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Proposal Qualification Guide

How To Identify Good Proposal Opportunities



Qualifying A Proposal Concept

On average, in the absence of any additional information, a Phase I proposal has less than one chance in ten of being selected for award. In many cases, the odds are more like one in twenty. By thoroughly researching the answers to each of the following questions, the probability of winning can be significantly increased, perhaps to fifty percent, or better. The derived insights afforded by diligently answering the questions below help in at least two direct ways:

  1. The proposer can avoid submitting proposals with little or no chance of winning; and
  2. The proposer can significantly enhance the appeal of a response by strategically targeting the preferences of the expected reviewers.

The various sources of information are almost limitless. By all means be creative, but it is essential that the person contemplating a submission talk directly to the customer, if at all possible. Failure to have a personal conversation with the customer could be sufficient reason to "no-bid" an opportunity. When dialoging with a customer, be sure to listen carefully for signs of interest, unanticipated opportunities, potential show stoppers, etc. Be prepared to present and defend the results of your inquiries.

Is The Opportunity Real?

Which agency advertised the topic of interest to you?

What is the sponsoring agency's current mission?

How many new starts in this area do they anticipate this year?

What is the current dollar value of Phase I programs? Phase II?

Is your idea a good match to the topic?

Is your Phase I idea of interest to the technical monitor?

Is your Phase II deliverable of interest to the technical monitor?

Who will be the technical champion?

What are the alternative competing technologies?

If so, what are their strengths?

What are their weaknesses?

What references are recommended?

Who are the major players? The large corporate interests?

Can you visit some time? Make a presentation?

When do the new topics go in each year? Are they open to new ideas?

Can You Win?

Do you have a good story? A clear sense of need and benefits?

Do you have an innovative idea?

Do you have a commercialization plan?

Do you have the qualifications to succeed?

If previously submitted, have you addressed the deficiencies?

Can an aesthetic proposal be put together? In the time available?

Is Winning Worth It?

What are the opportunity costs?

What limited or new resources will be required? Is this acceptable?

What are the direct benefits?

What is the downside? Is this acceptable?

What are the indirect benefits?

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