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Nick Wakeman

6 questions and considerations after losing a bid

These takeaways are from a panel discussion I moderated at the Sept. 21 WT Power Breakfast on debriefings and bid protests with Yvonne Vervaet, senior vice president and chief growth officer at ManTech International; and Bob Lohfeld, founder of Lohfeld Consulting.

  • Always, always ask for a debrief. Don’t just go “Aw, we lost.”  And even if you win, ask for a debrief. There are times when a customer might identify a strength in your proposal that you didn’t know you had.
  • Understand the type of contract. Different types of contracts like Federal Supply Service, IDIQs, blanket purchase agreements, task orders and others have different rules and regulations. Know the differences and how they apply to the contract in question.
  • At debriefings, pay attention to your customer’s emotions and how things are said. A snide comment about not understanding the mission of the agency can offer more insight than an analysis of your proposal.
  • Practice “painful intellectual honesty” by taking the information from a debriefing (if you get enough) and pull your entire team together for a review. That group includes business developers, writers, solutions architects and capture managers. Talk about what worked and what didn’t. What resonated with the customer and what didn’t.
  • Compare the strengths you tried to present in your proposal with the strengths the customer identified in evaluating your proposal. Your goal is for proposed strengths and perceived strengths to be as closely aligned as possible. If not, you know you have work to do.
  • Look for an open dialogue with the customer to understand what didn’t work. You want the customer to be able to say: “Look kid, you just didn’t get it. Your words were very nice but you totally misunderstood this aspect of what we wanted to do.” That can make a debrief a valuable conversation.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 24, 2018 at 9:25 AM


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