Many companies don't realize that their first government contract win will more than likely come from teaming. In fact, after speaking to literally thousands of government contracts, we estimate that nearly 90% of companies get their first contract as a subcontractor on a team. But that it just the beginning. A solid Programmatic Teaming Strategy (PTS) will easily increase your qualified opportunities by 400% or greater. The challenge for many companies is that they underestimate how teaming partners evaluate their capabilities, competencies, and value to the team.
For this piece, I want to focus on one of the more overlooked areas when it comes to teaming; your WEBSITE! How important do you think your website is when potential partners are evaluating your company? My guess is that you underestimate your website value to teaming. The first thing that you need to understand is that large companies evaluate dozens if not hundreds of companies each year. That's right, hundreds... And one of the fastest ways to scratch a company off their list and reduce their workload is by spotting an unprofessional website.
I recently conducted a test of government contractors in SAM (System for Award Management) and found that over 50% of the companies I reviewed had less than professional websites. So what does an unprofessional website look like? They typically wreak of the 90's. You know what I'm talking about. A frames based website with simple text links or worse, a great big image or flash video that takes forever to load and covers-up the entire page. But the real sign of a bad website is something that hasn't been updated in months or even years. I found one website that was last updated in 2009. That gives a bad impression to any company that visits. The ultimate "fail" is when you try to visit a company website and it doesn't exist anymore or it's been moved.
If you happen to make the cut past their initial review, here are the following things that MUST be on your site in order to be considered for the next step in the teaming process.
1. Are your core competencies listed and easy to find? I heard a great quote at a recent conference. The quote was, "If it doesn't say it, it doesn't say it". What do I mean by that? You can't assume that your website says stuff that it doesn't. You can't simply imply that you provide a service or elude to what your competencies are. You have to SPELL IT OUT and make it crystal clear. As my dad used to say, "it has to be clear enough for a blind man to see it."
2. Do your core competencies match what you have told them? I can't tell you how many times we speak to a partner and they say something is their competency, but it's not listed anywhere on their website. In fact, a lot of times, there's nothing even close to what they told us on their website. It's great to be able to talk a good game, but 1. NEVER embellish on what your capabilities are if you can't back it up and 2. You MUST be great at capturing your competencies and past performance through a process we call competency-mapping. This is the only way to make sure you clearly communicate your value to the team.
3. Do you appear as a jack-of-all-trades or a Subject Matter Expert? The only thing worse than not capturing your core competencies is capturing everything you have ever done. Appearing to be a jack-of-all-trades is often a quick way to get booted from a potential team. It communicates that you only MAYBE have the skills to perform on a contract and MAYBE is not the name of the game. What you want in this situation is to appear as a Subject Matter Expert or SME. An SME understands the client, the market, and product or service that the client is looking for. Think of it this way, if you need a brain surgeon, you don't want a general practitioner cutting you open do you? I know that's a crude example, but it's a simple one. Also, if I'm in need of a brain surgeon and I do my research on them and their website doesn't say BRAIN SURGEON, I'm probably going to move on to the next guy on my list. As an SME, your website should be full of content and screams you are an SME in your field, industry, and core competencies. In fact, one of the best ways to demonstrate this is to approach this as a thought leader. Thought leaders are experts who continually create articles, books, materials, and other evidence that they are experts in their field.
4. Do you have a government landing page? I know this one seems obvious, but I run across a lot of companies that are government contractors that don't have a government landing page. Remember that website study I referenced above that I conducted through SAM? During that study I found that only 20% of the companies I researched had a government landing page. Make it easy for potential partners and clients to understand that you work with the government by having a simple government landing page (I suggest one of your main tabs). The key pieces that should be on your government landing page are: Your Capabilities Statement, an overview / narrative of what you do and who you serve, a detailed listing of your core competencies, your NAICS codes, PSC codes, CAGE code, DUNS Number, a listing of your contract vehicles, and contact information.
5. Capabilities Statement - Many companies have this information listed as text on the page and while that is great, I highly suggest you put a PDF of your Capabilities Statement on your government landing page. The reason is that it just makes it easy for teaming partners and contracting officers to download, printout, or email.
These key items will make a massive difference next time your company is being evaluated as a teaming partner. If you have any questions about the quality, professionalism, and effectiveness of your website or government landing page, please reach out to me directly and schedule a website review. I'll give you honest and objective feedback that will help you make a better impression on the web. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you are a Federal Access Member, please check out the video on Government Landing Pages in the Video Library.
Michael LeJeune is a Senior Consultant and the Federal Access Program Manager at RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business-acceleration strategy firm that helps businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to winning government contracts. For more information, videos, and contact information, please visit www.rsmfederal.com