If you want to produce winning proposals, you need to make wise strategic use of three key members on your federal contract team. We call them the “triumvirate of managers.” You know them as the program manager, the capture manager, and the proposal manager. This month, Alaris presents the second in a three-part series that reveals how each manager plays a crucial role in more federal contract wins.

Proposal Pointer #2: When it comes to customers, your capture manager knows best.

Your capture manager (CM) is much more than the business developer who identifies a contract opportunity, then walks away.

The capture manager develops an in-depth understanding of what your customer needs.

The CM got involved at the lead stage and has scoped out the contract opportunity in detail. By the time you settle on pursuit, your CM is best positioned to know what the customer will value most in a proposal. It pays to involve the CM throughout the whole development process…and beyond!

Here’s why:

As the key player in opportunity development, your CM relies heavily on customer interaction. The CM has listened carefully and collected valuable insights into what the customer seeks from a vendor. Why not apply these knowledge nuggets wherever they can boost your chance of winning the contract?

Win Themes and Value Proposition: The win themes should reflect the benefits and features that the government agency cares about the most. The value proposition delves into more detail. Together, the win themes and value proposition comprise your “sales pitch.” Rather than push what you’re selling, they must demonstrate you can solve the customer’s problems.

Your CM already speaks the agency’s language. He or she is best suited to help ensure your sales pitch shows your understanding of what is important. The CM can place your product or service in the context of answering the agency’s needs.

Price to Win: In the end, it comes down to price. If you do everything else to craft a compliant and compelling proposal but your pricing is off, you will lose.

The CM is no substitute for a pricing specialist who knows the details of your company’s finances. The CM does, however, have insights into the customer’s rate expectations and what your competition is likely to bid. Your CM can keep an ear to the ground and pick up information to help establish a price to win.

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Competitive Analysis: The CM can provide intelligence about who is competing against you and what their strategy may be. How will they team? Do they have incumbent knowledge of the contract or customer? How well positioned are they to bid? Your CM can help you determine your relative position in the competitive array.

Team Building: Use your CM’s knowledge of the market and customer to identify teaming partners. Other companies can add competitive benefits, such as incumbency, past performance, technical expertise, desirable small business socio-economic status, and pricing advantages.

Contractor-Developed Solutions: Will your potential customer share your enthusiasm for your innovative organizational, business process, and technical solutions? Your CM is in a good position to gauge agency reaction to your performance-based contract bid. As your program manager develops the technical and management response, the CM can share insights about how to get the solution right.

Interpretation of the Request for Proposal (RFP): A correct interpretation of the RFP is particularly important for performance-based contracting. A savvy CM can often help. You can also query the government contract officer, but if your CM can provide answers, you are ahead of the game.

Key Information: The CM is an essential member of your fact-finding team. Organize your questions early and update them often. Use the CM to track down answers through interaction with the customer, teammates, stakeholders, and competitors. Successful small businesses continue the question/answer process from opportunity identification through contract award.

Proposal Post-Submission Activities: Keep your CM engaged even after you submit your proposal. You may receive Evaluation Notices that pose questions. The agency may invite you to make an oral presentation. Your CM can play a key role in formulating answers or conducting presentation prep with the most up-to-date information.

Winning the Next One: Once you win a contract, your CM is an essential set of eyes and ears to set you up for another award from the same customer. The team work between the capture and program managers during contract execution will position you to take advantage of the next opportunity.

Your 3-step action plan:

  1. Exploit your CM’s intimate knowledge of the customer to ensure that your value proposition, win themes, price to win, competitive analysis, and proposal language are all targeted to address the agency’s needs.
  2. Integrate your CM throughout the entire proposal process. That includes post- submission questions as well as project execution. The CM’s skill at customer engagement lays the groundwork for the next opportunity.
  3. Build the triumvirate of managers – program, capture, proposal – into a well- integrated team that draws on each person’s expertise to develop the opportunity, deliver a winning proposal, and successfully execute all contract requirements.

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