When bidding for a government contract, one thing is absolutely certain: There will be competition. Hence, knowing what you’re up against is crucial to your success. Competitive analysis, if executed correctly and efficiently, can provide great insights into how to land a customer. Here’s how you can do just that.
Learn What Your Customer Needs
An RFP is a competition, and to even begin to find ways to up your total score in the eyes of the customer, you have to understand who else is going for the win. Rival contractors probably won’t advertise their pursuit, so you might worry that it could be difficult to figure out just who they are. However, by studying what your customer needs, talking to everyone in the industry and researching which contracting companies have the ability to provide solutions for those needs, you should be able to come up with a short list of other contractors likely bidding for that new business.
TIP: Don’t forget to look at the sign-in registers whenever you meet with the Government – you might learn quite a bit about who was there before you!
Discovery of your competition’s bidding plans and strategy requires that you take time to thoroughly understand the customer’s range of products and services, as well as their requirements. As you note which companies are able to fulfill client needs, you might notice that some competitor businesses could actually be teaming up to win bids. Once you have a good list of the possible competition, you can begin identifying your team’s and your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You should create a clear status and analysis report for each of the top, most relevant competitors on your list.
Conduct a Black Hat Analysis
A black hat review process involves analyzing another firm’s strengths and weaknesses through what is called a “SWOT” (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis. The exercise consists of visualizing, discussing and even acting out how a competitor will make a bid, provide solutions, solicit pricing or develop a team. During the black hat analysis, you should make a point of going over how your competition will line up their own proposal so you can ghost their weaknesses and promote your strengths.
In most instances, it’s advantageous to include someone familiar with the other company in your black hat review, such as an outside consultant or internal employee who once worked for them. This activity can focus on personnel, historical performance and other key differences between your company and the competition.
After the black hat exercise, your team should have a better grasp on where you stand compared to your rivals. When the review is complete, discuss actionable strategies for surpassing other bidders. Always include a plan and timeline for bringing these ideas from paper to reality.
Leverage the Differences
A black hat review process allows you to fill in gaps you might have missed and to address weaknesses you did not previously consider before you submit what would otherwise have been a less competitive bid. Furthermore, a black hat analysis provides you a clear outline of rival bidders’ weaknesses compared to your strengths, which you should make visible to the customer. You need to show how you can offer solutions when and where the competition can’t. Simply put, if you know how your firm compares to other bidders, you can leverage differences to your advantage. To do this properly, you need to be brainstorming for actionable ideas and concrete plans not only while performing a black hat analysis, but also after.
Another aspect of this part of the bidding process is seriously thinking about how your competition will perform Black Hat analysis about you. In this sense, as you analyze competitors, you have to also be objective about your own team’s shortcomings, as well as to understand where you thrive. This process is called a white hat. Defining your white hats will make writing a bid that captures the attention of the customer go smoothly, and help your chances of getting that new government contract.