What if we lived in an alternate universe where, to win a government contract you had to lose it worse than anyone else? Here's how you'd win.
This guest post is by Jim McCarthy, Principal Owner and Technical Director, AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI), a federal contracting proposal and business development consulting firm. Since 1983, KSI has helped clients win over $130 billion in federal contracts.
One where left is right, up is down, in is out, and good is bad.
Now suppose we wanted to win a government contract in this strange world. To win a government contract there, we would have to lose.
How would one go about it? Do the following:
- Jump into the fray late
- Rubber stamp your bid/no-bid process
- Assume that the job is yours to lose
- Perform no advance marketing or positioning whatsoever
- Demonstrate that you have absolutely no understanding of the mission
- Be blissfully ignorant of your customer's needs, wants. and challenges
- Stuff your proposal with exorbitant and unsubstantiated claims
- Tell your "story" instead of complying with RFP instructions
- Propose what you are selling instead of what the government is buying
- Select proposed key personnel only from among those sitting on the bench
- In so many words, tell the Government that its requirements are all wrong
- Bash your competition by name so as to make your company look good
- Bid a program manager that is unknown to the customer
- Claim exceptions and deviations to RFP requirements
- Make them search long and hard for your technical solution, if you even have one
- Assemble a jumbled team of subcontractors each vying for more work scope and FTEs
- Include contract references that are dissimilar in size, scope and complexity
- Blow the dust off and submit resumes sitting on the shelf
- Submit key personnel references but fail to inform them first
- Bring key personnel into the loop only after proposal submission
- Use only amateurs to prepare your proposal, especially SMEs who can't write
- Forget benefits to the customer, focus on features only
- Let writers invent their own themes
- Or better, have no themes
- Or better still, have too many themes
- Smatter conflicting data throughout the proposal
- Misspell the customer's name
- Ignore, camouflage or downplay existing conflicts of interest
- Include a top-heavy, clunky, and expensive-looking organization chart
- Price to lose – ridiculously high or ridiculously low
- Mitigate your risks, not your customer's
- Rely on boilerplate, the more the better
- Forget that diversity thing
- Imply that it is the customer at the root of all of its problems
- Write your proposal after hours and on weekends using part timers
- Engage the cheapest consultants money can buy
- Don't sweat details such as font size or page limitations
- Populate your review teams with those who don't know the customer
- Ensure review teamers do not read the RFP
- Offer nothing of value to your customer
- Be sure to use technical jargon, buzzwords, and undefined acronyms
- Use every inch of white space on a page
- Submit your proposal late, the Government won’t care.
Fortunately, we live in a universe where we don't have to lose to win. Yet, see if the any of the above strategies resonate. Why is it we so often seem hellbent on doing what we know we should not do in this universe? Can you think of others that I have left off the list?