How to deal with contracting offices that don’t allow interaction with industry?

During Bob Lohfeld’s recent Bold trends in capture and proposal management webinar, part of the Lohfeld Business Winning Webinar Series, Bob presented some of the more interesting trends in capture and proposal management and discussed how these are changing the competitive landscape for companies looking to increase their win probabilities.

Bob answered a number of questions for webinar participants during and after the webinar. This blog series presents those questions and Bob’s answers.

Q: With respect to testing our proposed solutions with the customer to obtain feedback, how do you deal with contracting offices that do not allow interaction even well in advance of even a draft RFP?

A: You want to validate your assumptions and test your solution with the customer before locking these down. If you are pre-RFP and the contracting officer won’t allow discussions, then that individual is doing you an injustice, and hopefully you can use the attached myth busting memos to open up communications. These memos were written by the heads of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy to deal with exactly the issue you raise.

Myth-Busting 1 Memo Feb. 2011

Myth-Busting 2 Memo May 2012

If none of this works, then find a surrogate for your customer. Use a former government employee or consultant. Try a subcontractor who might become a team member. There are lots of options. The important thing to remember is you don’t want to base your entire proposal on assumptions that are untested and a solution that may end up being what you want to offer, but not what your customer wants to buy.

Click to watch the webinar replay and download Bob’s presentation.

How do you deal with contracting offices that don’t interact with industry—even before draft RFP release? Send your thoughts to me at, and we’ll share your advice in upcoming posts!