#NVSBE2017 Learning Session: Wired! To Bid or Not to Bid?


[ Music ]>>So welcome. My name is Judy Bradt. I’m CEO of Summit Insight. And I’m also here
with the connection with the National Veterans
Small Business Coalition. Who here is a member already of the National Veterans
Small Business Coalition? Everyone else, especially if
you’re a veteran business owner, I hope that you will be. And I’m actually going to start
with 60 seconds to tell you why. National Veterans Small
Business Coalition is your voice on Capitol Hill. Numbers speak. And, so, if you want to make
sure that you have a voice on Capitol Hill, making sure
that Kingdomware is implemented, making sure that
opportunities are afforded to veteran business owners
in federal contracting. National Veterans Small Business
Coalition not only provides that advocacy, which alone is
worth the price of admission, but also offers matchmaking,
networking and education. Stop by booth 829
to find out more. I’m the Director of
Education and Training for the D.C. Chapter, which is
part of why I have connections to this community, and
I’m here to serve you. So with that, wired,
is that presentation — is that solicitation
headed for your competitors? And, if so, what
can you do about it? That’s what we’re
here to look at. So I bring you 30 years of
expertise in helping businesses in just about every industry with every federal agency
reach their federal buyers. And that’s all you need to
know about me for right now. If I had five words,
they’d be on the screen– Win more federal
business faster. If you go, “How do you do
that,” then talk to me. So here’s what we’re
going to cover. Why bid/no-bid matters, major
criteria for bid/no-bid, ten signs to tell whether or not something is
wired for somebody else. I’ve got a quick case study
from a veteran business owner, and how they approached
bid/no-bid, and what happened. And you’ll get a chance to opine on what you think
should have happened. And we’ll do some questions. Everybody good with that? All right. So hands up. I’d like to know when
you make a proposal, who spends under
$5,000 on a proposal? Hands up. Okay. Who spends 5 to 10
thou on a proposal? Okay. 10 to 30? 30 to 65? Who spends over
$65,000 on a proposal? I would actually ask,
“Who wishes they could,” but that’s a whole
different matter. So in time and sweat
equity the decision to make a proposal is a
significant one for any company. What makes them so expensive? Hands up. I need to
bring a mic to you so we can get it
on the recording. Rich, what’s one thing that
makes proposals expensive?>>Opportunity cost.>>Opportunity cost. You could be doing
something else. You’ve only got so
many hours in the day. What’s going to return
your investment? Steve?>>What he said, but
non-billable hours.>>Non-billable hours. Yeah. We’re business owners. The biggest surprise of owning
a business is the amount of your time you spend doing
non-revenue generating stuff. It is staggering. What else? Something else that makes
proposals expensive. Hands up. What else? Gary.>>Solicitations that
don’t give you help.>>Solicitations that
don’t give you help. As in they’re not
informative, and you have to waste all your
time guessing things.>>Exactly.>>Yeah. What else, Greg?>>Maybe hiring consultants
to help you.>>You may be hiring
consultants to help you. And, by the way,
you can’t hire me to help you with your proposal. You couldn’t pay me enough
money to do a federal proposal. All right. But I know people who do. What else makes proposals
expensive? Julia.>>The research [inaudible].>>The research. The time. Sometimes you
have to pay for research. Sometimes you have to
spend time to do it. All of those things. And that’s for every
single proposal. Because if you’re not
making a proposal, probably you’re not
putting yourself out there. The money’s probably
not coming in. Opportunity cost was the number
one thing that people mentioned. And you’re absolutely right. So I love this picture. I did a session for the
Procurement Technical Assistance Center officers in Montana. And I asked them
to do a flowchart. I gave them a big
piece of masking tape. And I said, “What are all the
key points that happened?” This is my favorite point. They wrote it. I didn’t. And, so, win rates. If you know your win
rate at all, okay, these figures will
not leave the room. You can look straight ahead. I’m the only one who’s seeing. Okay? Who’s winning over 75%? Who’s winning 50 to 75%? 30 to 50? Who’s winning
30 to 50? Congratulations. Get these people’s cards. Who’s winning 10 to
30% of what you do? Candidly, who’s winning
less than 10% of what you’re putting
out there? I don’t blame you for not
putting your hands up. I get that. And, typically, the federal
market average is 1 in 4. 1 in 4. And if you’re doing
that well, congratulations. but it’s hard. Major criteria for
bid/no-bid include these. I’m going to take them away now. And ask you, “What
are your top criteria when you’re deciding whether
you’re bidding something?” Yeah?>>What type of evaluation.>>What type of evaluation. Tell me more about that.>>Is it best value trade-off
or is it [inaudible].>>Is it best value or low
price technically acceptable? That’s one good criterion. What else? Somebody else. What other criteria do you use? Yes?>>Do I know the customer?>>Do I know the customer? Yeah, baby. Okay. Rick, what else?>>Do I have their
past performance?>>Do I have the
relevant past performance? There’s nothing that gets a
buyer more excited than the fact that you’ve solved
their problem, for someone who looks just
like them, yesterday afternoon. The closer you get to that, the more excited
they’re going to be. What else? Criteria for bid/no-bid. What else do you think about? Gary.>>If your win probability
is higher than the low end than what you would be
doing with that time if you weren’t doing
that proposal.>>If your win probability
is better than whatever else you’d be
doing with that same time.>>Exactly.>>Excellent. Yes. What else? What other criteria do
you use for bid/no-bid? Yes?>>[Inaudible] I
guess the return on the value of the opportunity.>>The value of the opportunity. Is it worth my time to pursue? Good criteria. So those are some of the
ones that when I work with clients these are typical. Okay. And if you have
given a card to Julia, I will also make sure
that I email you the link to this presentation, but you
can take all the links and notes and screenshots you like. Me, I’m a note-taking lifeform. If I’m not taking notes, a part
of my brain is panicking going, “How am I going to
remember this?” So it’s okay to take notes, too. But those are some major
criteria that you may want to consider in bid/no-bid. But is something wired
for somebody else? This is a savvy audience. So you know that by the time
something hits a bid board, or the well-meaning email from
someone who says they care about you, and the
first time you hear about it is in that email. And you don’t know the buyer. And you don’t know the budget. And you don’t know
the incumbent. And you don’t know the history, your odds of winning are
in the single digits. Okay. This is not news
to anyone in this room. So if something is wired for
the incumbent, how can you tell? Here’s some criteria
to keep in mind. The first can be is it
set aside for something that doesn’t apply to you. That would be a sign. Right? Now, you may be in
an environment where lots of things are set aside
for veteran-owned business, or service-disabled
veteran-owned small business. So that might not necessarily
screen anything out. In other federal agencies,
besides the VA, as well as other opportunities,
you may find that something is
indeed set aside for something that isn’t you. So that’s one sign. Okay? You can look for that one. A second one. Proprietary technology. It’s great if it’s
something that you’ve got. If it isn’t, it suggests that
somebody has been there first. Poorly written RFP. I like this one. Make posters to put on wall. Make reportings. Good luck. This is something
else I captured from a Procurement
Technical Assistance Center that was talking about
bad advice that they see in the street that vendors get. So if there’s a poorly written
RFP, what does that tell you? [ Inaudible Speakers ] Say again?>>The incumbent already
knows what it’s about. They just have to
write [inaudible].>>The incumbent already
knows what it’s about. So they don’t really need much
in the way of instruction. What else does a poorly
written RFP tell you?>>It’s going to be
hard for you to respond.>>It may be hard for you
to respond if you aren’t that insider incumbent. What else does a poorly
written RFP tell you?>>They need help [inaudible].>>They need help. Sometimes do you think, how many of you have met a
contracting officer who seems a little
bit overwhelmed? A lot. Most of the time, the
vast majority of the time, they are doing the
best they can. We might complain about the
caliber of the expertise of the contracting officer
in that other chair, but things wouldn’t be any
better if that chair were empty. So they’re doing
the best they can. So sometimes they simply
don’t have as much background as they might have wanted. So sometimes it can
be a sign for help. It comes back to something else,
Rick, that you said earlier. How well do I know the customer? If it’s poorly written and
it’s somebody that you know, that’s a whole different
message than it’s poorly written and they’re strangers.>>Could it also mean that the
customer actually doesn’t know what they need [inaudible]?>>Do you think it might mean that the customer doesn’t
know what they need? Does that happen? Every day. And, so, it’s interesting
as well if you’re looking at the solicitations
that a given point of contact is issuing over time,
and you’re seeing, you’re trying to build a relationship,
and, so, you’re seeing over time a whole series of
poorly written statements of work and RFPs out of a single
office, or from a single person. That gives you another clue
for kind of a conversation that you might be able
to have with that person. Because I want you to remember that the success
comes in three steps. And these are linear. They need to happen in
this order if you want to make the best use of
your time and your money. First research. Second relationships. Third requirements. If you’re chasing requirements
first, you’re putting yourself at a real disadvantage. Gary?>>It could also be a sign that when you win your
contracting officer who doesn’t quite know what
he’s doing could be a typical customer you’ll work for.>>Very good. If you win and the RFP
was poorly written, you may be struggling right
from the word go if the buyer and the contracting officer
really didn’t know what they wanted. How do you win a game
when you don’t even know where the goalpost is? Anybody had a project where you’ve had constantly
changing specifications, and no matter what you do
the client is never happy?>>Yeah.>>That’s not the rock we want.>>That is not the
rock you want. These are not the
contracts you’re looking for. Exactly right. Exactly right. So it’s worth thinking about. Do you want to fire the
client before they even become a client? Take them off the list. You want to make money, but you
also don’t want to be in agony. And walking away from something,
these are hard things. To shift your mindset from, “If I don’t bid everything
I will have nothing,” to, “What’s going to be good for me
where I can make a difference, provide value, build my team
and be good for the client?” Key personnel emphasis. What does this tell you?>>They know who they want.>>They know who they want. We have a chorus. I like that. That’s right. And I’ve heard many times just in the last 24 hours the
frustration people have with a competitor coming
in, lowballing and 30, 40, 50% or all of the
personnel simply exit, because they don’t want to
be paid 30% less or 40% less. And then the project fails. Do you want to be there? Probably not. Hard situations. We’re talking about
what things to walk away from in a lot of cases. On the other hand, if they’ve
emphasized key personnel, and you are the incumbent,
that may not be a bad thing. It’s worth remembering as well. So each of these can
work for and against you. If you have rock
star key personnel, this is also something
to keep in mind when you’re building
relationships. Each of these things that we
talked about, many of the things that we talked about
can be differentiators that you can build into your
conversations from the word go. Is it wired for someone
else, or is it wired for you? Think about it. Are your person — is your
client — who’s got staff – who’s got personnel that your
client loves your contract manager, loves your
program manager? Who’s got people that
your client loves on site? That should be one of
the key talking points that you emphasize. Those personnel, what
qualifications do they have, what’s your staff retention
rate, how long have they been in those jobs, how long have
they been in that agency. Those are things
that can help you, the next time, set
yourself apart. How bad would it be if your
buyer had evaluation criteria for staff must have an average
of five years with your company, or three years working
with our agency. It’s a small thing. Your competition might
miss that, but you know if that hook is there,
they’re trying to say, “Make it easy for
me to pick you.” Past performance. Such a big topic. So what are the signs that past
performance suggests they want someone else? Yeah? [ Inaudible Speaker ]>>They rank it higher
than other things. All right. What else?>>Total number of
past performances.>>Total number of
past performances. Yeah. Greg?>>It’s overly restrictive so
that very few people have it.>>It’s overly restrictive
so very few people have it. What’s an example of that?>>I want three contracts
with this agency in this office that’s
doing this type of work.>>Must have three
contracts with this agency in the last two years
doing this type of work. Yeah. Other examples. Yeah, Pam? [ Inaudible Speaker ]>>Mileage requirement as in must have installed
solar rooftops less than 7.5 miles from the site. Yeah. What else? Yup. So location. Must be less than 100 yards
outside the chain link fence at Pax River. Yeah. [ Inaudible Speaker ]>>Past performance
helps reduce risk. So past performance is
absolutely a legitimate thing, and you really want to see that. I’d be surprised if there’s no
past performance requirement, you’d be scratching your head. Now think about it
the other way. Think about your own
past performance. What are some examples
of work that you’ve done that you could describe in a way that could encourage a
contracting officer to put that line in the
evaluation criteria? What are some examples? [ Inaudible Speaker ] Proven. Be more specific. So something that’s
quantifiable, verifiable, third-party accreditation. What’s some examples?>>See power ratings.>>See power ratings. That’s one. What else? Yeah. [ Inaudible Speaker ] Say again please.>>Helped an acquisition
office [inaudible].>>Helped a procurement
acquisition office reduce their lead time, procurement
acquisition lead time. Paul, that’s a new term. Thank you. I learned a new thing today. Yeah.>>[Inaudible] on track where
there were very few companies that could have managed or had experience managing
100-person effort [inaudible] for very small companies
[inaudible].>>So you need to have
experience managing 100-person effort. So is that an experience
that you have?>>Yeah. An experience that we
have is on a past performance. They were looking for evidence that very few small companies
could possibly provide.>>Right.>>And we happened to be
one of the [inaudible].>>Now did they know? You said that the
criteria that they put in the solicitation was you had to have managed 100-person
effort. So they knew that that
was something you did?>>They subsequently did because
they had industry [inaudible] and that was one of the
questions in the dialogue.>>Okay.>>So when they were doing
their market research that was a question that
manifested itself in that–>>Good. So I want
to encourage you. That’s a great example that
you can manage 100-person team. How many people in the room
here can manage 100-person team? Some. But that’s a lot. So in a room of maybe 50
people we have maybe 6 who put up a hand. So that’s a clear
differentiator. And you don’t even know whether
these people even do what you do. So clearly that’s a great
example of something that really lets you come up. How about something like CMMI3? There you go. Those are differentiators. So that’s not a past
performance thing. Past performance. What’s another example
of past performance from your own experience that you know you could
tell somebody about, and they could say, “Oh, yeah. I can put that line in there
to make it easy to pick you”? What else. Yeah?>>[Inaudible] require contracts
of $30 million to be relevant and $40 million to
be very relevant.>>Okay. So the size
of your past projects. That’s another one. So think about the size of
the sweet spot of the project that if you could be
awarded you could, if I were the magical
contract fairy and I could award you the
contract of your dreams. Fairy tales always have an “if.” Right? You notice that? If you have the stuff,
the staff, the space, the servers to perform
all of it right now. So think about the size
of what that contract is, your sweet spot size
of contract. You want to be able to talk
about that as something that the contracting
officer can specify and be really comfortable that you can do really
well Yeah, Steve? Did you have one? [ Inaudible Speaker ] Bonding capacity. Exactly. What a great thing. It can be a real sticking point. So I’ve had clients
who can say, “You know, I have a $50 million bond.” These kinds of things
help you stand out. Exactly so. Proposal deadline. You see something come out
and there’s two weeks to go. It comes out on a
Friday afternoon. Not a whole lot of time. And it’s a complex requirement. What’s that tell you? [ Inaudible Speaker ] Wired. Anybody get a call
from a contracting officer on Thursday afternoon
asking for a bid by Friday? How special do you
feel the first time? So here’s what to do. All right? You say, “Hey, I’d
love to help you.” Be friendly. “I’ve got a family reunion
planned for this weekend. Should I cancel my plans?” If the response is, “Well.” If they’re hesitating
sometimes the thing that the buyer most
needs is a loser bid. They really do need something that isn’t going
to break your back. But they need the
file to look perfect. They need to look like
competition has taken place. If it’s not going to break
you, and you have the ability to do something that
is competent, that represents you well,
that’s an opportunity. What are you going
to trade for that? [ Inaudible Speaker ] Something down the road. They can’t promise that. What can you ask for? I can help you. Sure. What are you
going to ask for? [ Inaudible Speaker ] You could ask for an extension. Something even easier. What could you ask for? You’re taking your time. You’re putting it out there. You’re going to help
them with their file. What could they give
you in return? [ Inaudible Speaker ] [ Laughter ] Enterprising, aren’t we? Yes? [ Inaudible Speaker ] Yes. You get a prize. We have prizes. Exactly right. Asking for a debrief, asking
for a meeting afterward. You get prizes. When do you get to a presentation
they give you prizes? Exactly right. So that is the number one thing,
because you want to be able to realize something from your
efforts, build the relationship. Because it’s an opportunity
for them to teach you, get a debriefing and a meeting. Even better. Get both of those things. The hat trick is you get
a chance to win later. That’s all of it. RFP comes out on a Friday. They’re hiding it. They’re hoping nobody sees it. Sometimes — anybody
bid something through Reverse Auction
or FedBid? Anybody? Reverse
Auction is interesting. Thirty percent of the time
there’s only one offer. Did you know that? Reverse Auction can be
a place that a buyer who is really busy
will put a requirement, they’ll tell the bidder that
they want where to find it, and they’re really hoping
almost nobody else finds it. One of my clients won a $2
million project that way in disaster response
contracting. So be aware that that’s another
place where things can show up. No pre-solicitation. Combined synopsis solicitation. This happens a lot in
fourth quarter especially. Another example that they’ve
got a pretty good idea of who it is that they want. Anybody ever see really weird
NAICS codes on something? Or you see the NAICS codes
changed at the last minute. [ Inaudible Speaker ] NAICS codes changed and you have
a hard time seeing how the NAICS codes that are assigned
match the work. If an NAICS code gets changed at the last minute what
could that be meaning?>>The company they want outgrew
the NAICS code [inaudible].>>The company they want might
have outgrown the NAICS code. What else could it mean? [ Inaudible Speaker ] They could have gotten overruled
on the NAICS code they wanted. It may be that they
realized that the company that they want is not going
to be considered small if they leave it in that
NAICS code, so they move it to another one, for example. They really want their bidder
to make a size standard so they can limit
the competition. Exactly right. So watch for non-germane
NAICS codes, or things that get
flipped at the last second. That’s an indicator. It doesn’t mean it’s
wired for somebody else. But it’s enough to
raise your eyebrows, and have you think twice. Statement of work. You’re chuckling. Why are you chuckling, Rich?>>Most of us have opened the
properties on a PWS and seen X, Y, Z Company as the author.>>How many people
have done that? Hands up. You’ve done it. Opened the document properties
on the Word document or the PDF, and you see the document author. You now have a new
secret weapon. Always open the document
properties. Whose fingerprints
are on that thing? And when you write it take
your fingerprints off of it. Make sure that a white paper
is truly a white paper. We forget what a white paper is. That’s what it is. No signs of origin,
thank you very much. So that gives you some
idea of who’s been sniffing around the neighborhood. Exactly right. Requirements for
contract performance. Are they very specific? Or if it’s you, you
know, for example, if you’re doing performance
improvement. I have a great client who is
able to do process improvement for a particular kind of
software in Oracle and SAP that he can improve
system performance by 86%. Wow. To be able to say that
as a performance criterion is very powerful. So think about the things that
you can quantify in the way that you serve your clients. You’ve got case studies. You have data. You’re able to share
that information early on in the relationship building, so that your prospects can
make it easy to choose you. So that’s another
thing to keep in mind. If you see it wired for
somebody else you’ll know that these are all things that
you can also do to influence, to make it easy, when
they’re behind closed doors to say, “These are the guys.” Contracting officers
really want, the buyers want three
things– follow the rules, make it easy, make me look good. Follow the rules, make it
easy, make me look good. Follow the rules means can I
absolutely justify the choice of this vendor, and
my chances of protest or somebody coming
back are real low. So being able to have
really good criteria to make it easy to choose you. You want to help them,
because they want you. So we’ve got a quick
summary chart that brings all of this stuff together. Incumbent. How happy is the agency
with their vendor? I’ve had a lot of circumstances
where people have said, “Hey, you know, I’ve got a
team with the incumbent because then I’m going
to be successful.” In reality incumbents are
winning less often these days. Set aside. Does it favor the incumbent or was it changed
at the last minute? Proprietary technology
gives an advantage to those who have the technology, and
shuts everybody else out. It is a way to really narrow
the competition if you’re one of the few that has a
really special approach. Another tip. If you have a way
that you do things, it’s a systematized process, it’s a methodology,
document it, name it. It’s the Seven Vets system. “Oh, well, we have to
have the Seven Vets system or we’re not going
to be as successful. Right?” So brand it. Talk about it. Make sure that people
really have, get your thought
leadership out there. Talk about your system. Or approach your methodology
that you’re going to be writing about it, blogging about it. Make sure people know
about it so that they know that they’re going to have
better results and lower risk when they do it with
your system. We talked about poorly written
RFPs that favor the incumbent that knows what the buyer wants. Key personnel emphasis. Are you going to be able
to rehire key personnel and pay them fairly
so they stay? We’re not going to talk
about people who lowball for the privilege
of performing badly. We’re going to pretend those
people aren’t in the room. Specific past performance. Does it favor the incumbent? Under 30 days to bid. If there’s a big project, competitors have
probably started. RFP out on a Friday. No pre-solicitation. Non-germane requirements. These are all things
that are signs. They don’t mean that you
have, they don’t mean no-bid. They should raise a yellow flag. If you don’t have answers to why these things are
happening get answers before you bid. I’ve got a case study that
I want to present to you so you can think about
what you might have done. Kim Plyler’s a Navy
veteran in Pennsylvania. She had past performance with the Navy doing a
smart card/common access card technology. She was offering systems that would let overseas veterans
vote, do absentee balloting or voting in elections. She did voting systems
in South Dakota, Northampton County,
Pennsylvania. So the opportunity was
with DOD military voting. She responded to a sources
sought where they were trying to find out are there
any small businesses that can do this thing. There was a previous incumbent. And they did want
some past performance. She had some of the past
performance that they needed, but not all of the
past performance. So she thought she really needed
to team with a past incumbent in order to make sure
that she ticked the box on the past performance. So she had lots of
relationships with the buyers. So that was a right thing. She really had been
talking to them. And, so, she teamed with
a subcontractor then that had the past performance. When she debriefed though she
lost by exactly the amount of money that she had to
give to her subcontractor to buy the past performance. When she had asked the
contracting officer and they said to her, “How
important is past performance?” They didn’t tell her,
“You’re going to be ineligible if you don’t have it.” It was a really tough situation. And oddly enough she was
happy with that outcome, which is really hard and
very generous on her part, because it was her
first federal bid. She had really used it
as a learning exercise. And, so, she’s got
post-debriefing opportunities now at this point. So in this case study
where can she go from here? We have prizes for
every good suggestion. All right? So when you think about what you
can get out of having invested that time and money in
that opportunity, hands up, who’s got a thing that
you can do from there? Greg.>>In our market you don’t know
the winning price unless you bid it. So there was no [inaudible]
or nowhere you can go to find out the winning bid unless
you were one of the bidders. So knowing the winning price
is sometimes very important in calibrating your next bid.>>So use what you
learned to calibrate for the next bid what
kind of pricing works. You get a prize. Okay. What else can
you learn from this? Yes.>>Better negotiation tactics
going forward [inaudible].>>Better negotiation tactics
going forward with your subs. That’s a good one, because
I think she was really new to the negotiating
with the subs. And, so, it was a
tough game to play. You get a prize. That’s a really good suggestion. I like it very much. Thank you. What else? Yeah, Mark.>>Where’d my proposal go weak
and how can I improve on them?>>Where were my proposals weak
and how could I improve on them? Was it just the price or
was there something else? Who here wins and
gets a debriefing? Anybody? You are
very smart people. Always. Because you can win,
thank you, you get a prize, because you can win
on a technicality. The win isn’t the whole thing. What if you win and the buyer
really, really didn’t want you? You’re behind from the start. Who wants to be the person
that everybody holds their nose when you walk into the room? Be humble. Show that you want
to learn more. No bid is perfect. Exactly right. [ Inaudible Speaker ] Yeah. You could be the
best of five bad proposals. That’s a very good
way to put it, Rich. So what else can you learn
from that opportunity? Somebody else won. What opportunity
does that offer you? Yes, Pamela. [ Inaudible Speaker ] So sometimes the debriefing– [ Inaudible Speaker ] Sometimes you don’t get very
much from the debriefing. Still what does that tell you? What opportunities are there? You’re right. She should be getting
a debriefing. [ Inaudible Speaker ] Maybe you might not want to
work with that buyer again if they’re really, really locked
into a vendor that they love. I like that. You get a prize. Woah. Okay. And how about you? Yes. [ Inaudible Speaker ] An opportunity for
surge capacity. Gosh. Somebody else won. Well, be good natured. Maybe they will need
extra staff. I love that one. There can be business
even in being the backup. You really want to know. Gosh. All kinds of
times somebody wins and they perform badly. You want to be in the wings. You want to be able to
provide help, hand holding, whatever it is they need. Make sure that contracting
officer knows you’re there for them. Absolutely right. One more. Yes.>>Learn more about who won and
what they offer that you don’t.>>Learn more about who won and
what they offer that you don’t. At the very least you
may be able to team with them on something else. So be good natured. Exactly right. Great ideas. Here’s some of the things
that we talked about. Prime’s weaknesses. What do they do poorly? You might have thought,
“How did those people win? We’re so much better.” That’s right. Pay attention to those things. Stay in touch with the buyer,
the contracting officer. “Hey, how are they performing
on on-time reporting?” “You know, they suck at it.” Gap and surge capacity. What other projects
might be coming up? “Gosh, I really would have loved
to do this project for you. If you were me who would
you be talking to?” How bad is that? Cultivating the relationship. This contract was a base
plus two years of options. Are options always picked up? No. They are not. So you’ve got opportunities
to make friends, because you’ve got a
pot of money there. In two years two-thirds of that
money may still be something you can nibble at. It’s a long game. It matters. Use a checklist. I am not the most systematic
lifeform on the planet. I am not. But there are
some important things that I use a checklist for. When I’m getting in an
airplane and I’m getting ready to take off I use a checklist. Pilots use checklists. Surgeons use checklists. EMTs use checklists. This is an important
part of your business. You should have at least one
checklist for bid/no-bid. And you probably have them
for a lot of other things. You have a proposal library. Have a checklist library. Who here is a pilot? All right. So do you know there’s
not just one checklist, there’s a whole book of
checklists that pilots have. Especially the one with the
little slashes in the red around the outside for in
case of really bad stuff. You really want to
know where that page of the checklist is even if
you don’t want to be using it. So a checklist for
all occasions. It is capturing your
lessons learned. It’s making sure you
don’t forget the stuff. I have a checklist when
I pack for conferences. I bet most of you do, too. Sample checklist. I have one for you. This is something
that you can download. It will calculate
weighted stuff. So it’ll do math for you. You can at least start. It’s not a perfect one. Make sure that you
adapt the checklist to what makes sense for you. Okay? And if you have given
your business card to Julia, I will make sure that you get
an email that has this link, so that you can go click
and you can get the thing. This actually is part of a
70-page strategy workbook that you can use and reuse. So it goes with my book “Government Contracts
Made Easier.” And, so, get all of that. So your checklist is unique. Make sure you adapt it for
your experience, your agencies. And fine tune it after your own
debriefs, or in your hot wash at the end of the year. This is a great time of year
to be going and looking back. How can you do more of what
worked and less of what didn’t? If you’re interested in a
done-for-you hot wash kit, you’ve got a card, if you’ve
put your card in the bag, I’m going to send you a link. You can download it. And you can use it in the next
few weeks as you’re talking to your team about what are we
going to do more of and less of. Companies that are successful in
this market all do three things. First, they get their
competitive analysis nailed down so that you know who’s
buying, how they’re buying, how much they’re buying,
and who they’re buying from. That lets you focus
so you don’t go broke. Because focus or go
broke is the watchword for the federal market. The second thing that people who are successful do is they
learn how to build relationships with the players at every layer. There are five people you need
to meet in every single office and circumstance and agency
where you want to do business. It’s partly why it’s so
hard to win business, because if you’re all over
the place you don’t have an opportunity to build good
solid relationships with people at all the layers in every
single place you are. If that’s what you’re struggling
with more focus helps you. But how do you get inside
the heads and the offices of people who’ve
never heard of you who are already doing
business with somebody else? What do you do? What do you say? What do you ask? That’s a learnable skill. People who are successful
figured that out, or get help figuring
it out a lot faster. The third thing that people do who are successful is they build
a structured federal sales plan. It’s not a to-do list. It lays out for you who you know
and who you don’t know as well so you can start
to connect those. Get the people that you know to
help you, open doors for you. And the intelligence
that you’ve gathered in your competitive analysis is
able to give you lots of things to talk about as you
get to know people. Because it’s going to
take you anywhere from 1 to 15 conversations
happen between, “Hi. You’ve never heard of me. And here’s my cape statement,”
to “Hey, would you look at my invoice before we submit
it so we get paid on time?” There’s another 14
conversations in there. What are those? It’s not, “Hey, you got any? You got any? You got any? You got any?” No. So it’s got to
be something else. And that’s a learnable skill. So those are the three things
that everybody’s got to do. If some of those are things
that you’re wondering, “How could I do that a
little better,” let’s talk. So here we covered a lot. We covered why bid/no-bid
matters. Bids are expensive. They are opportunities. All of us have limited resources
whether we’re two people in a garage or we’re
Northrop Grumman. You’ve got to choose. We had great ideas
for major criteria. You got a checklist
of ten different ideas for yellow flags
to say, “Hey, wait. I need to think about
this carefully first.” We did a little bit
of case study. You got a sample checklist
and some next steps. You happy? I hope so. This is what I do. As you came in I gave
you a session survey. I would love to know more
about what I can do better, what other topics
that you’d like. And we have a drawing. Miss Julia, will you
please bring our bag here? Because you left business
cards someone here is going to walk away with, anybody
else not put a card in? Oh, more cards. “Government Contracts
Made Easier” is my book. And I’m working on a revision. So there are things like
mentor-protégé and some of the set-aside
programs that have changed since I published it in 2010. But thousands of people
have found this is helpful. And you can get one on
Kindle if you want one. And for me it’s just
something that is great for propping up furniture. It’s an excellent doorstop. And it’s highly conversational
and chatty if you actually want
something different to read besides your
airline magazine in the front of your
seat pocket. [ Inaudible Speakers ] Anybody else? All right. So this is my profession. As you can tell this
is what I love to do. There are lots of people who
will give you a data dashboard or things to download. And I work with people who want
an exquisite custom experience in working, somebody here
[inaudible] over there. Okay. Somebody who
really wants somebody by your elbow helping you
figure out what’s good for you, connecting with your people. That’s the kind of conversation
I’d love to have with you. I am here until the
end of the day. And I would love to
talk to you if you would like to have a conversation. It’s my pleasure. Julia.>>Got them all.>>Okay. All right. [inaudible] oh, yup. All right. And you can leave an
evaluation on the front table, or give it to Miss
Julie when you’re done. All right. We are going to do
a draw for this. All right, Miss Julie. You all right? Who have we got?>>Oh, thank you.>>You’re hoping, bud.>>Jean Frazier [assumed
spelling].>>Jean Frazier. Congratulations, Jean. Here you go.>>Thank you.>>And I’ll give you
a pen and I’ll sign that for you if you’d like. The second best thing about books is being
able to autograph books. The best thing about having
a book is when someone like Jean comes back to me
a year later with the book, and it’s dog eared and it’s
tabbed and it’s highlighted. And someone says, “This
made a difference for me,” That’s the best thing
about having a book. I want to thank you so
much for being here, for bringing your ideas,
for sharing your pain. And please stay in touch. You’re released. Your time is up. But I hope our time
together is just beginning. [ Applause ] Thank you. I’ve got cards up
here if you want one. I’d love to get yours. [ Music ]

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