Why Did I Lose My Government Bid?

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So you spent the better part of the past fourteen months preparing your RFP response for a government bid, and you were certain that it would go to you and your company. But it didn’t; what happened? Why did you lose your government bid?  Seems like you have been losing a number of deals lately, but don’t know why.

It’s not surprising if you don’t know. In fact, when asked if they tracked wins and losses only 58% said they do, and of that 58% the preferred methodology was Microsoft Excel. While we will save the Microsoft Excel discussion for a different day, let’s go back to that number: 42% of respondents said they do not know why they’ve won or lost a bid, it’s also 42% that do not even track their wins and losses.

After You Lose Your Government Bid

If you’re like that 42%, chances are that after you find out that you’ve lost your bid, you simply move on. Don’t do that. Now is the time to start asking questions, specifically, “Why did I lose my government bid?”  The U.S. Government actually allows you to request a proposal debrief to help you, and companies in your position, understand how your RFP Response compared to that of the winner. In fact, the Government allows you to request a debrief even if you win, allowing you to understand how your proposal was perceived and how you can improve your proposals in the future. Take advantage of this opportunity to understand your successes and failures.

Track All of Your Wins (and Your Losses)

But in order to improve your strategy in the future, you need to first track your successes (or lack thereof). Use the information gleaned in the debrief, as well as other bits of industry knowledge to understand why you won. If you won, congratulations. You now have the basis for a repeatable proposal process; use it. Repeat your successes again and again, but do not let the root of your success be forgotten. Continue requesting debriefs to ensure that you stay ahead of your competition.

Now, what if you lose your government bid? Your loss means that something in your RFP proposal (or, unfortunately, the proposal as a whole) was not as attractive as your competitors, and you need to determine what that was. For though it sounds easy and effortless to write off your losses and keep moving forward, understanding the rationale behind your loss is even more important than understanding why you won.

You could potentially be making the same (simple) mistake time after time after time. Not to oversimplify a complicated process, think back to childhood. One of the grave lessons that teachers would repeat was to check your work, and as soon as you’ve started to do so, you came across so many silly errors that could have been easily avoided, had you taken the time to look for them.

This is the same situation; by tracking your RFP Proposal wins and losses you could easily realize that:

  • Your price is always too high: This is an easy fix; consider reducing overhead, hiring lower cost employees, or divesting assets, to name a few solutions
  • Your transition plan is always rated average: You can find a better process for transition, the key is now you know what you need to improve
  • Your past performance doesn’t “sing” for this type of solution: Perhaps you aren’t qualified to win this type of business yet; there’s nothing wrong with that. Take a step back and spend your B&P on Proposals that do suit your firm, and come back to these when you’re ready

Understand Your Weaknesses

In tracking your RFP Proposal wins and losses, you can understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie; and while you can work on minimizing your weaknesses and improving in the future, you can use your recently developed insights to shift your current focus and win more government bids.  The best thing you can do is find Capture Executive software that already tracks that information for you (as shown above) so you can create a history and learn to see the trends and change them!

About Skip Blackburn