Can you win without past performance?

The answer? It depends…

The government is extremely risk averse. For that reason they rely heavily on past performance in making award decisions.

What can a company without past performance do to win a contract? Is it even possible?

Maybe. Like everything else it depends on getting all the dominos lined up just right to win.

Here are a few things to thinks about.

What do you sell? Is it a commoditized product or service where there
is very little difference between you and everyone else who sells the same thing.

In this instance, you may be able to win on price because there shouldn’t be a basis to pay a price premium. If that’s you – ok use it to your advantage. But beware that you’re only a winner until the next newcomer with no past performance undercuts your prices.

Who knows you? Do you have relationships with government decision makers or those close to decision makers? What about relationships with other government contractors?

The more people you know – and who are willing to advocate for your competency – the easier it will be to overcome the government’s skepticism about awarding contracts to companies without past performance.

What have you done – in past careers, businesses or jobs – that might make the government sit up and take notice? The regulations allow agencies to consider similar success in a past performance evaluation.

However, they are NOT required to do so. This means that you will likely need an insider advocating for you – or a very compelling story.

Can you partner with a subcontractor and use their past performance to alleviate concerns about the risks of awarding to you?

Again, the answer is it depends. There is a new SBA regulation at 13 C.F.R. 125.2 says:
Capabilities, past performance, and experience. When an offer of a small business prime contractor includes a proposed team of small business subcontractors and specifically identifies the first-tier subcontractor(s) in the proposal, the head of the agency must consider the capabilities, past performance, and experience of each first tier subcontractor that is part of the team as the capabilities, past performance, and experience of the small business prime contractor if the capabilities, past performance, and experience of the small business prime does not independently demonstrate capabilities and past performance necessary for award.

As you can see, this regulation is rather limited. It applies only when four factors are met: (1) the prospective prime contractor is a small business; (2) the prospective prime does not independently demonstrate the past performance “necessary for award; (3) the subcontractor is a first-tier sub; and (4) the subcontractor is itself a small business.
Limited as it is, this regulation can be very helpful to small businesses in appropriate cases. Like the joint venture regulations we discussed in #2, Contracting Officers aren’t always aware of 13 C.F.R. 125.2(g), so small businesses should be prepared to raise the matter if necessary.
Source: Small GovCon

How can I use this information?

Engage in the “so what” test. It goes like this.

Ask: “If I were the government decision make that had to justify that I was confident that this company would succeed by delivering on time in a compliant way, would facts would I present?”

Your job is to make sure they can confidently give answer much like these.

1. Cost is the only factor that matters because this is not a complex contract.
2. I’ve met with this company and so has my technical team. We grilled them and they answered every question factually and convincingly. They haven’t performed to this magnitude – yet. But here’s why I know they can do it based on facts and figures. They also work with XYZ company/agency as a subcontractor and they were able to prove in our meetings that we could trust them.
3. The project team lead had work at these impressive places. We have to consider this fact because iit really does distinguish them from the other competitors.
4. Look who they have on their team. Do you really think that top ACE contractor number 1 would risk their reputation with an incompetent partner?

Use the rules and the risk averse culture to make it easy for them to make a good by giving them the facts they need to have the confidence that YOU are the best choice !

From Data to Sales Strategy

The strategy you ultimately select will be based on what the data tells you about your best prospects. Certain elements of the data in the FPDS system records who buys […]

How to find opportunities

The information on how the government spends taxpayer money on contracts for goods and services is available for free to anyone who cares to navigate their less than user friendly database. Figuring this system out takes time that most small business owners don’t have.

This is why I have partnered with Federal Compass. Federal Compass is a powerful tool that provides the data you need in an easier manner. It is also a tool that provides insight into what that data means.

Schedule a demo to see how Federal Compass provides you with the data you need, helps you analyze that data, and saves you time. After you complete your demo, contact me and I’ll set you up with a free trial of this powerful system.


Schedule your Demo Today!

Winning Government Contracts requires a fact based approach

Winning government contracts is a process. Your first assignment was to research who in the government purchased your product or service. The next step is to analyze this data to answer three questions.

  1. How do they buy what you sell?
  2. Who do they buy it from?
  3. Is it a repetitive buy? And if so – when are they likely to buy it again?


The answer to the how question tells you the contracting method and whether any type of small business set-aside was used. First the small business set aside answer. In many cases, once a requirement is placed into a set-aside program, it typically remains in that program. Your path to winning a government contract must be based on a strategy that leverages this fact to your advantage.

The contract method is a little more involved but just as important in developing your strategy to win government contracts. It reveals whether any type of special contract is needed in order to submit a competing bid or proposal. Many companies limit their search for RFPs and RFQs to bid on to to find RFPs and RFQs. This could be a mistake.

For example, if the majority of the contracts issued to buy your product and service were made from a GSA Schedule you need a strategy to sell using the GSA Schedule. Why? Because if you don’t have a GSA Schedule there is no way for you to submit proposals or quotes to win a government contract. In fact, you won’t even see these requirements until after they are awarded. The GSA schedule is not the only such contract vehicle that the government uses to award government contracts faster and easier. Any strategy that does not take this historical data into consideration is reactive and much less likely to produce government contract awards.

The answer to the who they buy it from question tells you who your competitors are. Study this list carefully and ask yourself what you know about these companies. If you are like many of my clients, once you have the hard data in front of you, you begin to realize you really DON’T know who your competitors are. This puts you at a disadvantage.

The final analysis of timelines reveals when the government is likely to buy your product or services NEXT. This information, along with an understanding of the stages in the buying process tells you WHEN to schedule each of your outreach and marketing activities.

All of this puts you ahead of the game you must play to win government contracts. As a result, you only compete for the opportunities where you enough information to develop a strategy that produces more government contracts wins.