Here’s a question I received last month from a Business Incubator Program participant

Past Performance

Hi Karla,

I was looking at the past performance template that you gave us for a guide. My problem is that my commercial clients are reluctant to provide a reference much less, fill out a form, because they are afraid of being sued. The most I can get them to do is to confirm that we worked with them, the time frame, a description of the services and that’s about it. Some will say we are in good standing – others will not.

Considering this, how do I gather the type of past performance that I need to compete for a government contract?

Frustrated in Fresno


Here’s how I approach this

Past performance is the challenge.

But first let me say, it’s great that they will verify the work you have done. Sometimes that will be enough. But other times the government wants more details and information submitted to them directly from your past and current clients.

How do you prove you did a good job when everyone in the commercial sector is reluctant to talk due to fear of retribution? Let alone fill out a Past Performance Questionnaire and send it to the CO directly.

This has worked for me and many of my clients.

Fill out the form in my template pack yourself. Be factual and objective. Include the contact information for your clients
Show the completed form to your client. Explain the purpose of the form and give them an opportunity to comment on its contents. Explain to them WHY you completed this form and the importance that the government places on past performance.

In my experience, the only way to overcome this challenge is through honest, transparent conversation. Not everyone will care about your challenges or will respond well to this conversation and you efforts to explain why you need their help. But some will. That’s why relationships matter. In every aspect of your business.

Be persistent. I know this is yet another challenge and can seem exhausting. But the payoff can be great.


Readers: What has worked for you?