I was once speaking with a senior BD leader in my former company – and the individual said to me, “We spent $X and X amount of time on this capture already. What did I get out of it?”

It’s a trick question and one that can easily stump a capture manager. If you’re anything like me, you turn over every rock and you do everything possible to win your captures. To have someone in leadership imply that, “I didn’t get anything out of it,” it can sting. (BTW, you have to have thick crocodile skin when you’re a capture manager). The reason it’s a trick question is this. Leaders often de-value the amount of work and funding needed to invest to win, and have unrealistic notions about how much capture teams “should” be able to accomplish within a certain budget. They use these beliefs to drive the capture and proposal teams to “do more with less” and justify under-funding bids. Sadly, this just leads to churn and lost proposals. And this is nothing new. It’s been proven time and time again — join APMP and they talk about it all the time.

So, how did I respond?

  1. Document all of the accomplishments and catalog all of capture milestones, which are part of the standard process e.g. the black hat, pricing strategy session, solution review, etc.
  2. Be 100% transparent about the capture risks (the areas that are being underfunded or lack of resources)
  3. Discuss the competition and how they could beat you.
  4. Beat them with math and logic. Re-state the obvious: There is a direct link between the investment in the capture and the win probability. The more you invest, the more committed you are, the higher your P-win
    1. P-Win x the Total Contract Value = the Value You Received. (That should always be a much bigger number then the amount invested, obvi).
  5. Finally, recommend a value to invest. Show what capture activities that funding would enable, and how that will impact the P-Win and make it even greater.

A final note on this situation. IMHO, leaders need to spend more time asking, “how can I help?” rather than, “what I did I get?” In more cases than not, leaders who pose the former question, tend to be hands-off, disconnected from the reality of what is going on themselves. That is not helpful to capture teams — so don’t be that leader! =)