How to Spot and Position for Hot Opportunities




“Cold and warm bid opportunities have win probabilities less than 10 percent.

So to increase its probability of winning a given bid, a company must position itself to bid “hot” opportunities. What are the attributes of a hot opportunity?

  • The company has been aware of and tracking this bid opportunity well in advance of the procurement release date.
  • The company submitted meaningful input during the government’s market research phase, provided a thoughtful RFI response or gave the government an informal unsolicited proposal.
  • There have been face-to-face meetings with the customer(s) to demonstrate your company’s expertise and a possible technical approach(s).
  • Business development and operations have worked together and shared knowledge to help best position the company to win this opportunity.
  • The company has developed and executed a marketing strategy long in advance of the expected procurement that entails pertinent web site content, white papers, success stories, technical blogs, speeches by SMEs, abbreviated technical presentations and/or select PR activities.
  • The company has retained the services of a knowledgeable and respected consultant that knows this agency’s operating environment and management priorities.
  • Your company’s senior SMEs are engaged with the business development function to ensure the company’s knowledge/expertise is visible and accessible to the customer.
  • Your company’s senior management has met with the agency’s senior management (at the right level in the agency) to determine the agency’s receptivity to bringing in a new contractor.  [Beware: During my meetings with the government, I have heard them say (1) yes, we want new blood for this project, (2) yes, we would like to see a bid from your company or (3) we do not expect to receive too many bids.  These statements are almost clichés.  Management, of course, must read between the lines to understand what is being said or unsaid.]
  • The company has established a ‘balanced’ bid team.  This means the proposed bid team includes neither too many nor too few companies for the value of this bid opportunity.  A meaningful small business approach is important even when not explicitly called for.  And the physical locations of bid partners may be a consideration for some bids.

These tactics and more are the attributes of hot bid opportunities.  Successful execution of these tactics can increase the company’s probability of winning into the 50 percent plus range.  These are deals that the company can bid and win with a higher level of assurance.

But wait. You might be saying, This list is unfair! My company is not large; I do not have all of these resources.  Smaller businesses should perform some these tactics or you will continue to bid opportunities with a low probability of winning or, if lucky, might receive a couple of FTEs from the prime contractor.

Small businesses should do what they can all while focusing on quality in all that they do.

Make your company’s expertise evident to customers early on and demonstrate that you are fully capable of performing the work and administering the contract.  This means employing various mechanisms mentioned above plus having a high-performance, digital marketing web site.  Your company’s web site can no longer simply be an electronic billboard.

Companies have finite resources especially in terms of their proposal generation staff.  They must apply these valuable resources wisely i.e. where the company has a much greater than 10 percent probability of winning.”

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.


About rosecoveredglasses

2 Tours in US Army Vietnam. Retired from 36 Years in the Defense Industrial Complex after working on 25 major weapons systems, many of which are in use today in the Middle East. Volunteer MicroMentor. I specialize in Small, Veteran-owned, Minority-Owned and Woman-Owned Businesses beginning work for the Federal Government. MicroMentor is a non-profit organization offering free assistance to small business in business planning, operations, marketing and other aspects of starting and successfully operating a small enterprise. You can set up a case with me at MicroMentor by going to: key words: "Federal Government Contracting"

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