Avoid these 7 mistakes when bidding on a U.S. government contract

Businesses seeking to win U.S. government contracts often make mistakes in their bids — missteps that can waste time and money spent on bidding and that cost companies the chance at lucrative deals, according to Public Spend Forum, a sister site of Spend Matters.

Public Spend Forum goes into detail on each mistake, and it is even offering a workshop on these seven points. Register here for the workshop, to be held March 17 in Washington, D.C.

Here is a synopsis of the mistakes:

Over-reliance on socioeconomic designation

“If you qualify for a socioeconomic designation, you should absolutely pursue it. But it’s not a panacea. There are hundreds of other firms with the same socioeconomic designations, and they’re working as hard or harder than you.”

Investing in GSA Schedules (when you don’t fully understand them)

“To be clear, it’s not a mistake to pursue a GSA Schedule, if you fully understand what they are and why you’re trying to get on one. The mistake is spending time and money getting onto a GSA Schedule without validating that a) your target customers use them (not every agency does, and some Contracting Officers don’t prefer them) and b) you are prepared to honor the Most Favored Customer clause.”

Spray-and-pray capture management

“A lot of vendors want to play a numbers game with their business development, putting in many proposals and hoping they win 10% of them. If you offer commodities or simple products and services, that might not be a bad strategy. … But for any complex services or competitions that rely on best value tradeoff evaluations, the spray-and-pray mentality is only going to bring frustration and exhaustion.”

Not being realistic about capabilities

“This mistake is closely related to the spray-and-pray fallacy, and it results in a dilution of your key capabilities and differentiators. Furthermore, there’s only a few true ‘jack of all trades’ companies in each sector, and you probably don’t have the resources to compete with them. Better to home in on a precise problem that you and your colleagues are uniquely positioned to solve.”

Not understanding how your target customers research and buy goods and services

“Once you identify the agencies you’re targeting based on your product-market fit analysis, your next effort should involve determining how those agencies find companies, invite them to participate, and ultimately award contracts. Because one thing is for sure, none of them do it the same way.”

Not reading the solicitation and following instructions precisely

Don’t expend time and money on a contract to find out later that your company isn’t even qualified to bid on it. Here’s what PSF says: “You just have to read the contract. Every single word. Don’t skip ahead to the statement of work and instructions to offerors without reading all the terms and conditions first. Many of the eligibility criteria (and other nullifying nuances of government contracting) can be triaged if you leave yourself enough time ahead of the proposal deadline to work through them.”

Failing to identify your differentiators

“If you really want to win government contracts, you have to know precisely what makes you different from the competition. If you can’t put your finger on it, then you’re probably not ready for prime time. But once you do find it, it’s got to be front and center in everything you do, because if your target agencies and professional counterparts don’t understand and appreciate these finer points, then you’re just another scoop of vanilla ice cream.”

Click here to read the full blog post by Public Spend Forum.

Check out Public Spend Forum’s GovShop tool to find government suppliers and information on them.

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