Selling to the Government: Which Proposals Are Worth Your B&P?

When it comes to selling to the government, many times there are so many opportunities available to you and your team that you may just have to stop and evaluate your options before you get too far down the road of spending your money. After all, just because the possibilities are attractive does not mean that you should bid them, and it certainly does not mean that you will win them. So why should you waste all your resources trying?

The key is to determine which opportunity proposals you should be spending your resources on and how you should prioritize them.

If Proposals Are Due in the Same Time Span

Chances are, you’ll have more opportunity proposals to bid on than you’ll have available proposal managers. And, as there are always peaks at certain times of the fiscal year, it’s possible that they may all be due about the same time. So how do you know which ones you should focus on?

First you must evaluate all the deals and grade each one based on several different criteria. In general, you are looking to understand if the customer knows who your company is, and the value-adds that you bring:

  • Have you talked to the customer and differentiated your company from the incumbent?
  • Do you know who the other competitors are?  Have you talked to them?
  • Have you performed a Blackhat process?
  • Does the Contracting (KO) shop know your company and the strengths you bring?
  • Did you build the best team to deliver the government with an optimal solution?
  • Do you have Past Performance to support this effort directly?
  • Have you “shaped” the deal?
o   Did you help the KO understand the best NAICS codes and evaluation process for the type of deal and what options give them a greater competitive response?
o   Have you developed a white paper for the customer to show them other “better/smarter/faster” solutions?


Once you have graded your progress on each of the opportunities you have run capture on, you should have an idea where you stand, and thus, which opportunities you believe most advantageous for your company. Then, with this understanding, you can evaluate and assign opportunities to your proposal managers.  Finally, you must determine if a PM or Executive could effectively lead the response process on any of the remaining efforts.

Grading an Opportunity

What makes an ideal opportunity?

  • Profit Margin: Everybody strives to meet certain predefined goals to cover operating costs and growth projections.  Some deals are flush and others are under water against corporate goals.  So if you are evaluating whether to bid several deals, money makers are always the first place to start.
  • Type of work being delivered: Many opportunities need solutions that don’t always fit exactly with what you currently can deliver.  So make sure you build a team that satisfies all the requirements for the customer.  If you cannot solve even one item on the requirements list with your team, this is a deal you will likely not win.
  • Knowledge of the deal: “He who knows the most, generally responds with the best proposal.” The more you know about the customer – what they really need/want, what they really can afford, who they really want to work with – then you are in a much better position to be selected to do the work.  So the grade here is about collecting intelligence (G2) about the Agency and how they think.

But How Do You Grade Effectively?

Unfortunately, most companies only have a manual process in place, and by manual process I mean they speak to different Capture Executives about all of their current opportunities, hoping to get a measured feel for the information and criteria listed above. And as most of these decisions are more subjective than objective, skewed by individual perspectives, these companies’ representatives tend to make some impulsive decisions that don’t stem from a full understanding of the situation. Thus some of their choices may not accurately reflect the best choice.

Some companies, with the use of a more intelligent Capture Management (Capture Executive) Software, can accurately and objectively understand where each capture is in the collection and shaping process.  This allows measurement to take the form of a progress report or a grade which actually depicts how much work has already been accomplished, and what more still needs to happen.

It is through this measurable consistency that you can actually begin to truly understand which bids will be worth your company’s time and money.

About Skip Blackburn