Six Things To Consider Before You Bid When You Don’t Have Past Performance

November 21, 2023 | Business Development, Government

Photo by simarik on Canva

Companies new to government sales face challenges when entering the space. Success in this area hinges on an astute understanding of one’s competitive advantages and a systematic approach to bid preparation. Simply saying, “This is exactly what we do,” isn’t enough. This article delineates six factors to consider before submitting a government contract bid.

Have you completed comprehensive competitive pricing research?

A fundamental step for prospective bidders is to ascertain the competitiveness of their pricing strategy. This necessitates a comprehensive analysis of prevailing market rates and a thorough understanding of governmental budgetary constraints for similar services. Such insights are indispensable in formulating a financially attractive and viable bid. This criterion is even more critical if the RFQ is based on LPTA (low price technically acceptable).

Are you providing niche products or services?

In a saturated market, niche specialization can be a formidable competitive lever. Companies that excel in specialized services, especially in areas with limited (three or fewer) government contractors, possess a unique advantage. It is imperative to illustrate how such specialization caters to specific government needs more effectively than offerings from generalist competitors. Having some certification related to this niche offering only increases your chances.

Is government past performance part of the evaluation criteria?

Not all government proposals require a demonstration of past performance to be successful. If one does list government past performance as part of the evaluation criteria, you don’t have it. You will have a tough hill to climb. However, if it’s not listed, you may be able to leverage other strengths to win.

 Can you quantify your experience using metrics?

Your commercial and personal track record can be a persuasive indicator of potential success in government contracts, but it has to be communicated using metrics. Avoid buzzwords like high-quality, best-in-class, or customer-focused. Regardless of your commercial success, the government will view you as a start-up unless you can do this. Considering the government is VERY risk averse when doing business with companies, they are unlikely to consider anyone who looks like a start-up.

Was the bid sent directly to you by the government?

A direct invitation from a buyer can be a significant indicator of a company’s suitability for a contract. Evaluate if this email was canned and sent to multiple people. Did the buyer also put it on If it is not published to SAM and you see it was just sent to you (not bcc’ed), the buyer likely identified you as a qualified vendor. This recognition suggests that the business is perceived as competent by potential buyers.

Can you prepare and submit a bid in less than 10 hours?

An efficient bid submission process is crucial. Companies should evaluate if they (as a team) can compile a comprehensive proposal, including pricing and responses to all evaluation criteria, in 10 hours or less. Spending time on the most important

Wrapping It Up

While ideally, meeting all six criteria is beneficial, pragmatically, engaging in opportunities where at least four are met is strongly considered. Fulfilling less than four dramatically increases your chances of not being successful. As bids get more extensive and evaluation criteria become more complex, so does the go/no-go strategy. This go/no-go approach is most effective for offers under the simplified acquisition threshold of $250K but can also be used as a foundation for any go/no-go decision-making process.

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MYTH: Providing goods and services to the government means you have to wait forever to get paid.

FACT: Many government contracts are subject to the Prompt Payment Act which was enacted to ensure the federal government makes timely payments. Bills are to be paid within 30 days after receipt and acceptance of goods/services or after receipt of an invoice whichever is last. If a timely payment is not made, interest should be automatically paid.