Landing B2B or B2C contracts in an ultra-competitive market can be incredibly challenging. Landing federal contracts (B2G), however, can feel like scaling a mountain over and over. While your pursuit process starts with grand ambitions, it can easily spin out of control quickly and leave you with stale business development efforts – or even cause you to miss an opportunity completely.
Federal contractors face unique challenges when chasing government contracts. Early on in the process, contractors have four core elements they need to identify:
- Who buys what they sell?
- How do they buy?
- Who is involved in the buying process?
- Why are they buying?
Federal contractors must also take into consideration small businesses on the uptick, growth of new companies in the federal market, set-asides, and tightening budgets in a post-COVID world where in-person interactions are harder to come by.
To win in this space, you need experienced insight from a guide who understands how complex this industry can be. With practical tools, industry knowledge, and a scalable and strategic process, you will be able to create a game plan to ensure you are pursuing opportunities that get you the federal dollars you want. In short, you need to find your edge over your competitors and build a strategy around it.
Understanding the Five Ps it Takes to Win
To win in federal contracting, you need to understand that losses will happen, there are no guarantees, and the landscape is ever-evolving. Founded by Krystn Macomber, Summit Strategy built a pursuit process that’s effective, tailorable, and helps a diverse client base win more work—from global enterprises to woman-owned small businesses. It’s a process coined Your Strategic Edge.
1. Plan: Understand Your Market and Your Target Audience
Proper planning is key and requires strategic alignment with your end goal from inception. You need to know your market, figure out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), identify target clients, and write a business plan.
Carry out a SWOT analysis:
As any proposal team knows, things quickly change every year, maybe even monthly. A good SWOT analysis allows you to ask tough questions:
- Are you reaching your full potential as a team?
- How is the market changing?
- Are you adapting in the ways you need to succeed?
- Where are competitors encroaching on your business?
Identify clients to target:
Many potential contracts/projects/clients are associated with and connected to the federal government. Identifying your ideal candidate and client type to move your business forward is essential. Using tools like Federal Compass can be a game-changer to enhance your capture strategy. They are a SaaS platform that enables strategy, growth, and process for federal contractors to land more contracts and can make an enormous difference in your pursuit process.
Write your business plan:
Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. It may be cliche, but the truth still rings true. The business plan format does not matter, but make sure to include a market analysis, key clients and must-win pursuits, growth strategies, and your marketing plan.
2. Position: Optimize Your Marketing Strategy to Support Your Pursuit Strategy
Once you have developed a plan, you are ready to establish your expertise in the federal market. At this stage, the proposal and marketing teams need to work together to solidify industry leadership and have the data to back it up.
Remember, federal proposal evaluators need to know and understand that what you provide is different from your competitors. Think about ways you can leverage your marketing toolbox (i.e., case studies, blog posts, etc.) and how you can use them to elevate your brand and make your proposal stand out. This is where a tool like Federal Compass can be a difference maker when presenting the case that your solution is unique.
Five key questions to ask to help build your pursuit strategy:
- What do we know about the opportunity?
- With whom do we have relationships?
- Who is our team, and where have we done this before?
- What’s our win strategy?
- How can we leverage marketing channels to pre-position?
3. Propose: Define What it Takes to Draft a Winning RFP Response
Once you have received the RFP, it is time to get to work, right? Not yet. First, you must establish (or re-confirm) whether the RFP is worth pursuing. There are many RFPs available for federal contractors to consider, so it is essential to ensure you are investing your team’s limited time and resources in the opportunities you can win. This is another example where Federal Compass can be an invaluable asset for you and your team by providing a robust, market-based context for your proposal.
Define win themes:
Use the Issues, Features, Benefits, and Proofs (IFBP) formula to get to the heart of your client’s pain points and how you can uniquely solve them.
Review, review, review:
This should always be the case anytime you are creating a proposal. Routinely check with team members who are not actively involved in the process to ensure your draft proposal is heading in the right direction.
4. Persuade: Be Prepared for the Interview
You have submitted the proposal, made the shortlist, and now it is time for the RFP finalist presentation/interview or Best and Final Offer (BAFO). No matter your strong showing so far, you can still win or lose the contract here, so it is critically important to have a game plan for demonstrating why you should be awarded.
Continue doing your homework:
While your proposal was likely about your qualifications and technical approach, your interview should be all about what you have done and how it pertains to the client, and the benefits that will receive from working with you. Paint them a picture of what it will look like by selecting you.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse:
Even if you are an expert presenter, being at your best and ensuring your entire team sounds (and looks) cohesive goes a long way toward landing the federal contracts you want.
5. Promote: Celebrate Your Win
Congratulations! You won the RFP! … Now get to work! Take some time to promote your win (with client approval, of course) with a press release, blogs, materials for conferences, and case studies.
The Strategic Edge to Win Federal Contracts
With the core foundations in place for Your Strategic Edge from Summit Strategy, you now have the tools you need to pursue federal contracts to elevate your brand and win more work. To take your federal contract pursuit to the next level, see how Federal Compass is best suited to guide you through finding, positioning for, and winning federal contracts for your business.
A recycled business development process and a legacy CRM system no longer meet the needs of today’s federal contractors. You need to merge marketing and sales by leveraging our simplified process and dovetailing that with the innovative technology and Federal Compass’ turnkey solution that delivers the industry’s most comprehensive market intelligence platform.
To learn more about how Federal Compass and Summit Strategy are partnering together to best showcase each client’s unique business case, click here.