At Theme, we love to spotlight industry partners – especially those who are making positive contributions to disadvantaged small businesses.
This month, we’re over the moon about PTW Solutions and Founder and CEO, Jon Barker. Jon offers his clients a unique blend of vision and analysis, incisiveness and levity. It’s not too often you come across someone who can quote a character from Seinfeld while simultaneously providing crisp insight about the complexities of compliance.
Winning, Executing, and Profiting
Do you know which RFPs to bid on and which to avoid? Are you poised to win a contract and to execute it successfully as well? Do you understand the nuances of executing and profiting? Perhaps you’re simply curious about how to break into government contracts.
Regardless of your current position in the market, in order to succeed as a government contractor, you must first win a contract. And that means abiding by (often unspoken) pricing rules. While pricing may sound obvious, Jon explains that government contracting can be a labyrinth with trillions of dollars of potential earnings available at the end of the maze – and that magical number can lead you to major wins, painless execution, and significant profits.
If you’re looking for a guide to help facilitate the daunting process, let Jon be your chaperone; he is a maze wizard!
The Magic of PTW
PTW Solutions isn’t just the name of his company, it’s also Jon’s directive (the name of the company is short for Price to Win). With decades of GovCon industry experience working as an integral team member, Jon has helped develop proposals and negotiated directly with Contracting Officers. He understands contracting from a backend and “in the trenches” perspective. He brings his knowledge, experience, and network to help clients develop new business – and he shares strategies on identifying leads, targeting new and adjacent markets, and developing capture processes so clients can become their own experts (Check out, for instance, Game Changers Podcast to hear Jon in action).
For those new to the GovCon “game,” Jon recommends identifying a few relevant agencies and starting with an inquiry that focuses on identifying pain points and desired outcomes; doing so allows you to begin building a pricing strategy to accompany your developing proposal. And here’s where Jon helps create magic!
As you build a proposal, he says, keep pricing very competitive by being “lean and mean.” What does he mean? Especially for smaller businesses, Jon says to keep the “back office” stocked with generalists who can work broadly and intelligently to streamline processes and to keep output efficient. And then consider pricing one cent lower than the lowest competitor. He further contends, “It is better to be minimally compliant than fully compliant. Fully compliant makes companies expensive and slow, and regulations can be interpreted, so look for gray areas.” Lean and mean.
Shadowing Your Competition
Pricing your services or products as a commodity is no easy task. Even the most seasoned government contractor grapples with margins and competitive pricing. One of the coolest ideas from Jon’s toolkit? Shadowing your competition.
When he’s not quoting Seinfeld, Jon frequently shadows clients’ competitors to identify their pricing strategies. What is shadowing? Competitive assessments and market research that not only help position clients as they develop proposals, but also help determine which bids to pursue and which ones to skip. Jon helps companies increase their probability of winning by interpreting competitive signals and scrutinizing RFP language. All opportunities, he says, are not created equal – so PTW helps identify patterns from buyers and funding offices.
The Bottom Line
In the GovCon game, pricing is vital, and winning without profit isn’t winning at all. If you are able to maximize your company’s offerings and capabilities while aligning with the RFP, you’ll achieve maximum scoring. Those small businesses that have a price-to-win process in place prior to an RFP are much more likely to win – and succeed – in government contracts. And, Jon reminds us, every contract is different, so you’ll have to justify your rate with each new opportunity.
Achieving success is possible, especially when you have a trusted expert and facilitator to guide the way. PTW leverages bid strategy and back-end execution to help their clients triumph. Want more information? Schedule an appointment with Jon today and find out how you can price to win!