Benjamin Franklin reportedly said “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom.” Associates of our client SMA, Inc., got to experience several pints of freedom (along with several glasses of wisdom) from two experts in our recent TOD on Tap Professional Series held in the ballroom of the historic Army Navy Club in Washington DC’s Farragut Square.
The event featured Bob Gurin, a 30+ year SMA Proposal Manager, and John Prior, the head of SMA’s Consulting Practice, who shared nuanced insights from their vast experience solving client problems. The crowd was a mixture of SMA Associates living and deployed in DC along with invited guests.
Peter Sherman, SMA Business Development Lead, opened the event with a rousing call to attention reminiscent of opening day at Nationals Park. He noted that SMA is disrupting the marketplace with innovations like Talent On Demand (TOD)® (SMA’s implementation of TOD PRO®), our pioneering new way of matching associates with clients’ needs. SMA CEO Ajay Patel and COO Jacque Keats carried that theme forward when introducing the featured speakers noting SMA’s renewed commitment to introducing innovation across the program lifecycle.
One Proposal Leadership Style Does Not Fit All
The first featured speaker, Bob Gurin, presented The Evolution of Winning Proposals. Drawing upon his own experience and the accumulated knowledge of several senior proposal managers (Lee Manthei, Herb Iburg, Holly Hope, and Liz Chamberlain), he described the evolution of proposals across the years and showed how success factors have changed. “Different techniques and talents are required to lead a winning proposal depending on the product area—even though they are all Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)-based solicitations… and the difference is not necessarily the technology, but rather the culture and nature of both the client and the customer,” remarked Mr. Gurin.
Bob focused on what it takes to create winning proposals for system development in three industries: weapon systems, information technology (IT), and healthcare/pharmaceuticals. By analyzing the typical technology window, customer focus, and client culture in each industry, Gurin highlighted the differences that are required to lead successful bids in each area.
He identified three distinct proposal leadership styles that are often best suited for each industry’s dynamics:
- The General for weapon system development
- The Partner for IT system development
- The Respected Advisor for healthcare pharmaceutical development
Gurin concluded that organizations must recognize industry differences when selecting the best personnel for deployment on proposals.
Informing “What Should You Bid” with “What You Should Do”
The second featured speaker, John Prior, presented Getting More Value Out of CA/PTW where he highlighted unique aspects of the SMA process that ensure competitive assessment and price-to-win (CA/PTW) solutions are informed by strategic choices.
Mr. Prior noted that most competitive assessment / price-to-win efforts use predictable frameworks that generate “table stakes” answers which generate limited insights and produce a generic “check the box” answer. This industry norm is proven ineffective for proposal teams serious about setting the stage to win.
Mr. Prior detailed the true steps necessary to produce meaningful insights that incorporate a detailed customer assessment with bottom up and top down price-to-win analyses and meticulous competitor assessments. Combining SMA’s “what you should bid” analysis with strategic insights about their customers and their competitors, SMA is able to develop a deal to win strategy highlighting what a client should do and what win themes they should include.
The end result of SMA’s CA/PTW is translating goals and aspirations into insights on:
- Where to play
- How to win
- How to configure
- What initiatives to prioritize
Enhancing Tradecraft Excellence in the SMA Community
The evening ended with “spirited” discussion and renewal of ties to fellow Associates. The DC TOD on Tap successfully continued its mission to allow SMA Associates the opportunities to discuss and exchange new ideas born of field experience. We look forward to hosting additional events around the country.