Understanding the government questioning process after the loss of a proposal can be invaluable to a company if approached from the right perspective. Most companies request a briefing with two things in mind. First, they hope to somehow magically persuade the hiring officer through a face-to-face meeting that they chose the wrong company and second; they want to fish for information to determine if they should protest. I’m here to tell you that BOTH, in most situations, are a bad idea. In fact, requesting a formal questioning, and then using that questioning as ammunition to protest, can often affect your chances of doing business with an organization simply because it can be viewed as a plague. Instead, I suggest you focus on the following five goals:

1. Discover the significant weaknesses and shortcomings of your proposal. Companies often miss out on an opportunity because they fail to clearly communicate the value of what they are selling and, more importantly, they do not map their capabilities directly to what was asked of them in the RFP. But that’s only one aspect of what you should be looking for. A hiring officer can also discuss how you rank / qualify relative to the other companies, where you seemed strong in the proposal, and where they felt it lacked clarity, past performance, and / or addressed your specific requirements appropriately.

2. Gather competitive information. One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of a debriefing is that a debriefing provides you with a great opportunity to discover competitive information such as price, product information, past performance, etc. of the winning company. The value of this information is being able to adjust your price and margins to be competitive NEXT time. This will give you valuable information that will allow you to determine if you can really be competitive next time or if it makes no sense for you to do this type of work and therefore stop wasting valuable time looking for contracts that you cannot. to win. For example, you can learn from the report that your overhead costs are too high and that you must solve these problems in order to offer competitive prices.

3. Build a stronger relationship with the hiring officer. How you request a report is very important. Remember that hiring officers work too hard and don’t have time for their daily tasks, let alone handling your report. More importantly, whether informal or formal, they are ALWAYS evaluating it. How you handle a win is one thing and you will be graded on that, but how you handle a loss is also important. A bad attitude and citing the FAR will eventually get you the report you requested, but it can cost you in the long run. Instead, use this time to build a friendly and respectable relationship with the hiring officer.

4. Ask questions. You want to ask reasonable and relevant questions. It’s okay to fool around a bit and fish like Colombo, but be courteous and respectful and keep it connected to this specific opportunity. A simple technique is to start by saying something like, “Excuse me if this is a silly question, but …” or “Sorry if this question seems obvious, but I’m doing my best to learn from each loss and might need a better understanding. about … “Using simple opening sentences like that will give you an opportunity to ask additional questions and report back to the hiring officer. Also be sure to use my favorite keywords, “Please”, “Thank you” and “Could you help me?” Those words will give you much more information than you could ever get by quoting the FAR.

5. Learn from this loss. How do you capture the lessons learned and how do you ensure that these lessons are taken into account in your next proposal? You start a process, this is how. Because, after all, gathering the intelligence you need is only the first part of the battle. If you really want to win the next battle and ultimately the war, you MUST implement concrete processes that allow you to apply these lessons learned in every future proposal process. The systems are repeatable and once you establish the correct system, the gains become repeatable.

It takes a lot to understand the debriefing process, when you can and cannot ask for one, how to prepare for the debriefing, how to behave during the debriefing, how to collect the lessons learned, and most importantly how to implement the lessons learned into a system. repeatable winner. Do yourself and your company a favor by understanding the nuances of the debriefing process so you can get the most out of them.

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