Capturing and winning government contracts is a way to ensure a stable source of income for years to come. During lean economic times, government contracts can help keep the doors open, and during boom times, these contracts can fund expansion.
With that in mind, it is crucial to have a sales process in place that delivers signed contracts. No matter how good your existing strategy, however, you can always improve your process by following these four simple steps.
Start With a Strategic Plan Review/Design
A strategic plan helps your company focus on the contracts that best fit your company's capabilities. If you already have one, take some time to review it for clarity and updates. A new manufacturing partner, service expansion or other changes to your business should carry over into an updated strategic plan.
Even if your business has nothing new, the government is in a constant state of change. New opportunities may hit the pipeline, so always start your improvement process with a review of your existing strategy.
Review or Design the Budget
Capturing government contracts takes an upfront investment. You may need to hire a capture executive or an entire team to help with the process. You will need to allocate traveling expenses. The cost of the contract should also be figured into project budgets. Before you can move on to the next steps, you need a very clear idea of how low you can go on the price, even with the guarantee of several year's worth of business.
Map Your Sales Path
To go from a lead on a government contract to a signed deal, you need to follow the sales path through a series of repeatable steps. Most contracts start with a Request for Information (RFI) or Request for Proposal (RFP), but only after you have managed the entire capture process end to end. You need to make contact so the agency knows who you are and that you are interested in the contract.
Before responding to RFIs or RFPs, it is important to categorize potential leads as prime or sub. The most promising leads should get the most attention. Once you have your leads organized, it is time to consider the vehicles available to get the contract awarded.
You can develop an in-house capture management team or work with contract service providers. Both methods have their pros and cons. Working in-house means you may need to retrain existing employees to better manage the complexity of capture management. Outsourcing some of the capture management process can give you access to greater expertise and help by tying cost to successfully completed milestones. Regardless of the method you choose to manage your captured leads, you also need to implement a process to take over at the end of the contract bidding process.
Manage Expectations With Measurable Results
Results management is an integral part of the capture management cycle. Even if you do not land the contract, an assessment of your performance and follow up with the agency can give you a head start on the next bidding cycle. To get your capture management process running smoothly, you'll need to identify the most important measures for success and learn to manage your expectations.
No company lands every contract, but that doesn't mean you should stop pursuing these opportunities.
Every step in the right direction gets you closer to your government sales goal. Each of these four steps are designed to be used as part of a repeating cycle. Plan, budget, sell and manage the results before starting over. Constant assessment and readjustment helps you get better with every bid.