If you serve in a BD role for any length of time, you will learn that the earlier you identify a qualified opportunity in the acquisition cycle (i.e. Pre-Milestone A or even sooner), the more time you’ll have to not only SHAPE requirements, but also procure R&D and B&P funding.
Early engagement in the cycle not only gives you additional time to orchestrate your internal processes – it also gives you the chance to influence the way your senior leadership views the opportunity. Their buy-in early in the process will help you secure Marketing, R&D, and Bid and Proposal investments in your venture.
An MBDi client recently won a major contract by moving their approach to customers “upstream … left of capture”. They positioned with the customer early in the procurement process and aligned resources/grants to help mature their technology.
Although they were not the program incumbent, they used their early engagement to build a relationship to influence the requirements for future business.
Our client shared, “While the incumbent was focusing on meeting production deliveries, we were setting the stage for the follow on contract that was two times the current program. We also used this time to get buy-in from our senior leadership, who eagerly tendered technology investment and B&P funding to eventually win the re-compete program.”
This may sound simple, but experienced BD personnel understand it is no easy task.
Once you shift to the “left” on an opportunity, there are a lot of behind-the-scenes events that go into the process. You will not only need to identify the cast of characters and develop contact plans for engaging target individuals, but also communicate with them effectively to gain perspective on their priorities and challenges.
The level of effort in this initiative is in direct proportion to how early you engage the customer and shape the opportunity. The more upstream, left of capture you are positioned, the less investment is required in resources to win business during the Capture and Proposal phase.
Similarly, the earlier your company’s senior leadership becomes aware of an opportunity, the sooner they can align the necessary resources to support your team.
By engaging your customer earlier in the process, you can take deliberate actions to shape the opportunity. If you also secure the early buy-in of senior leadership, you can align your Business Development activities with the investment of resources to deliver a better probability of win on your opportunity.
So shift, shape and secure … to win business and win more often.
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Founded in 1979, MBDi is a global Business Development services firm headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, providing expertise in Business Development best practices in the national security, defense, scientific, energy and engineering industries. MBDi’s mission is to transform our clients’ organizations and people into proven Business Development leaders by addressing the conditions and behaviors that assure positive culture change creating clear paths to success.