6 Ways to Blow Your Black Hat Process (and How to Avoid Them)

Landing government contracts starts with a comprehensive capture management process. During which, your black hat review is a crucial strategic step that helps define your expectations and proposal process, as well as next steps.

If you stumble during your black hat review, however, you may also blow your entire capture management funnel. Here are a few mistakes to watch for and ways to avoid them when you put on a black hat.

1. Putting Together the Wrong Team

Building the right team to manage your captures and shepherd each opportunity through the black hat review process is critical. If you only include your executives, you miss out on crucial operational information. If you don’t mine your employee database for resources about your competition, you’ve already started on the wrong foot.

Put together a strong team that includes people from sales, operations, capture management, executives and anyone with insider knowledge about the competition. The stronger the team, the more in-depth the review.

2. Forgetting the Data and Ignoring the Action Items

When you go into your black hat review process, the last thing you want to do is forget to look at things from an outcome-based perspective. After all, your entire capture management process is about closing a government contract. If you don’t use an outcome-based process, you’re missing the point of black hat review.

Because your focus is on outcomes, you should always leave the review table with a plan for moving ahead. You want a session that leaves you with clear and concise action items designed to propel your proposal forward.

3. Missing Crucial G2 (Information)

If you don’t have a solid outline of the mission objectives (what your client wants and the critical elements of the deal) and knowledge of what your competition is likely to field, you won’t be able to complete a comprehensive black hat review. Intelligence often means the difference between landing the contract and waiting for a future renewal. Make sure you have all the G2 on every aspect of the deal and competition.

4. Avoiding Customer Hot Buttons

When you go over the deal to figure out strategies, you need to know the most important issues for the client. If you don’t address client hot buttons, you’ll ultimately present a lackluster proposal. Make sure you have a complete list of important issues and a plan to address them before you finish your black hat review.

5. Failing to Own Up to Your Weaknesses

Before you can honestly assess the competition or role-play in their shoes, you need to have a thorough understanding of your company’s weak points. It can be pretty brutal to acknowledge your faults, but when you do, you can work to overcome them. An open and honest conversation about internal strengths and weaknesses can help you when you sit down to look at things from the competitor’s point of view.

6. Giving Up the Ghost

One of the most important parts of your black hat review is ghosting the competition. You pretend to be the competition and lay out likely solutions and proposal options. During this process, you evaluate “your” company and assess strengths and weaknesses. Finally, you look at your actual company through the lens of the competition to identify any weaknesses that might be exploited in the proposal. Done well, this process lets you cast doubt on competitors and play up your own solutions in a final proposal. Done poorly, it can leave the door open for the competition to land the contract.

A New Perspective Through Black Hat

A black hat review is all about assessing prospects from a different point of view. You want to see how other companies are likely to respond to RFPs and how you can tailor your own proposal to better meet client needs. A good black hat review process helps you navigate the often murky waters of capture management.

About Skip Blackburn