COMMENTARY

Is your capture manager as skillful as an orchestra conductor?

When you think of an orchestra, you may think of the beautiful music you are listening to at a beautiful venue which results in a memorable experience. There are many components that must work in collaboration and be synchronized at the exact right moment to be able to execute and provide this experience.

There’s a conductor, musicians, instruments, the score, the venue, lighting, performance marketing, sound technicians and more. To ensure that the orchestra not only plays beautiful music but also stays in business, there must be a strategy and well-organized plan that ensures the orchestra seats are filled for each scheduled performance, advertising is executed in the correct target markets, the musicians are well trained and rehearsed, and the venue is ready to sell tickets and fill the house.

In every great performance, the conductor and each of the individual musicians must be virtuosos playing their parts with precise timing. Individual strengths are highlighted at the exact moment they’re needed in the score. It requires that every part of the orchestra work together led by the conductor to have a successful performance!

This analogy works for any capture team. To win business, you must have a well-orchestrated team with specific roles and responsibilities. The team must be led by a capture manager that understands how to leverage the strengths of the team and executes a well thought out strategy and executable plan. The strategy should be to bid and win the immediate opportunity as well as how to capture the follow-on contracts.

Roles and responsibilities can be assigned based on areas that leverage their expertise and RFP requirements. Each capture team member must understand their roles and responsibilities while executing with professional excellence. This allows each member to contribute to the maximum extent possible. 

The conductor in this analogy is the capture manager. The capture manager leads the team. Capture managers balance the skills of project managers and sales. They should be experts in understanding federal acquisition, strategy, leadership, communication, the specific opportunity requirements, and be a strong facilitator. They must understand the full strategy and each team member’s role and responsibility and how to facilitate collaboration when necessary.

Capture managers must understand what’s being sold, who’s buying, what they’re buying, who their competition is and what it takes to win. Just like a conductor who needs to understand all about the music to be played, the musicians and how they sound together, the audience, the facility, what other performances are taking place and how to sell out for each performance. Both are measured by their individual and collective winning strategy and performance.

Individual musicians and staff equate to the capture team members. These are: business development/sales, technical and management subject matter experts, pricing, contracts, marketing personnel, proposal managers, writers/authors, graphic artists, executive sponsors and business operations representatives. Each member must focus on doing their job and collaborating, not interfering with others.

For example, suppose the sound expert wants to play a violin instead of managing the sound during a performance. The sound system will be adversely compromised, and the violin section will be out of sync – thus causing disfunction. The same thing holds true in capture, when the technical lead wants to do pricing. Or when a non-technical business development member wants to do technical solutioning. Their job becomes misaligned, they can’t perform as needed, and the team is dysfunctional and will surely loose the bid or at a minimum cause a heap of trouble and will result in lost time and money! 

The next time your organization wants to bid and win a federal opportunity -- and get repeat business – make sure the individual and collective capture team members know their roles and responsibilities (e.g. the right people play the right parts) and have the skills and knowledge needed to execute their role efficiently and effectively.

The individuals/collective team must clearly understand the specific opportunity requirements as well as who the buyer is and what they really want to buy. This results in a capture strategy that results in a winning proposal. The capture team must understand their competition and any impediments to win. Lastly, the capture manager must lead the team to ensure that the capture is executed with precision during each phase of the capture process.

Just like an amazing orchestra performance, the outcome will be a rewarding experience and the wins will continue. The result will be an Encore for all. 

About the Author

Helene Johnson is president of Bid2Win Consulting, a professional services Company focused on business development and sales positioning, capture, strategy, proposal support and advisory services.

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