We’ve all been there. You spend months defining your customer’s requirement and designing the perfect solicitation, but when it comes time to evaluate you’re underwhelmed by the quality of proposals received. None reflect what you’re looking for, and you had a few vendors in mind that didn’t even bother to propose.
What gives?? As a government buyer, you’re part of a collective that spends trillions of dollars worldwide. Don’t all companies want a piece of that pie?
The truth is, most commercial companies do want a piece of that pie, but don’t want or aren’t prepared for the calorie count that comes with servicing the government. Whether its special terms unique to your agency or non-standard security requirements, there’s a lot stuff that can turn off interested vendors.
Fortunately there are ways to cut the calories and thereby lower barriers for your target market. First and foremost, read your contract and look for non-standard clauses. Some won’t be relevant to the items being purchased, so ask if they can be removed. Be clear in your instructions to offerors so that vendors can provide you (and your evaluation team) with the information that matters.
A great technique is simply to ask suppliers what they think, which you can do by issuing RFIs and draft statements of work. Just know these take time and effort; companies may invest significant human capital to answer your questions. You can also pick up the phone and start calling, but be mindful that information shared with one company should be shared with everyone in the competition.
Read more on this issue in our recent discussion thread about improving market research.
For anyone looking to buy procurement technology, Public Spend Forum has a bevy of case studies, reports, and webinars to help you better understand this marketplace. Take a look and focus in on what you can do to structure solicitations that attract the best your target market has to offer.

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