You’ve found an opportunity that’s right for your government contracting company and now the real fun begins - the RFP process. How can you ensure that your company is achieving all the milestones correctly, giving you the best chance at winning? In addition to knowing WHAT to do, you should also know what NOT to do when it comes to pursuing a government contract.
Not marketing your agency in advance. No matter how small your company is, you should make attempts to network with and show your capabilities to a potential agency customer before they release an RFP. This can be done by attending government trade shows and conferences, which allows you to form relationships with prospective customers ahead of time. However, don’t limit yourself to JUST trade shows. Make sure you’re setting up one-on-one meetings with the agency and understanding THEIR problems as opposed to strictly pushing your capabilities. Forming this initial relationship will help you greatly during the bid process.
Missing the draft solicitation. Oftentimes before the actual RFP is released by the government agency, they will send out a draft solicitation, or RFI. This gives potential vendors the opportunity to submit questions and get their company name out in front of the agency. This is also the time to determine whether or not you should commit the time and resources to pursue this bid. Don’t miss this chance to learn more about the RFP and network with the agency before you’re knee-deep in the bid response process.
Not utilizing the question and answer period. During the Q&A period, be sure to submit questions regarding anything that appears vague or ambiguous in the RFP language. If you rely purely on your own interpretation, it could affect whether or not your final proposal gets selected. Utilize this time to clarify all questions you have on the solicitation.
Not complying with solicitation requirements. Be sure your proposal addresses every requirement in the solicitation. While a well-written proposal is vital, it’s also important to meet the smaller criteria like naming subcontractors, certifications or staff experience. Make a checklist of all the requirements, then check them off as you go. This will keep your team organized and help you compile a winning proposal.
Not getting a debriefing. Regardless of whether or not a debriefing is required, you should always schedule one with the agency. The benefits of a debriefing if you do not win the award is learning where you may be able to improve next time. However, even if you win, you should still get a debriefing. This is a great time to interact with the agency you’re contracting with and identify any areas of concern early on.
Putting an RFP together can be quite time-consuming, but understanding and avoiding potential mistakes like the ones mentioned above can make a huge difference in winning a government award.
For more advice about the dos and don’ts of government bidding, click here.