Once a decision is made to qualify (pursue) a lead, lead qualification activities commence.
A BD executive or Line Manager assigns lead qualification responsibility to an Opportunity Lead (OL) – usually a BD Manager or Project Manager. This individual then visits clients and other companies to gather marketing intelligence. Typical questions include:
- Is this an existing or a new program?
- Is the program viable?
- Is the funding stable?
- What are the client’s needs?
- What are the client’s hot buttons?
- Can company be a legitimate competitor for the task?
- Who are the incumbent(s) and how are they doing?
- At what price did they win last time?
- Who are the “perceived” top contenders, the likely competitors?
- Who has the most qualified project manager?
- Are there important, well-connected key players?
- Who are the likely evaluators?
- What other resources/actions should we plan for (FOIA, D&B reports, outside consultant support)?
One of the key objectives of this phase is to develop an understanding of the client’s problems and needs and to develop unique solutions. Discuss the solution with the customer, confirming its fit, and emphasizing discriminators that would motivate the customer to prefer your company. Seek to learn about needs and priorities that are not already addressed by the solution and any risks that the customer perceives with the solution that require further clarification or mitigation. The ultimate goal of this interaction is to motivate the client to award a sole source contract to your company or to favor your company during a subsequent competitive procurement.
The OL is responsible for establishing a new opportunity in the LTS and providing lead qualification updates. All opportunities will be officially reported at the weekly pipeline status review and through verbal and email correspondence between meetings. Cat. A (most important to the company) opportunities should be discussed at regular senior management meetings. Any important opportunity documents such as old contracts, draft government correspondence, statements of work and technical documents should be attached to the opportunity in the LTS.
When enough information is collected, the OL schedules a Step 2 decision to capture review with the BDC. The OL presents a draft Bid Decision Matrix to the BDC in order to stimulate the necessary discussion.
The Step 2 review facilitates transferring the primary responsibility for the opportunity from the OL to the CM. In some cases, depending on staff availability and skills, the OL may continue as the CM. This review is a formal PowerPoint briefing presented by the OL. The purpose of this review is to facilitate the decision whether to commit additional operational resources to capture the opportunity. The Step 2 review process can be iterative, meaning there can be more than one Step 2 review if not enough information was presented to make a capture decision during the first review.
The vehicle for presenting the Step 2 review consists of two parts: the updated LTS opportunity to address the information in the list below and a completed Bid Decision Matrix, either automated or using a Company Bid Decision Template similar to the following table.
GOVPROP Bid Decision Matrix to download a Bid Decision Template.
The Step 2 Review PowerPoint presentation should cover the following information:
- All information presented during the Step 1 review
- All pertinent dates for scheduling (RFP dates, RFI dates, award dates, etc.)
- Customer Needs
- Strategic Fit
- Customer Contacts
- Win Strategy
- Discriminators and Themes
- Potential Teammates
- Internal Capture Team
- Staffing Plan
- Competitive Assessment
- Customer Hot Buttons/Win Probability Factors
- Sales Call and Action Plan
Of course, the information to be covered will vary according to business area. For instance, construction, information technology, aerospace design or professional services support.
The Bid Decision Matrix illustrates the progress that is being made in pursuing the opportunity. It also provides the justification for a bid-no bid decision and, in the case of a bid decision, highlights the weaknesses that need to be addressed to accomplish a win.
The result of the Step 2 review is an agreement on who will be the CM for the opportunity. The CM will have to identify/request any necessary resources. Upon acceptance of the material presented at this Step review (or a later Step review, if there needs to be a follow up), the CM will revise the status and win probability in the LTS.
The third phase of the BD process is discussed in detail in the Phase III discussion.
– M. Lisagor