When working your capture management process, performing a Black Hat review is an essential part of your process to make certain you are ready to bid and price at the best possible cost point. Your goal is to define and determine your competitors’ strategies and capabilities. A Black Hat review gives you insight into how your competitors might respond to the same contract opportunity.
When effective, a Black Hat review helps define your strategy and moves your team forward. Too often, job titles determine participation, not experience. In your capture process, let experience be the leader and put together a team with the right mix of business intelligence by shopping for only a few specific people.
Making the Right Leadership Decision
A Black Hat leader needs experience with more than just project management. They need to understand the workings of a Black Hat review so they can guide the process. Before you assign a team leader, make sure to identify someone who has experience that is specific to running Black Hat teams. This way, they can help everyone else on the team understand the process, goals and methodologies. It takes a significant amount of time and personnel to complete a Black Hat and you want to make certain the results add value to your team strategy.
Engage Your Frontline Employees
Your sales team brings invaluable experience to the Black Hat review process. Account Managers, Sales Executives, Capture Executives and those who work directly with the customer all have a unique viewpoint. These team members understand the customer, your competitors and the industry environment. Without direct knowledge of the customer’s thinking process, budget constraints, incumbent concerns and other companies they like – you won’t understand what they are looking for as a Prime.
Identify Behind-the-Scenes Resources
You’ve hired some of the best and brightest, which means your organizational chart and employee phone list can be an invaluable resource when building a Black Hat review team. A quick resume review could reveal employees who can offer behind-the-scenes input, and know how your opponents tackle capture management from the inside. Look for employees with a background in sales, pricing or delivery.
You want the most experienced personnel available. Someone who knows a lot about sales and can give you a clear picture when laying out strategy from the competitor’s perspective. Someone intimately acquainted with pricing can give you solid understanding of corporate requirements, pricing levers and mindset for how they determine where the line in the sand may be for pricing. The benefits of engaging these employees in the Black Hat review process are clear, so do a little data mining with HR to find the most expert members for your team.
Bring in Outside Experts
An extensive employee list does not guarantee insight into every competitor, which is why outside consultants can bring a lot of value to your Black Hat review. Consultants often have a long and varied client list, so it is possible to find someone who has experience working both with and against your competitors. Because the Black Hat review is all about looking at an RFP from the competitor’s perspective, the more people you have around the table who understand how the competition operates, the better your final review process.
Great Teams Build Great Proposals
At the end of the day, your Black Hat review is designed to do one thing – help the capture team be in a position to win new government clients. Try to look at a proposal from your competition’s viewpoint in order to gain an understanding of their likely strategies. If they have a history of cut-rate pricing, how do you compete?
If they focus on top-notch delivery, can you meet or beat their terms? Black Hat review helps you define your proposal goals and by the end, your team should be able to put together a complete SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for each of your competitors. Then, after leveraging that knowledge, you can list out action items and move forward to the next step in the capture process – White Hat review.