What is the most valuable resource in GovCon?
It’s not money, or gold, or diamonds or agency connections. No. In GovCon, time is the most valuable resource. The time it takes for companies to actually figure out HOW to win a government contract is probably why so many companies decide either not to pursue GovCon or to abandon the market completely.
But – it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to waste time. You can avoid the GovCon School of Hard Knocks. Let me explain.
In my experience small businesses and companies new to GovCon choose to go it alone. They read some articles, talk to friends, family or government employees who make the process seem easy because it is based on fairness. This sounds great. So they go it alone.
But even though the process is based on fairness, it is complex and muti-faceted. There are lots of unwritten rules and norms.
In my experience businesses new to GovCon go through three stages in pursuing federal contracts.
The first stage is the reactive stage. Companies in this stage are new to the GovCon market and have little to no knowledge of who their prospective buyers are, or who their competition is. And they don’t know how to find this critical information. Strategy at this point is based almost entirely on chasing and pursuing so-called opportunities that they found on FBO – now beta.SAM.gov. This stage can last only a few months because a lot of people give up. But for serious players, this stage often lasts for a couple of years.
During this time, they write A LOT of cold proposals pursuing opportunities that have the same chance of winning as does a scratch off lottery ticket. This is because they don’t know the client or the client’s needs and concerns. The don’t know the agency’s purchasing history for their product or service. They don’t know about their competition. This is called cold “bidding”: bids submitted with no knowledge of what the prospect needs. These companies haven’t yet learned that the information in the solicitation/RFI/Sources Sought never tells the complete story about the prospect, the true requirements or the challenges the prospect is really facing. Frustration and confusion set it.
Now it is said that even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes. And this applies to GovCon also. Reactive companies sometime stumble into actually winning. They start to make progress by attending events where they pick up bits and pieces of information about the contracting rules driving the process. They make contacts in the government and with other contractors who are potential partners. They start to get a sense of the overall market, who is planning to buy what, how they are buying it, who they want to target, who they need to meet, and how they measure up against competitors.
Now, approximately one to two years into the process, they enter the proactive stage. Proactive companies become more discriminant in the opportunities that they pursue and the solicitations they respond to because they have some understanding of the players and the rules. This is progress, but – think of all the time lost that can never be regained. This is time that could have been spent making money and building a successful performance history.
After fumbling around and surviving the GovCon School of Hard Knocks for months or even years, they see that success lies in committing to learning the system, making contacts, finding out about client needs far in advance, AND the strengths and weaknesses of the competition before responding to a solicitation. Then they develop their unique process for building their pipeline. They put in place the essential support resources to help them excel in this market.
So, I ask you – which approach would you rather take? The DIY GovCon school of Hard Knocks wasting valuable time and resources? Or would you rather have a team of GovCon Coaches to show you the way so you can execute NOW?