Capture management is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Landing a government contract might take two years of preparation before you put in a proposal. During that long run-up to the award, a Black Hat review process is an essential element to a successful capture process.
A Black Hat review process lets you create a series of actionable recommendations that can help shape the deal moving forward. Essentially, Black Hat review means you strategize from the competition’s point of view. Your capture team and other carefully selected members sit down and vet each contract opportunity as if you worked for the competitor.
You look at your own company from the outside and perform a full SWOT analysis on your pretend employer. With the right team, you can get through the five steps of a Black Hat Review process quickly and comprehensively.
1. Review the Proposal Requirements
The first step in any review process is a dive into the client requirements. What is the client looking for and what vehicle and budget are they expecting? If you’re going to pursue the contract, break out all of the requirements for easy reference.
2. Review the Accumulated Capture Information
By the time you sit down for a Black Hat Review, you should already have a lot of information collected. You’ll have the incumbent company listed along with other providers that will probably bid.
You’ll have important contact names broken out and lots of information from the client detailing what they are looking for. Make sure everyone at the table has a chance to review the information before you get into the role play part of the agenda.
3. Be Real About Your Temporary New Job
Get everyone on the same page by explaining the importance of pretending to work for the competition. As you talk about the competition, you’ll include every other company that is likely to bid. You’ll want to do a SWOT analysis on them all, or at least the top three, including the company you work for when you’re not involved in a Black Hat review.
4. Describe the Customer
Remember, this step happens from the competitor’s perspective. As you work to generate action items, you need to list out solution knowledge, so you know exactly what the customer wants. Map out your relationship with the customer. Do you have anyone on staff who has a relationship with the prospect?
Explore any issues that might affect your ability deliver on a contract and identify potential challenges. Which competitors might be able to easily overcome those challenges and why?
5. Talk About Pricing Expectations
Your temporary employer may have published pricing information or prior proposals that can indicate likely parameters. Pricing is always an important part of your proposal, so you need to determine where the competition is likely to fall on the price scale.
If you follow these steps, you can generate a comprehensive list of action items to help guide you as you move into your White Hat review. You’ll have everything you need to evaluate your own company and make major decisions like final pricing and how to gain more contact with the customer.
Black Hat reviews can also reveal when your company might not be the best provider. In those cases, you might see a competitor that is a perfect match and offer a partnership. Black Hat reviews give you insight into the competitor’s likely moves, letting you strategize to minimize their strengths and play to their weaknesses.