By Nichole L. Reber
The proposal experience is a vast one. It starts with selecting clients to pursue and eventually winds its way through business development and to us in proposals. Yet for some of us proposal managers, the churn-and-burn of our work leaves little time for entertaining thoughts about a proposal’s travels before it lands in our laps. Sometimes we’re ships passing in the night with the BD/Capture/Sales people in our own company. Other times we never meet such people, benefiting instead from consultant services.
This month, to abolish any misinformation or elucidate ourselves about this integral part of the process, APMP GMC is featuring a mini theme about BD/Capture/Sales. On Tuesday, 11 August, I’ll be moderating a panel webinar with a trio who represent a broad spectrum of the BD/proposal business. (Register here.)
First, however, I chatted across email with one of the most in-demand women in the industry, Marina Goren. Marina is President/CEO of Smart BD Consulting, Inc, an MD/DC/NVA area Capture and Proposal Development firm. Over the past 7 years she has successfully grown her company to over 150 consultants serving over 50 Federal Government contracting clients. She teaches numerous proposal development and capture courses. Ms. Goren continues to personally support her clients in pioneering new frontiers and winning large strategic bids, while running her company. She has been instrumental in winning billions of dollars for her clients (including a recent single award $1.2B win). Smart BD Consulting provides primarily proposal and capture support services, with some BD services as well. Prior to starting her own company, Ms. Goren was a Vice President of Business Development at ASRC Primus and helped grow the company from 2 to over 1,600 FTEs in just a little over 5 years. Ms. Goren had a progressive career in IT, Operations and Business Development for the past 23 years.
How do firms use BD consultants? Do you do one-off projects, or are you like a lawyer on retainer?
While Smart BD defines Business Development services as a broader scope of BD/Capture/Proposal support, I will answer in three parts:
Pure BD services that Smart BD Consulting provides include: pipeline reviews, gate reviews, BD/Capture/Proposal training courses, assisting with pipeline formulation, go to market plans, assisting with market evaluation and segmentation and general BD types of questions/support. We use several models for these services: T&M (for work that is larger and less defined in scope, e.g., Go To Market Plans that include specialized research, working to revamp processes); Firm Fixed Price (for specific deliverables, such as pipeline reviews, general go to market plans, training courses); monthly retainers (for pipeline formulation and reviews, general market research and general ongoing BD support/questions). One example of a recent engagement was a company brought us in to develop a customized presentation for building a centralized GWAC/IDIQ PMO (to market and respond to task orders across multiple GWAC vehicles).
Capture services we provide are tied to specific opportunities. Services include opportunity qualification, capture plan development and management/execution, customer call plan management and assistance with execution, team building assistance, solutioning, capture proposal support. Billing models range from T&M to retainer, depending on client and number of simultaneous captures supported.
Proposal services range greatly from proposal management to color reviews to writing to tech editing/graphics/pricing, the full gamut. Typically billed for on T&M basis. We also have a Proposal-As-A-Service model we provide on FFP basis with a win bonus attached.
When are you brought in?
The timelines vastly vary. Overarching BD services are not tied to any particular opportunity or timeline. Typically we are brought in when a business is ready to make an investment into their planned growth or needs to scale up their BD department to accommodate for growth that just occurred. Capture services are usually requested 6-12 months prior to RFP drop, although occasionally closer to RFP release timeframe. Proposal services tend to be requested immediately after or slightly before RFP or draft RFP drop date.
How do you build rapport with proposal managers?
That is an interesting question… mostly we supply them to our clients and they are used to working as a team. Our true BD’ers rarely interface with proposal managers, but Capture Managers are trained to work with them in a very integrated fashion. We have a list of artifacts that we transition from Capture to Proposal phases (e.g. Value Proposition, Solutioning Deck, Competitive Assessment, Voice of the Customer) and the Capture Manager works together with the Proposal Manager in lockstep throughout the proposal lifecycle.
What kinds of deliverables do you offer?
BD deliverables range widely from Go To Market Plans to Pipelines to BD Process and Artifact Templates. Additional deliverables are custom developed based on specific business needs.
Capture deliverables include Capture Plans, Customer Contact Plans, Black Hats, Solutions, Voice of the Customer and many others
Proposal deliverables include Proposal Management Plans, Proposal Outlines/Compliance Matrices, Schedules, written sections, graphics, Color Review comments, etc.
What industries employ BD consultants?
Smart BD Consulting supports primarily federal government contractors that span a variety of industries from aerospace engineering to IT to facilities support and construction services.
Register for the webinar to find out more about BD/Capture to enhance your knowledge, to consider your next career move, or to enhance your firm’s proposal process. If you have lingering questions you can also reach out to Dear GMC.
Nichole L. Reber is Webinars Chair of APMP GMC. Based in Chicago, she provides a range of services as a proposal management and editorial consultant and holds a staff position at STV, a multi-national architecture/engineering firm.