OPINION

Winning in today's market requires new strategies

There are a series of common business tactics available to companies to sustain growth in a flat or shrinking market.  Consistently winning new business requires taking new actions and risks.  Performing more of the same behavior with the same people and level of resources rarely generates new growth, meaning growth that increases a company’s market share.

Traditional growth options include:

  • Offer new products and/or services.
  • Utilize new ‘channels’ to present your offerings from a new market mechanism to new and established customers.
  • Extend your company’s value proposition by performing more of the services that exist along its current value chain.
  • Plan for and enter new geographies and/or agencies.
  • Invest in and launch a new business built around a complementary core capability.  (This approach relates to the appeal of M&A.  Seldom is thought given to what investment actually be necessary to achieve new business growth and what that will entail before the M&A transaction is completed.)
  • Take exiting business away from an incumbent contractor. [I will come back to this point shortly.]

Successfully executing all of these options’ is predicated upon performing adequate marketing expenditure and activities.  Companies have initiated these above options with minimal marketing investment and fanfare, and cannot figure out why the world is not beating a path to their doors.  (This situation is similar to when a new strategic plan has been carefully developed over time and the only people who truly grasp its impact are its authors because few others have been allowed to read it.)

In the bull market of yesteryear, almost all companies had a seat at the table and could get plenty to eat.  There was much business to go around.  Each company had their own specialties, relationships, and market ‘swim lanes’, so to speak.  Yes, incumbents lost once in a while (often after being in an account for many years) but it was seldom. 

While the government often became tired of their long-time contractor’s presence, i.e. wanted ‘new blood’, they tended to stay with the devil they knew.  Even when a competitor, during a re-compete bid, offered a 15 percent price reduction, for example, switching contractors seemed to be too much of a hassle.

Then along comes sequestration, LPTA (real or perceived), and budget scrutiny as never before seen. Now, let us talk about taking exiting business away from an incumbent contractor – otherwise known as winning by taking.

A company, after thoughtful analysis, may decide to pursue a specific re-compete opportunity, ideally 18 to 24 months before the re-compete procurement will be released for bid.  Once the decision is made to pursue this strategic opportunity, with full top management support, there are common activities that normally ensue over time.  In no particular order:

  • Have a senior business development person(s) who conveys the company’s messages and themes to the government, at an executive level, while the government is in the Market Research phase.
  • Convey your company’s SME knowledge to the government to affirmatively impact the draft language of the procurement document.
  • Write a fully-compliant proposal response that ghosts the current incumbent contractor’s weaknesses
  • Reduce the price of what would have been bid in the old days by 20-30 percent or so while employing a valid price-to-win methodology.
  • Reduce the current number of FTEs by __ percent required for the new contract team. (You fill in the blank.)
  • Develop a solution set that is both creative and pragmatic ideally that the government has seen and long before the bid due date.
  • Have an established bid team that is socio-politically correct.
  • Retain/hire former government executives to ensure your Proposal Team truly understands the client’s culture and hot buttons.
  • Perform objective Black Hat analyses on key competitors to minimize Kool-Aid drinking by your Proposal Response Team.
  • Have an experienced Capture Manager lead this effort, many months before the procurement is released for bid, and a defined capture process in the company.  The Capture Manager must develop and clearly articulate the path to winning that is embraced across the company.
  • Conduct multiple executive visits with different government people over time should have been held over a year before the procurement is released for bid to convey corporate interest and commitment in person.

Yet, tactics are still missing from this list of standard re-compete activities.  What are they?  Share your thoughts in comments below.

About the Author

Bob Davis has over 35-years’ experience in the federal information technology industry. He has held senior positions with products- and services-oriented, high-tech IT companies during his career. Bob has successfully worked for large- and medium–sized companies, and small businesses. Leadership positions have been held in business development, marketing, and program management. Bob has a doctor of management from the University of Maryland University College. He works for a medium-size company in our industry.

Reader Comments

Thu, Apr 14, 2016 Mel Ostrow

A wealth of good ideas here; strong companies do them. Most small firms fail to do so, however, because they don't know what they don't know. And they become too reliant on former Feds--who surely don't know about the business what they don't know, or often think they know it all, and would like big bucks for little work. Newer companies also do not appreciate how subservient and demeaned one has to act in order to be accepted by lordly Feds, who often mistreat the exploit contractors. There is no happy medium. But one thing is sure. Except for the rare M&A play that insiders may exploit, most companies have very slim profit margins compared to even five years ago. And, justifiably, government client, auditors, and law enforcement (e.g., grand juries and prosecutors and investigators) are looking hard at many major companies. Not the business it used to be

Wed, Apr 13, 2016

The Capture Manager should have a Digital Marketing strategy in place 4-6 months before submitting their bid to ensure consistent messaging to the customer.

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