Are you ready for the end of the RFP era?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This guest commentary was originally submitted as a comment on a story about the lessons from Pragmatics’ 30 years in business.

Pragmatics has certainly done extremely well over the last 30 years, and the federal government has benefited from their high quality service.

Unfortunately the conditions that enabled that success are fading. Federal contractors seeking to grow in the future will need to take a different approach.

Once we had the good fortune to be in business during the era of RFP-centric business development, when companies grew primarily by responding to RFPs, winning a percentage of them, and delivering good service.

But that era is ending.

In the future, companies will need to have a compelling value proposition — an explanation of exactly how government executives will benefit from engaging them — and actively market that value proposition to government customers.

Most federal contractors today lack a compelling value proposition that separates them from the competition.

Their web sites list their services and areas of expertise, and provide vague, general assertions of excellence, innovation, and quality, but fail to explain specifically how customers will benefit from buying from them.

This is unfortunate, because many companies could potentially develop great value stories that separate them from the competition, but those stories remain untapped in the heads of their employees and customers.

In the future, the best performing companies will analyze their past performance, understand exactly how they have added value for their customers, develop compelling stories based on that understanding, and then use those stories to engage federal executives, learn their specific challenges, and craft solutions that resonate.


About the Author

Robert Polster is the president of Polster Consulting LLC and former executive with Northrop Grumman, TRW, MCI, Nortel and Price Waterhouse.

Reader Comments

Fri, Feb 6, 2015 Rob Washington, DC

Good article, but how does this indicate the end of the RFP era?

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Not to be a cynic, but.... this commentary pre-supposes an acquisition workforce that cares to engage with Industry. At present, it seems equally likely that the acquisitions teams will continue to freeze out conversations from local contractors, instead accepting the prima facie case being made by OMB and it's executive branch influences -- Silicon Valley's companies and employees have an obvious value proposition that doesn't need proof - while everybody else is sub par.

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