Survival guide | You lost. Now what?

Two industry veterans share what companies should try to learn at the debriefing after losing a contract bid.

Interview with Bob Lohfeld and Steve Carrier

Our experts are Steve Carrier, former vice president of business development and strategic planning at Northrop Grumman Information Technology, and Bob Lohfeld, president of Lohfeld Consulting Group and former vice president at Lockheed Martin Information Technology and senior vice president of OAO Corp.

CARRIER: Find out as much about the pricing information as they will give you. It is very important to know where you were compared to the winner on price.

Next, how did your technical solution stack up against the competitors? Finally, what are the three or four things that caused you to not be selected? Get as many specifics as possible.

Also, after the protest period is over and you are not protesting  go back to the customer and potential members of the source selection board and try to find out the real reason you lost. After the protest period has passed, they are more likely to talk honestly to you.

Above all else, don’t argue with the customer. The outcome was his opinion, and that’s what counts.

LOHFELD: As you prepare for the debriefing, decide the right people to take to the meeting.

The government’s debriefing team knows what they can and cannot tell you. For you to get the most of the debriefing, know what you should say and how your team should conduct itself during the meeting.

Determine what three objectives you want to accomplish during the debriefing and make sure you accomplish them.

If the government determined that your offer failed to make the competitive range, would you handle the debriefing differently?

Think about what to do after the debriefing to make sure your team learns from it.

That way, you can avoid making the same mistakes on the next proposal you prepare.

This article with Bob Lohfeld was originally published in Washington Technology magazine October 30, 2008.