellent services and products, make a NO GO decision.
  10. Do we know our competition and have a plan to beat them? Do you know your competition? Have they won contracts that you lost? Do you know why or how they did it? What is your plan to win? How will you ghost them?

These guiding questions force your firm to take a hard, honest look at its compatibility with any given Government agency’s RFP demands. Competitive analysis, along with capture planning, is critical to your ability to prepare a winning proposal – and thus your GO/NO GO decision.

ClientView LLC provides executive-level business development consulting to companies that sell products and services to the federal government and commercial customers. Our services include strategy development; marketing, positioning and proposal training; capture planning; and proposal creation and production.

The Risk of Pausing


Company One

The CEO of this services firm with $17M Annual Revenue brings in new management with a mandate to grow the company while he slows down to prepare for retirement. Four years later new management has achieved Annual Revenue of $54M with an opportunity pipeline forecast of at least 25% growth for the next three years. The CEO steps back into hands-on management and forces resignation of the new management so that he can “get control.” Five years later, Annual Revenue is down to $19M and forecast to fall further.

Continue reading “The Risk of Pausing” »

The Leader’s Role in Strategy – Full Engagement


I know a CEO who gave strategic planning a try – once. He brought his senior team together and tasked them to develop a company strategic plan. They went away and performed market research, defined big goals, engaged the right people, assessed resource requirements, and pulled together an integrated strategic plan, complete with milestones and metrics.

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Small Business Graduation Challenges

Ed Harrington – ClientView Partner, Brigadier General US Army (Retired), former Director, Defense Contract Management Agency and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Procurement) – presents the first of a multi-part series addressing the challenges of growing/preparing a Small Business to enter or “graduate” into a “full and open” competitive business environment. 

Objective of this ClientView (CV) Conversation series

I spent almost one-third of my 35 years as a government servant in what is now called “Federal Acquisition” (yes, based on the Federal Acquisition Regulation or FAR). I dealt, on a daily basis, with private industry, ranging from international corporations to single-person Small Businesses (SBs). I was often responsible for policy development that directed how businesses would have to comply with government requirements. One of my job functions was to oversee the efforts (policy and process improvements) at helping SBs both mature as business entities and grow their work with the government. Much of my experience with SB during my government service taught me a lot about techniques and practices that succeeded, as well as those that caused failure or stalled growth. Occasionally, I saw SBs that had purposely identified and prepared for what was required for growth beyond the realm of the SB environment of preferential, “set aside” contracts. Continue reading “Small Business Graduation Challenges” »

ClientView Consulting Proudly Announces Interviews with Managing Partner Gary Dunbar


Managing Partner Gary Dunbar recently released a book on the subject of
improving revenue growth for government contractors. After its release Gary
was interviewed on IUniverse Radio during which he discusses his new book and
its pertinence to the current government contracting climate. That interview is
available FREE on Itunes. Continue reading “ClientView Consulting Proudly Announces Interviews with Managing Partner Gary Dunbar” »

ClientView Extends Expertise to Life Sciences Markets

Ph.D. with 30 years’ experience in life sciences and Government contracting
joins ClientView as Partner

May 3, 2013, Boston, MA – ClientView Consulting LLC (CV) is excited to announce
the addition of Philip (“Rusty”) Warren, Ph.D., as Partner. Rusty will be
responsible for development and implementation of diversification strategies,
especially those based on intellectual property, for CV clients. Continue reading “ClientView Extends Expertise to Life Sciences Markets” »

NDIA Seminar

ClientView Consulting is proud to announce Managing Partner Gary Dunbar as a guest speaker at the NDIA New England Chapter seminar on May 2, 2013. Please join Gary as he discusses the keys to revenue growth, and shares his years of knowledge and experience.

“Strategies for the New Defense Market” A Seminar for Government Contractors (Large and Small) May 2, 2013, 7:30am – 12:00 Noon

Continue reading “NDIA Seminar” »