Avoid “No Bids” and win better deals

Bid at a higher Pwin and drive your win% through the roof!


No BD type likes to “no bid” a deal. However, if you chose to answer an RFP you should do so “knowing” that you:

  • Will win the business

  • Can perform and deliver profitably.

By definition, every pursuit ending on a competed solicitation has a Pwin less than 100%, it has risk. That said, BD/Capture and Proposal Managers’ job is to make sure their proposal’s Pwin is overwhelmingly higher than the aggregate Pwin of the competition. That is as close to “knowing” as you can reasonably get.

Winning proposals takes an available, trained, equipped and well-groomed integrated BD/Capture and Proposal Management team leading your all-star SMEs. You also need reliable and independently validated business intelligence (BI) with a healthy side of superior pursuit & market domain awareness (PMDA). That is the “knowing part.

Here’s the truth: If you bid without “knowing” you lose money on every pursuit that you win. You are likely in the blind and sometimes bidding against yourself.


  • If you don’t have thorough market research; you are guessing about what the customer’s needs are and who your real competition is.

  • If you don’t participate with the KO or Program Office in shaping the solicitation; you are leaving your capture plan to chance.

  • If you don’t have a seasoned insight into your customer’s pains and plans, and go with your gut or dated information; you are gambling that compliance is good enough.

  • If you don’t have a strong command of the market’s going rates for goods and services, and you your competitor’s practices; you are likely to “LPTA” below your profitable line in order to win.

Top performing BD/Capture and Proposal Management teams drive a >87% win record with profits (fee) north of 12%. They are “in the know” and “Knowing” is all about diligent preparation and readiness.

Here are five suggestions on how you and your team can join their ranks:

  • Establish a “Capture” practice within your BD team. Not saying that you need to add a W2 to your ranks, but you should fund that function, even if as a 1099. Spend time and effort shaping opportunities to both your benefit and the customer’s.

  • Develop, groom and maintain thorough addressable market plans. Make it your business knowing what programs and opportunities are funded, for how long and how the funds may be used. Review this content periodically and certainly with every major change in the Federal Budget. Evaluate and pursue only opportunities that best support the greater corporate plan.

  • Consult with an advisory board from “grey beards” in your network. Listen to their experience and let their voice guide you to success. Advisory boards can be formed permanently or temporarily, by teammates or hired talent alike. They will objectively tell you if you are ready to bid or not.

  • Implement a past performance database. Keep inventory of your wins and losses. Use the data to temper your decisions and to leverage lessons learned from every opportunity you have worked in the past.

  • “War Game” using collected business intelligence for use in present and future bids. “Color Team” reviews are a must. Evaluate your performance and pricing strategies. Know what the competition will bid and what price they are likely to command. Know what your PTW is, and more importantly the price to make money.

Top performing BD and Capture teams continuously evaluate every opportunity they have included in their capture plan. They evaluate risk and readiness posture for each opportunity pre-RFP, at RFP release, and definitely before final submission. In the end, they evaluate, pursue and bid only opportunities that best support the greater corporate plan “knowing” that they will win the business and can perform and deliver it profitably.

Does “knowing” have a cost? Yes. And you can’t avoid it, so might as well make wise investments.

Relying on a crystal or magic eight ball in lieu of “knowing” is not amusing to your corporation, least of all to your Proposal Management Team. Bidding a proposal is tedious work that requires meticulous attention to detail and consumes substantial corporate resources. Bidding is always a heavy lift, where even the simplest compliant response to your average RFI can burn through 80 man-hrs. in the blink of an eye.


Leaving aside opportunity cost for a moment, let’s have an SAT flashback and solve the below:

Mr. “Iknow Beedy” wants to chase an RFI in the blind because he has a good hunch, has to book something, and his bud from “back in the day” is running the outfit that is going to receive “the goods and services”. The proposal team, “both of them”, is working on four major captures and has at least twelve other proposals in the work funnel, but decides to support Mr. Beedy, who does this every – single – month.

You get the picture. 12 RFI responses X 80 man-hrs. = 960 man-hrs., or roughly 50% of an FTE. Said differently, your proposal team is down to 75% capacity, overworked, likely burned and forsaking the quality of other critical proposals. (The little voice in my head just said “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”)

How much do you think “knowing” will cost you? How much is “knowing” really worth? Whether W2 or 1099, the choice is yours to make. You need not build your BI and PMDA toolbox all at once or beyond what you budget for 2021. Start with small investments, internal or external, and make sure that you have your bases covered.

While I can calculate the cost of bidding carelessly or at risk, it will never compare to how much “knowing” is worth. The satisfaction of getting a multi $MM award letter earned through diligent preparation and readiness, and “knowing” your competition just lost their mind is simply priceless.

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