Understanding Solicitations (2023)

In this class we discuss the document reading process we recommend small businesses use, and if you are familiar with Shipley, or have taken other federal sales training you may notice some differences. We think that Shipley and other “Section M,L,C” based methodologies are excellent for large established government contractors that will principally prime any contract they pursue, but we think that our methodology is better suited for small and new vendors who frequently sub.

The questions you are trying to answer: The goal of reading the solicitation documents is to answer these core questions:
1) Can you do enough of the work that it is worth pursuing this solicitation?
2) Do you have a reasonable chance of winning?
3) Are there any show stoppers?

If you decide to pursue this solicitation you will end up reading the documents a few more times, but for now we want to answer these questions as quickly as possible.

The Process we recommend:
1) Start with your search: Because the government puts out so many solicitations each day step one is to create a search that surfaces the right contracts for you.  For more on creating a search see HERE.
2) Scan the statement of work (Section C): As a new company you are probably going to subcontract, or at the very least you should be ready to subcontract.  So we recommend scanning the SOW to see if there is a block of work that you can do.
-If there is go on to step 3
-If there isn’t throw this one in the trash and move on
3) Read the evaluation section (Section M): Once you have an idea about the work you might do look at the evaluation section and any background information in the solicitation.
If the evaluation process is misaligned with your business model (e.g. you are a premium provider and the government is looking for a low price provider) then consider tossing this opportunity
-If the evaluation process is not a show-stopper go on to step 4
4) Read the whole thing: Read the entire document from front to back.  This may seem like a waste of time but:
If you don’t have time to read the solicitation then you don’t have time to respond to it.
The government does a poor job crafting solicitations, so there may be work elements or evaluation information hidden in strange places
Look for any showstoppers

The rest of the class:
Each of the following sections give step-by-step instructions on how to complete each step above