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Competitive Proposals That Win. February 28, 2007 W. George Szok. Winning Competitions. The Proposal Documents CANNOT win you the job if you haven’t established yourself as a logical winner in the Customers’ eyes before

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competitive proposals that win

Competitive Proposals That Win

February 28, 2007

W. George Szok

winning competitions
Winning Competitions
  • The Proposal Documents CANNOT win you the job if you haven’t established yourself as a logical winner in the Customers’ eyes before
  • The Proposal Documents CAN, however, ‘snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory’ if they’re non-responsive, unclear, or unconvincing
  • It’s called a Competition because:
    • There is something to win
    • There are Competitors
    • There are Rules which govern behavior
    • Someone keeps Score
  • To win, you must pay attention to all of the above
the ten commandments
The Ten Commandments
  • Develop and Understand Your Business’ Strategic Objectives
the ten commandments4
The Ten Commandments
  • Develop and Understand Your Business’ Strategic Objectives
  • Know your Competitors – their Strengths & Weaknesses
the ten commandments5
The Ten Commandments
  • Develop and Understand Your Business’ Strategic Objectives
  • Know your Competitors – their Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Know your Customers, their Value Proposition, their near & long term Needs, Decision Makers
the ten commandments6
The Ten Commandments
  • Develop and Understand Your Business’ Strategic Objectives
  • Know your Competitors – their Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Know your Customers, their Value Proposition, their near & long term Needs, Decision Makers
  • Make Contact to let the Customers know YOU
the ten commandments7
The Ten Commandments
  • Develop and Understand Your Business’ Strategic Objectives
  • Know your Competitors – their Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Know your Customers, their Value Proposition, their near & long term Needs, Decision Makers
  • Make Contact to let the Customers know YOU
  • Understand Customers’ Acquisition Processand Upcoming Solicitations
the ten commandments cont d
The Ten Commandments - cont’d
  • Understand YOUR Product or Service – Features/Benefits, Weaknesses, Costs…
the ten commandments cont d9
The Ten Commandments - cont’d
  • Understand YOUR Product or Service – Features/Benefits, Weaknesses, Costs…
  • Document as much as possible BEFORE Solicitation Release – company, product,..
the ten commandments cont d10
The Ten Commandments - cont’d
  • Understand YOUR Product or Service – Features/Benefits, Weaknesses, Costs…
  • Document as much as possible BEFORE Solicitation Release – company, product,..
  • Begin Response BEFORE Solicitation Release – Start by Establishing WIN STRATEGY
the ten commandments cont d11
The Ten Commandments - cont’d
  • Understand YOUR Product or Service – Features/Benefits, Weaknesses, Costs…
  • Document as much as possible BEFORE Solicitation Release – company, product,..
  • Begin Response BEFORE Solicitation Release – Start by Establishing WIN STRATEGY
  • Develop the TOTAL SolutionReflecting Strategy: Technical, Program, Support, ..Price….
the ten commandments cont d12
The Ten Commandments - cont’d
  • Understand YOUR Product or Service – Features/Benefits, Weaknesses, Costs…
  • Document as much as possible BEFORE Solicitation Release – company, product,..
  • Begin Response BEFORE Solicitation Release – Start by Establishing WIN STRATEGY
  • Develop the TOTAL SolutionReflecting Strategy: Technical, Program, Support, ..Price….
  • FACTSbeforeDOCUMENTATION Don’t Write until you know what to write about
i develop and understand your business strategic objectives
I. Develop and Understand Your Business’ Strategic Objectives
  • What are your business Goals –
    • profit, growth via new markets, new products …….?
  • Why are you bidding to This Customer ?
    • - established relationship, new market, …?
  • Why bid This Opportunity vs. Others?
    • - strategic importance, your unique product, new market, P(win)….?
ii know your competitors their strengths weaknesses
II. Know your Competitors – their Strengths & Weaknesses
  • Who are your Competitors?
  • How well do you know each of them – their product/service, management, strategic goals, …..?
  • How do they compare with you on:
    • Product/service capability, maturity, reliability, cost, reputation (generally & with this customer)…..?
  • Have you competed against them?
    • Did you win (why); did you lose (why)? With this customer?
  • What do YOU think are their strengths and (exploitable) weaknesses?
  • How well does the customer know them? What is their reputation? What does the CUSTOMER think are their strengths and weaknesses?
  • Are they likely to compete against you in THIS opportunity? If so, what’s their win strategy?
iii know your customers
III. Know your Customers
  • Do you have a history of This Customer’s General buying habits? Past awards and decision rationale? Is Low Cost the most important criterion?
  • What is their Value Proposition? What are the Stated and Unstated Evaluation Criteria in THIS Competition?
  • What are their near & long term Needs?
  • Have you identified the key Source Selection Decision Makers?
    • Do you know their ‘hot button’ and biases?
    • Have you worked with all Decision Makers & what are your relationships?
iv make contact to let the customers know you
IV. Make Contact to let the Customers know YOU
  • Do you have a Customer Contact Plan?
  • Does it include ALL Decision Makers – Supporters as well as Detractors?
  • Are you matching your people with the Customers’ at the right levels?
  • Who is going to visit whom, towards what goal, and at the appropriate time?
  • Are your visits planned to benefit the customer – to give & to receive information – a ‘Structured Sales Call’?
v understand customers acquisition process and upcoming solicitations
V. Understand Customers’ Acquisition Process and Upcoming Solicitations
  • How does THIS Customer buy products or services? Is everything competed? If not, what are the justifications for Sole Source awards?
  • Have you been part of Previous Competitions with This customer?
  • What is the process followed by This Customer:
    • Does he solicit industry inputs?
    • Is he open to discussions – until when?
    • Does he release Draft Solicitations?
    • Does he favor FFP, CPFF, CPAF, CPIF contract types?
    • How onerous are the Contract Terms & Conditions?
  • When and How did you first find out about the Upcoming Solicitation?
vi understand your product or service features benefits weaknesses costs
VI. Understand YOUR Product or Service – Features/Benefits, Weaknesses, Costs…
  • Do you have an Honest Understanding of your product or service - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly?
    • Don’t drink your own bath water!
  • What are the Customers’ perceptions (more important than the truth)?
    • Technical Performance
    • Reliability, maintainability
    • Maturity, risk
    • Past experience and performance (they’re different)
    • Costs
  • Don’t confuse Features with Benefits
vii document as much as possible before solicitation release company product
VII. Documentas much as possible BEFORE Solicitation Release – company, product,..
  • Create a thorough description of each Product/Service you offer, defining:
    • Function/capability, applications,…
    • Performance
    • Development history, design maturity
    • Reliability, maintainability
  • Create a thorough description of your Company defining:
    • Business scope, range of products/services
    • Company history & Organization
    • Financial stability
    • Key personnel resumes
    • Client/Customer base
    • Program Performance as well as Experience
  • This will become:
    • the ‘fodder’ for creating a ‘qualification document’ through which your company will get on the bidders list, AND
    • The ‘fodder’ for creating proposal material in response to a specific solicitation
viii begin response before solicitation release
VIII. Begin Response BEFORE Solicitation Release
  • Use Draft Solicitation OR Postulate one
  • Start by Establishing a WIN STRATEGY – the basis on which you believe you can be selected over competitors
    • Areas: full compliance, highest performance, lowest risk, lowest maintainability, lowest cost, teaming,….?
    • Must reflect assessment of Competitors’ likely Win Strategy
    • MUST include a Price-to-Win
    • Don’t confuse GOALS (where I want to be) with STRATEGY (how I get there)
    • Don’t confuse STRATEGY (a message only for internal company consumption) with THEMES (messages in the Proposal for Evaluators’ consumption)
  • Don’t wait until the Solicitation is released before you start – you’ll never have enough time to do the job right
ix develop the total solution reflecting strategy technical program support price
IX. Develop the TOTAL SolutionReflectingStrategy: Technical, Program, Support, Price….
  • Let the Win Strategy DRIVE the FACTS of your proposal – NOT vice versa
  • FACTS (the Integrated Baseline) include:
    • Technical Approach (WHAT, HOW): description, specification, evidence of performance, design maturity/risk, R/M/S, T&E, processes,….
    • Program Design (WHO, WHEN, WHERE, HOW): specific to the program being bid; includes organization, personnel, schedule, processes, deliverables, support concept; SOW, IMP, IMS
    • Management Plan (ability to perform) – NOT necessarily specific to the program being bid; includes facilities, tools, fiscal stability, past performance, ….
    • Cost/Price includes: WBS, CLINs, BOEs, …..
  • Note that the WHYs are missing here, yet MUST be captured (trade studies ?) for inclusion in Proposal Documents
x facts before documentation don t write until you know what to write about
X. FACTSbeforeDOCUMENTATIONDon’t Write until you know what to write about
  • Let the Solicitation DRIVE the Documents – AND reflect the FACTS
    • Section L - Instructions for Proposal Structure & Content
    • Section M – Evaluation Criteria (areas, factors, weighting)
  • Create a Content Compliance Matrix – to map EVERY requirement to a Document Section & Subsection
  • Start with developing and reviewing Storyboards or Module Specifications – to define Objective of a ‘proposal chunk’
  • The Storymap: Allocate document ‘real estate’ to Section/Subsections
  • Define ‘Art’ first, then sketch the art, then create final art
  • Write in Bullets first, then review, then fill in Text last
  • Include an Objective Red Team Review
parting thoughts
Parting Thoughts
  • Winners Plan Ahead and Start Early
  • Winners Know Why They Are Bidding
  • Winners Develop a Coherent and Effective Strategy
  • Winners Address the Customer’s Needs
  • Winners Treat the Proposal as a Selling Document, Not a Technical Tour-de-force
  • Winners Sell Benefits, Not Features
  • Winners Produce Proposals That Are Well Written, Visually Effective, and Highly Effective

Winners Do What Losers Think is Too Hard

getting government funding
Getting Government Funding

Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)

&

Small Business Technology TRansfer (SBTR)

“The purpose of DoD's SBIR and STTR programs is to harness the innovative talents of our nation's small technology companies for U.S. military and economic strength”.

slide25

Program Descriptions

  • SBIR: Set-aside program for small business

concerns to engage in federal R&D --

with potential for commercialization.

  • STTR: Set-aside program to facilitate

cooperative R&D between small business concerns and U.S. research institutions -- with potential for commercialization.

small business innovation research sbir since 1982
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) – since 1982

“…… a highly competitive program that encourages small business to explore their technological potential and provides the incentive to profit from its commercialization. By including qualified small businesses in the nation's R&D arena, high-tech innovation is stimulated and the United States gains entrepreneurial spirit as it meets its specific research and development needs”.

dod s sbir program
DoD’s SBIR Program
  • Qualifications
  • US, for-profit, <500 employees
  • Work done within US
  • Phase 1: 2/3 work by SB firm
  • Phase 2: ½ work by SB firm

$1B funding in FY2004

small business technology transfer sbtr
Small Business Technology TRansfer (SBTR)

“….. an important new small business program that expands funding opportunities in the federal innovation research and development arena. Central to the program is expansion of the public/private sector partnership to include the joint venture opportunities for small business and the nation's premier nonprofit research institutions”.

sbir sttr programs
SBIR/STTR Programs

$1.6B

awarded

in

FY2003

More than 50%

of awards made

to companies

with <25 employees

sbir and sttr programs critical differences
SBIR AND STTR PROGRAMSCRITICAL DIFFERENCES

Research Partner

SBIR: Permits (encourages) research

institution partners

[ ~ 33% Phase I and 50% Phase II R&D]

STTR: Requires research institution

partners (e.g., universities)

[ 40% small business and 30% research institution]

AWARD ALWAYS MADE TO SMALL BUSINESS

sbir and sttr programs critical differences31
SBIR AND STTR PROGRAMSCRITICAL DIFFERENCES

Principal Investigator

SBIR: Primary (>50%) employment must be with small business concern

STTR: Primary employment not stipulated

[PI can be from research institution and/or

from small business concern]

argon engineering assoc inc va sbir contract awards
ARGON ENGINEERING ASSOC., INC.VASBIR Contract Awards

CONTRACT Phase Amount

NAVY-99-170 1 $69,961

NAVY-99-173 1 $99,402

NAVY-99-173 2 $1,700,633

NAVY-00-031 1 $99,942

NAVY-00-031 2 $1,499,599

NAVY-01-048 1 $98,391

SOCOM-02-009 1 $99,986

SOCOM-02-012 1 $99,941

TOTAL $3,767,855

key resources
Key Resources
  • United States SBA OnLine: www.sbaonline.sba.gov/
  • NH Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov/nh/
  • Business Utility Zone Gateway: www.buzgate.org/nh/index.html
  • Central Contractor Registration: www.ccr.gov/
  • BusinessLaw.gov: www.businesslaw.gov/viewstate.cfm?catid1=50199
more resources
More Resources
  • DoD SBIR/STTR:

www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu/sbir/homepg.htm

www.dodsbir.net

  • SBIR World:

www.sbirworld.com

  • SBIR Gateway:

www.zyn.com/sbir/

more resources35
More Resources
  • DoD SBIR/STTR:

www.acq.osd.mil/sadbu/sbir/homepg.htm

www.dodsbir.net

  • SBIR World:

www.sbirworld.com

  • SBIR Gateway:

www.zyn.com/sbir/