My 5-year-old daughter, when working on a puzzle, knows to glance at the whole picture first, before starting to assemble the pieces. She is up to 30-piece puzzles now, which have gotten quite complex. So, her process is to study the picture, and then find a corner piece to which she then starts adding pieces.
We, as adults, sometimes forget to take a step back and look at the whole picture first when we solve our own puzzles: how to grow our company, how to win a contract, or how to bring in revenue. This is why tip #2 for winning government contracts is to step back and take a few minutes to ponder the full lifecycle of business development. This way we can be better at putting the pieces together.
Here is a typical business development lifecycle for a government contracting company.
Strategic business development planning is the first step – it is the corner piece of the puzzle. It is necessary because it becomes your beacon when you start looking at a universe of opportunities. Businesses often fall into a trap of working without a plan, or writing the plan once, and then leaving it to collect virtual (and physical) dust while they are engaged in the routine day-to-day operations. The trick here is to stick to the plan that you keep up to date, and avoid jumping at every opportunity that may have nothing to do with the plan but seems attractive at the moment.
Market research is the next step. It goes hand-in-hand with your strategic business development plan and makes the whole planning process somewhat iterative. In order for you to plan, you need to know which vertical markets you are going to go into, and who are your ideal customers. This leads you to more detailed research, which then feeds your planning process.
Pipeline development is the natural outcome of your market research. Now that you know which agencies and which areas you are going to explore, you will need to zoom in further and develop a list of opportunities that you are then going to narrow down further and further as you learn more about them. These opportunities will be in the near term with a request for proposal coming out in 1-6 months, the mid-term – with an opportunity expected to open up in the next 6 months to 1 year, and long term – 1-5 years out. Some of the large and important opportunities may then make it into your strategic plan – and you may start calling them strategic bids or must-win opportunities.
Marketingto the federal government is related to the overall effort of attracting customers to your company, and creating awareness of your brand and offers. One of our tips will cover marketing in detail.
Opportunity identification narrows down the list to the select few pursuits that you decide to dedicate a significant effort to pursue. Each of these individual opportunities then enters the capture phase.