Every business needs a pipeline, which contains all the opportunities the business is chasing along with:
- Associated values
- Key dates, such as RFP release and award dates
- Critical information on each opportunity
- Business development performance metrics, such as: bid rate, capture rate, and win rate
- Artifacts, such as meeting notes with the customer, capture plans, solicitation documents, etc.
In rapidly-growing Federal Government contracting companies, the pipeline contains a sufficient number of qualified opportunities to submit three bids every month. In that manner, a company can add a new contract every month, maintaining a functional engine of business growth. The three proposals must be well-qualified opportunities, not ones targeted using a “spray and pray” approach (as discussed in our Seven Deadly Proposal Sins – Gluttony). The companies that succeed sustain growth by identifying and pursuing opportunities systematically and aggressively submitting proposals.
To fill your pipeline to the point where you have three qualified opportunities to bid on per month, you must find opportunities through multiple sources. There are at least 12 ways to find opportunities for your pipeline:
- Learn about opportunities from online business intelligence databases early so you have time to run a full capture effort and frontload the proposal development process.
- Monitor your Customer’s Procurement Websites, as not all opportunities get posted on FedBizOpps.gov like they should. GSA’s eBuy opportunities are only advertised there; IDIQ portals advertise relevant task orders, NSA has its own portal (ARC), and so on.
- Regularly visit your customer to build a trusted advisor relationship. Leverage this relationship to find out about problem areas, hot buttons, and things they truly care about, with the ultimate goal of shaping new requirements in your favor—raising your probability of winning when the RFP is issued.
- Find out if your customer has an issue by talking to your workforce or subcontractors who work onsite with the customer. Meet with them to develop requirements and write unsolicited proposals to add scope to your existing work. Advertise your existing GSA schedule(s) and other multiple award vehicles to add scope to them as a task order.
- Solicit small purchases under the Simple Acquisition Threshold (SAT) or get sole source awards. Learn through marketing visits about urgent needs for opportunities that don’t require a complex procurement process.
- Create new opportunities that could benefit from your innovative and unique product or service by writing white papers and, in some cases, unsolicited proposals. Influence Congressional decision-makers to allocate funding to certain programs.
- Target a hunting prime. Find a prime contractor with experience within the agency that’s going after a contract you couldn’t prime yet, but could execute some part of. Craft an irresistible value proposition to them, and get on the bid as a sub or team partner.
- Find a hurting prime within the target agency that’s not doing well on a contract due to staffing shortages. Propose your personnel to them at the right price, and use this as a platform to build past performance and market to that agency.
- Get yourself found. List yourself as a vendor on websites like GovWin IQ, or other websites like the ones advertising Veteran Owned businesses; ensure your information is accurate in Sam.gov, SBA’s small business search database. Also, ensure your references are favorable in PPRIS and CPARS, etc.
- Register with large government prime contractors’ websites as a small business vendor. Then, market to their business development teams (whose information you can find on FBO.gov‘s interested vendors tab, or look up in GovWin IQ or Bloomberg Government).
- Attract Customers through online marketing techniques to have potential partners flock to you and to have the government send RFPs to you without your active prompting. Use groups on LinkedIn to advertise your services and expertise, and build relationships.
- Network at trade shows and schedule a number of appointments with customers and partners. Attend networking breakfasts, roundtables, and other formal and informal events and social clubs with target customers.
You need to mount a concerted effort and commit to a blitz campaign to fill your pipeline with opportunities. Pick at least a half-dozen of the aforementioned methods and implement them on a regular basis to jump-start your growth.
To learn more about building a pipeline, check out our self-study course, Blueprint for Federal Business Development.