Contractors often falsely assume that 100 percent of the public opportunities out there are searchable or merely behind one paywalled aggregator.
Sadly, information is not distributed evenly across the aggregator/RFP database services. To make matters worse, most descriptions and deadlines are out-of-date ghosts of what used to be.
Seven Main Hubs for Scouting
Use any one aggregator service too long, and you'll only be finding about 30% of the total bids out there. So to cover all bases, we systematically filter through at least seven main bid hubs.
- Direct (Website): This is the agency's website, the third-party procurement system the agency uses (e.g. PlanetBids), or a reference to an opportunity found in council minutes.
- Direct (Agency Contact): We target points of contact directly to see whether a particular need is on the horizon, to gauge their willingness to accept our clients' solutions, and to learn about their priorities.
- Aggregators: Commonly used and selling to everyone, even the competition. While the information available doesn't go deep, it helps us calibrate our search parameters.
- Databases: Like the aggregator services, databases vary in usefulness. They are most effective for backward-facing pipelines, which we will explain in future articles.
- Invite-Only Lists: These often require a qualifying process prior to appearing on the entity's invite-only list. For example, USCYBERCOM will send invite-only opportunities to select vendors it knows are specialists in certain technology fields.
- Announcements: These include pings, alerts, newsletters, announcement bars, digital flyers, and notices.
- Social Media: We have various tags preconfigured on Twitter and LinkedIn to capture visible bids on these platforms.
RFP Analysts are trained in cross-referencing all data and going to the source (the issuing agency) when needed.
We will explore the topic of Keywords in a future article.
For now, it's useful to know that our firm handles the capture and refinement of client keywords, even as technologies evolve, use cases are developed, and so forth.
As we explore in our Getting Started article, we ask for at least three keywords after the first initial payment. While we appreciate when a client has exact keywords in mind, it's merely optional, and the performance of the Starter Package will hum along without client input in this area.
Certain specialities/fields, especially emerging technology consultants, face uphill challenges with traditional aggregators and keyword-based scouting methods.
- Use Case Hunting: Instead of thinking one dimensionally about your service, we ask, "What are the real-world applications of your service? Any efficiencies gained? Are those searchable?"
- Needs-Based Hunting: What does the community need in your target area? What are they bringing up to their city council? Is there overlap with your solution?
Scouting Within Your Pipeline
Pursuits deemed 'No Bid' are preserved because they typically return on the street as re-bids. Being able to learn from a previous bidding opportunity is extremely powerful; therefore your pipeline (depending on its maturation) can be ripe for scouting.