As another federal fiscal year winds down, I’m thinking about the big government contract wins this year. For government contractors who figure out how to consistently win, congratulations! I’m happy to say, many of these big winners are our clients!
To help our clients, we’ve just refreshed our white paper, “Aligning Marketing, Business Development, Capture and Proposals for Must-Win Federal Contracts.” It outlines a business development lifecycle, inspired by the leading Shipley Associates framework, which is one key element for success. We have been doing this for over 30 years and we believe the winning formula depends on the consistent collaboration across four departments: business development, capture management, proposal management and marketing/public relations (PR). When these teams are aligned, they can successfully drive your company towards the shared goal of a federal contract win! Here’s a glimpse of what each team brings to a winning collaboration.
Business Development: The Networkers
Government contractors rely on their business development (BD) teams to learn about potential procurement activities before the requests for information (RFI) are written. Your BD managers are on the front line of building relationships with agency contacts. They are the networkers. They tirelessly expand and deepen relationships to build credibility for themselves and your company.
To do their jobs well, they need sales tools that help to educate and inspire interest from prospective customers. Government customers should know something about your company before BD makes the first call.
The most effective BD managers are active participants of a cross-departmental team. BD should invite teammates from other departments to strategy discussions. Together, they can help advocate for marketing budgets to fund bid-related activities. They should also educate colleagues and keep all teammates up to date throughout step reviews.
Capture Management: The Conductors
Capture management is responsible for winning the targeted government contracts. Once a decision is made to pursue a contract, your capture managers step in to craft the bid strategies – from solution definition to teaming plans to pricing and proposal strategies. They are the conductors of a finely tuned orchestra, directing resources and activities – making adjustments when the timing or tune is off.
Capture managers understand that, as Aaron Heffron, president, Market Connections put it, “Few things are more important than having the right value proposition” when preparing for upcoming federal RFPs.
Winning capture managers know how to collaborate to get what they (and your company) need to communicate your differentiation – and win. When your capture managers steer market research, have them pull in BD and marketing to conduct competitive analysis. Identify and share key market messages for conversations, marketing activities and the proposal. Ideally, your capture managers work with marketing to define account-based marketing plans to support your bids.
Proposal Management: The Translators
Proposal managers are responsible for delivering clearly written, well-supported, compelling proposals that are submitted on time. They are the translators. They incorporate win themes, company differentiators, technology expertise, solution offerings and past performance into proposals that meet each government agency’s needs and requirements.
Too often, the proposal team is pulled in late in the bid process. As soon as the draft request for proposal (RFP) is issued by the government agency, assign a proposal manager to steer your proposal development process. Keep everyone informed as developments unfold and decisions are made that impact the proposal.
Strong proposal managers own their process from the moment they get involved, starting by confirming the win strategies and themes. Knowing the power of a good story, they work with the cross-functional team to test and adjust core messages. Encourage your proposal managers to start building proposal assets early – using the team to fill in gaps and confirm information before finalizing charts and graphs. Have them share drafts with informed and defined review teams, so the final proposal best represents your company and bid.
Marketing and Public Relations: The Promoters
Marketing and PR are responsible for driving awareness of your company. The chances of winning a federal contract increase dramatically when the agency knows who you are before they receive your proposal. Marketing and PR are the promoters, showering the market with key messages important to each major procurement effort. Use your marketing/PR team to “seed” the government community by showcasing your strengths and thought leadership.
What are the two biggest factors driving marketing and PR success? Aligned engagement and budget. When marketing/PR has a seat at the table, a marketing plan and funds to support activity, they can make a positive difference every step of the way.
The best marketing and PR teams don’t solely rely on others to learn about the opportunity; they scan the market for information and proactively feed updates to the team throughout the process. To create the impression that your company is the de facto choice for the bid, charge your marketing/PR team to create marketing content targeting government decision makers. Publish blogs, write news articles, issues press releases and prep speakers that stay “on message.” Behind the scenes, marketing can support proposals with professional, on-brand graphic support.
It really does take a team to get winning results, tapping each functional area to do what they do best. When your cross-functional team is aligned, you’re primed for winning results!
Read our new white paper for more information about the capture process, key players and a strategic communications playbook. Visit our website to read about Boscobel’s Pre-RFP Opportunity Marketing services. Or contact us if you’re looking for business-to-government marketing support on your next must-win contract. We look forward to assisting your team!