5 Objectives to Have During a Government Briefing

Understanding the government reporting process after a proposal loss can be invaluable to a company if approached from the right perspective. Most companies request a report with two things in mind. First, they hope to magically persuade the contracting officer through a face-to-face meeting that they think of the wrong company and second; they want to fish for information to determine if they should protest. I’m here to tell you that BOTH, in most situations, are a bad idea. In fact, requesting a formal report and then using that report as ammunition to protest can often hurt your chances of doing business with an organization simply because it can be seen as a pest. Instead, I suggest you focus on the following five goals:

1. Find out the significant weaknesses and shortcomings of your proposal. Companies often miss an opportunity because they don’t clearly communicate the value of what they’re selling, and more importantly, they don’t map their capabilities directly to what’s called for in the RFP. But that’s just one aspect of what you should be looking for. A contracting officer can also discuss how you rank/rate compared to the other companies, where you were strong in the proposal and where they felt you lacked clarity, past performance and/or how you adequately addressed their specific requirements.

2. Gather competitive information. One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of a report is that a report gives you a great opportunity to discover competitive information such as price, product information, past performance, etc. of the winning company. The value of this information is being able to adjust your price and margins to be competitive NEXT time. This will give you valuable information that will allow you to determine if you can really be competitive next time or if there is no point in you looking for this type of work and therefore stop wasting valuable time looking for contracts you can’t. gain. For example, you may learn from the report that your overhead costs are too high and that you must resolve these issues to offer competitive prices.

3. Build a stronger relationship with the contracting officer. The way you request a report is very important. Remember that contracting officers are overworked and don’t have time for their daily duties, let alone handle your report. More importantly, whether informal or formal, you are ALWAYS being evaluated. How you handle a win is one thing and you will be rated for that, but how you handle a loss is also important. A bad attitude and subpoenaing the FAR will eventually get you the report you requested, but it can cost you dearly in the long run. Instead, use this time to build a friendly and respectable relationship with the contracting officer.

4. Ask questions. You want to ask reasonable and relevant questions. It’s okay to play dumb a little and fish like Colombo, but be courteous and respectful and keep it related to this specific opportunity. A simple technique is to start by saying something like: “Sorry if this is a dumb question, but…” or “Sorry if this question seems obvious, but I’m doing my best to learn.” of each loss and you could use a better understanding about…” Using simple opening sentences like that will give you the opportunity to ask additional questions and build rapport with the contracting officer. Also be sure to use my favorite keywords personal words, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Could you help me?” Those words will give you much more information than quoting the FAR.

5. Learn from this loss. How do you capture the lessons learned and how do you ensure that you take these lessons into account in the next proposal? You set a process in motion, that’s how. Because, after all, gathering the intelligence you need is only the first part of the battle. If you really want to win the next battle, and ultimately the war, you MUST have concrete processes in place that allow you to incorporate these lessons learned into every future proposal process. The systems are repeatable and once you establish the correct system, the winnings become repeatable.

It takes a lot to understand the debriefing process, when you can and can’t ask for one, how to prepare for the debriefing, how to behave during the debriefing, how to collect lessons learned, and most importantly; how to implement the lessons learned into a repeatable winning system. Do yourself and your company a favor by understanding the nuances of the debriefing process so you can get the most out of it.

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