Avoid Renewal Delays … take these two steps now.
Starting 01 July 2018 there are two important changes to your SAM.GOV registration – you need to:
- Create a Login.gov account and use that for accessing your SAM record (see the yellow banner at the top of SAM.GOV)
- Submit a notarized letter to SAM.GOV designating an “authorized Entity Administrator” who can make changes to your account (see the red ‘Alert’ text just below the blue menu banner on SAM.GOV)
Upon your next registration anniversary, your renewal may be held up until you submit your notarized letter; any new registrants must submit the letter to open a SAM.GOV account.
You can read all about these changes on SAM.GOV; however, note that these two issues are dealt with separately on the website. It’s wise to get ahead of this and prevent an avoidable renewal delay – which could impact future contract awards.
Please note there are many companies offering to handle this on your behalf … for a FEE. There is no need to pay anyone to do this – the process is relatively simple and FREE.
As proposal consultants, we often encounter misperceptions about the proposal process – particularly from those new to the proposal game. These misperceptions can lead to noncompliant proposals, unrealistic win-probability assessments, and general failure to fulfill customer needs. In short, a losing proposal. Here are some real-life examples:
1. “We don’t need to meet with the customer – once they see our proposal they’ll be won over.”
It’s essential to meet with the customer. Face-to-face is much better than a phone call. Assuming your meetings go well, over time you’ll become a familiar, credible vendor and ideally, you’ll pick up valuable information about what the customer really wants. I once had a customer say during a meeting, “Don’t pay attention to what we wrote in the RFP background – this is our real challenge.” How can you compete with that if you don’t have the conversation?
2. “We don’t need to follow the RFP religiously, we’re much more creative than that.”
Oftentimes the RFP doesn’t make sense or flow well. It’s very tempting to get creative and change the order of things so that the proposal “reads better.” But evaluators already have scoring sheets set up based on the RFP layout. If they don’t find what they are looking for in the designated part of the proposal, you won’t get credit, even if it appears in a different section. Worst case, you may be disqualified for noncompliance and the merits of your solution will never be assessed. Remember, there’s a team of evaluators: each person is assigned a different section of the proposal to score. You want to make their job easier, not harder. Follow the RFP outline.
3. “They don’t really know what they need – we’re the experts, so we know better.”
You may be the expert and you may know better, but don’t say it in the proposal. First, you will come across as arrogant. Second, no matter how much you know, the customer is still going to use the RFP as a yardstick to evaluate you against the competition. Once you’ve won, you may then be able to discuss possibly changing direction. You must first get your foot in the door.
4. “We’ll dazzle them with our credentials and examples of our work.”
You may be proud of your credentials, and so is every other company. Highlight your relevant experience and capabilities to underscore the value of your solution – not to glibly pat yourself on the back. Focus on how your capabilities align with and bring value to the customer’s needs. And never bid only because you can “do the work,” or because the “SOW is in our wheelhouse.” It’s likely in your competitors’ wheelhouse also.
5. “We’ll offer them more than they ask for, to really wow them.”
The Evaluation Team or Source Selection Evaluation Board (SSEB) rates the technical solution against baseline requirements. Sometimes they give extra points for going beyond the baseline performance (threshold vs. goal); in these cases, the scoring is spelled out in the RFP. If you go beyond what’s required, be sure to frame your offering as a either a risk mitigator or strength – i.e., a solution feature that 1) they care about, 2) saves them money or time, and either 3) lowers risk or 4) increases performance by X%. Quantifying the increase in performance provides the assurance the SSEB needs to back your value-add, especially if it ends up costing more money in a Best Value procurement.
6. “Cost is low on the list of evaluation factors – we can charge more because of our superior technical solution.”
In a Best Value evaluation, technical, management, and past performance rank higher than price and are evaluated before cost proposals are opened. Proposals that score high (Outstanding, Good) under these factors are then evaluated on cost or price. If you’re “charging more,” be sure to link solution features to strengths and low risk (see #5). The Government typically pays more to avoid risk. I once heard an SSEB member say up to 40% more; but more typically the rule of thumb is between 5 and 10%. It’s your job to convince the evaluators that your solution, even if not the lowest price, is the one that mitigates the most risk to them.
by Luanne Smulsky
The RFP’s SOW/PWS is 30 pages, and the Government wants your technical solution to address all requirements within 15. You must be compliant, persuasive … and concise.
Easier said than done? Indeed! But with the right outline, time to prepare, and skilled writers, your proposal can comply and be convincing – even within tight page limits.
ClientView helps SMEs prepare concise drafts with annotated outlines. We often recommend addressing each SOW/PWS task as follows:
- 1-2 sentence Task Understanding – without using the words “we understand”
- 3-5 sentences about the Solution – HOW you’ll accomplish the tasks with process, tools, and people, NOT what you’ll do
- Proof – brief (maybe 3 sentences), but replete with quantitative results your solution provided other customers
Focused writing is challenging. If you’re struggling, give us a call. We have plenty of examples and are adept at drawing out scoreable information from SMEs.
Not just your win/loss record, but how well does your process support proposal creation and production? Proposal best practices and lessons learned are important enterprise assets that you should be capturing – and leveraging. After all, proposals offer hard and sometimes expensive lessons – and you should benefit from them every time.
Reviewing your internal proposal performance is one step to increasing your win probability. Ask yourself: how well did you handle team mobilization, task assignment, color team output, completion, and submission, etc.?
These are among the key focus areas for what did, and did not, go well.
Congress recently passed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act which authorizes programs and funding for the Department of Defense, and addresses certain other policy and fiscal matters important to Government Contractors. Continue reading “Congress Passes 2018 NDAA” »
Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there (Will Rogers)
By Ed Harrington
Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) have morphed over time since their inception to create opportunities that did not once exist for Government contractors. Originally intended to access “nontraditional” contractors, foster increased technology innovation, and expand the Defense industrial base, OTAs continue to evolve in their utility and application to US Government (USG) contracting. Continue reading “Take a Fresh Look – This is Not Your Grandfather’s OTA” »
It is important to stand out. It is necessary to demonstrate your unique qualifications. It is vital to show that your company deserves the bid because you can supply something superior — something DIFFERENT than the rest. But, not so different that your proposal alienates its evaluators.
RFPs are released in order to locate a company that can best fulfill a need, i.e., a product or service that is outside the bounds of a given Government agency’s capabilities, so most sections of your proposal are devoted to selling your company’s distinctive offerings. Yet, there is one section that is your opportunity to strike a necessary chord of familiarity: the Management Volume. Continue reading “Going With the Flow(chart): Aligning with the Customer’s Organization” »
We all know that RFPs are tightly scripted, highly-detailed documents. Yet, not everything you need to know can be gleaned from reading the RFP. Talking to the potential customer – well before the RFP is released – is essential before investing large resources in developing a proposal. Continue reading “Seeing is Believing, but Make the Call Anyway” »
Competitors Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to Sneak Peek at YOUR Proposals
A growing trend in the federal procurement market exists where competitors are submitting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for ALL contracting documentation on bids – and specifically requesting the proposals submitted by the winners. Continue reading “FOIABles Alert!” »