By Frank Bennett, Paducah Regional Procurement Consultant
In many ways, all companies start in the same place regarding the government procurement process. You hear about the billions of dollars spent by federal, state, and local governments each year, and you want to learn how your business can win some of this business. The good news is that you already took the most important first step by signing up with KYPTAC. That said, as with any new business process, competing for government contracts can be a daunting process.
As mentioned, every single person and company starts this process in a similar way. You complete your basic SAM registration, create NAICS codes, write your capability statement, and if you work with KYPTAC, you start receiving emails from bid match listing potential opportunities that may match your company’s skillsets (If you are not signed up for bid match, contact your KYPTAC consultant). Then a day comes when you get excited because you see an opportunity from bid match in your email that seems like it is speaking to you personally. A government agency is looking for a product or service that you can uniquely provide, and you are ready to go after it.
Unfortunately, this is often where negative self-talk creeps in. The bidding process is intimidating even for companies that have been doing it for a while, for someone new to the process, it can seem like an insurmountable hill. As you read through the request, your confidence is shaken by pages of requirements and processes that you have no experience with. At this point, your negative self-talk often starts to convince you not to bid.
“I will be competing with big companies and probably don’t have much chance.”
“My competitors have written hundreds of bids, I don’t have the experience writing bids to actually win.”
“I have dozens of things on my to do list, I want to learn to bid on these opportunities, but other things are more urgent.”
The next thing you know, months have gone by, you have not bid on any opportunities, and you are no further along with your goal to be successful in government contracting. You are not alone. Most everyone that pursues government contracts has lived this moment. You are at a crossroads, and the path you take next will determine your long-term success.
If you analyze the success of every single company that pursues government contracts you will find one characteristic that most directly attributes to their success or failure. Include every possible variable including experience, industry, expertise, company size, socio-economic standing, and anything else that goes into government procurement success, and you will find that one variable skies above the rest in determining who ultimately wins a lot of contracts and who does not. THE COMPANIES THAT ARE MOST SUCCESSFUL BID MORE OFTEN! That’s it! That’s the one universally true characteristic of government contract procurement success. They may win more often, but they also lose far more often. It’s the adage that has been attributed to Wayne Gretzky, “You miss all of the shots you don’t take.” Win or lose, they are simply bidding on more contracts than everyone else. Not only does this increase their likelihood of winning, but it also increases the speed in which they improve their acumen working their way through the learning curve faster.
Every single person that competes in government procurement started at the same place that you did. They had the same questions, they had the same frustrations, and they had the same distractions as you are having. They did not have some special understanding or access to special resources that you do not have. They were simply persistent and chose to fail faster than everyone else.
A few weeks back the Tokyo Olympics concluded. Becoming good at bidding on government contracts is much like training for a sport. Sure, tips and tactics are important, but above all else, if you want to become a good runner, you have to run, if you want to become a good cyclist, you have to get on the bike, if you want to become a good swimmer you have to get in the pool and start swimming, and if you want to become a highly successful bidder, you start bidding!
Ready to jump in? Here are a few tips to take your efforts into overdrive today:
Find one RFP or RFI, or other type of government request for products or services this week that matches what you do and bid.
If you do not win, make sure you do the debriefing with the contracting officer and use their information to improve.
Focus long term. Remember, your goal is not to win right away, your goal is to build your skills. Think of the ones you don’t win as critical learning opportunities that will serve as building blocks toward eventual success.
Above all else, treat the KYPTAC team as a member of your team. We are here to help you succeed and we understand that the process can be daunting. There are no bad questions. Call on us through every step of the process from registration, to bidding, to reviewing your bids and finding new opportunities. We win when you win, so do not hesitate to reach out to your KYPTAC procurement consultant any time.
Good luck and remember, its not about skill, it’s about persistence!
This article was originally published in our monthly KYPTAC Newsletter. If you have any questions about this topic, your KYPTAC consultant is here to help! Not a client? Sign up here.