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Post-submission Strategies to Improve Success: Our Proposal was Not Selected, Now What?

In this series of blogs, we will discuss what companies and teams should do AFTER the proposal has been submitted and how some dedicated post-writing work could reap significant rewards in future efforts, whether you win or not.

No company wants to hear, or is planning to hear, that they lost the contract bid, but it happens more times than not. That is why it is so important not to waste any opportunity to improve your process or proposal content. This blog will discuss things you can do to turn a negative outcome into a positive result.


1. Request a Government Debrief


You are entitled to a government debrief – as long as you request a debrief, in writing within 3 days of being notified of the award decision. Win or lose, a debrief can be incredibly informative. It is an opportunity to gain valuable insights to improve your future proposals and processes. Debriefs may also provide you insight and help you develop a relationship with the contracting officer and staff. During the debrief the government may provide you with:

  • Overall strengths and weakness of your proposal

  • Your overall evaluation of price

  • Your technical ratings

  • For the winning proposal – price, technical rating, and rationale for award

  • Review of your Past Performance information – and provide info on how it was evaluated

The debrief will also allow you to ask questions. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • How many bidders were there?

  • What was your overall score and how did it compare with other bidders?

  • What was the score for the winning bid?

  • Did the winner have the lowest price?

  • Was your proposal easy to evaluate?

  • Any recommendations to improve future proposals?


2. Conduct an Honest Proposal Review.

Honestly assessing your proposal, processes, and team can be challenging but is critical to uncover underlying issues that are standing between your team and success. Some prompting questions included:

  • Did you misunderstand the government requirements/instructions?

  • Was your proposed approach or product the wrong design or miss the mark in answering the requirements?

  • Was your pricing strategy off?

  • Do you have weak past performance?


3. Integrate feedback into your process improvement strategy

Integrate this information into your process improvement strategy, making changes to your team, process, and templates. Then implement your process improvement, making sure to monitor and evaluate your changes. If you follow this pattern of honest evaluation and instituting necessary changes, you will hopefully only need to tweak the process as you move forward.


As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “honesty is the best policy”. If you and your team are willing to stare a loss in the face and be honest about the quality of your work, find real solutions, and change what needs to be changed, you will win the next bid.

To hear more, check out The Inside Scoop with Novelle.

Rita Simmons, Ph.D., is the founder and lead consultant of Novelle, where she provides business and research consulting to companies across a variety of industries. Dr. Simmons leverages her drive for innovation and excellence along with her extensive executive and military experience to help companies grow their business, drive revenue, and achieve strategic goals. When you’re ready to take your business to the next level, contact Dr. Simmons at info@novelleonline.com or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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