Making an informed bid/no-bid decision


Having a repeatable bid/no-bid process is important to making an informed decision. Sometimes, decision makers allow the process to manage them instead of the other way around. Consider the following three components as the basis of making a good bid decision: the customer, the competition, and you.


Jerry Hogge, then Senior Vice President of Business Development at Qinetiq North America, said, “To me, the most controlling factor in making business development pursuit decisions is how well we know the customer, how well we understand their requirements, both expressed and intangibles, and what kind of credibility or experience we’ve had with the customer.”

You know that having a relationship with the customer benefits you because you have an opportunity to:

  • introduce the customer to your company, technical capabilities, corporate experience, and past performance;
  • understand the customer’s mission, goals, and strategic position;
  • gain intelligence on the customer’s hot buttons and issues;
  • make smarter bid decisions that best use time, company resources, and B&P.

Now, how does your customer benefit from all of this? You want to develop a long-lasting and trusting relationship with the customer, which helps them to:

  • understand what solutions the industry has to offer to a specific problem;
  • receive input from the industry that can help with developing a quality RFP;
  • have the reassurance and peace of mind that they awarded the contract to a company that is positioned to provide quality service or products.

A wired bid is rare. You can, however, through your relationship, convince the customer to potentially favor you by:

  • using meetings and discussions to vet your solution, service, and/or product and influence the customer’s decision;
  • understanding their hot buttons and issues in order to offer a solution that addresses their concerns and needs;
  • submitting information, such as brochures or white papers, to not only make the customer aware of your capabilities and potential solution, but to affect the requirements in the RFP;
  • demonstrating the ability to provide what is proposed by citing past performance and corporate experience examples.


Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your competition, and how your company stacks up against them, is just as important as knowing the customer. Having this information enables you to ghost competitors in your proposal and mitigate any weaknesses they may bring up about you in their submission.

You can gather competitive information on your own by using Internet search engines and Federal Government Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Search engines like Google can be very useful because they give you access to public information about the competition. Some of that information may include their current and previous relevant contracts, core competencies, and any preferred subcontractors they may team with. However, don’t rely solely upon the information you find using search engines. FOIA requests can provide a peek into previously submitted proposals, although information is limited since the Government will redact all proprietary data before handing anything over.

Never underestimate the amount of competitive information you can glean from interacting with the customer. For example, you could learn about the customer’s satisfaction with the incumbent on other contracts. You could also learn about the customer’s opinion of certain personnel a competitor is expected to bid. Gaining insight into the competition’s relationship with the customer tells you how successful they may be in influencing the RFP.

Analyzing all of this information at a Black Hat review is an excellent way to not only compare all potential competitors against each other, but to also compare each of them against your company. Examining a comparison matrix can be an eye-opening experience when you see how your company ranks against other anticipated bidders on an opportunity.


To ensure that an informed bid decision is made, there is one thing you can do that may not have been pointed out before. Please be honest with yourself. That’s right, be honest. Take the emotion out of the equation and present the facts as they really are–not how you want them to be. Having this $500M deal in your pipeline would look good, and winning that $250M deal would secure your bonus. You may be passionate about a specific deal and believe with every fiber of your being that it is a winner. Nonetheless, you must accept that circumstances may sometimes prove otherwise and be willing to walk away. In the long run, it is the best move.

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