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Internal vs External PTW - Similarities & Differences - Part 1 (10-24-14)

As you probably know, for competitive procurements, Price To Win (PTW) is designed to improve business development (BD) win rates by providing a detailed, independently derived, and competitor-based view of where winning price points need to be. Government contractors of all stripes have widely embraced PTW and recognize the importance of developing competitor-focused price targets. For many firms, PTW, be it provided organically or by an outside firm, has become a pre-requisite of a capture campaign's ability to pass through capture process review gates. PTW now has a seat at the bid pricing table since prevailing best practices dictate that the PTW view of major business opportunities, when developed by skilled, professional PTW practitioners, should be a significant consideration in addition to the capture, strategic pricing, and management team's view of what, all things considered, it will most likely take to prevail on price, and why.
The role CAI/SISCo plays is that of external provider of PTW studies and trainer and coach to corporate capture teams, business developers, pricers, and internal PTW practitioners. PTW's growing acceptance as an internal BD function led me to wonder what it is like to be an internal PTW practitioner within a medium- to large-size contracting firm. So, over the past few months, I have made it my business to interview as many internal PTW practitioners as I could to find out:
  • how they go about doing what they do;
  • how they fit into their firm's BD structure; and
  • what resources are typically provided to support their activities.
The most important thing I have learned from my research is that internal PTW staff ("PTWers") mostly work solo rather than as a part of a PTW team. Usually, an individual PTWer is assigned to support one or more pursuits with the expectation that this individual will be able to design, develop and deliver a persuasive PTW case to a skeptical capture team. This is interesting, since CAI/SISCo's experience has been that PTW requires equal parts of information discovery, solution development, modeling and the development and staging of a persuasive presentation, all performed within the context of a team environment. All of these attributes are rarely found in one individual. What CAI/SISCo has proven over many years is that the horizontal alignment of specific talents (supported by detailed procedural cook books) works much better than a vertically aligned, "Jack Of All Trades" or swashbuckler approach.
Another issue common to the folks that I pulsed is that corporate PTWers rarely mount a canvass of interested parties as part of the process of gathering situational awareness. Instead they tend to rely on polling internal customer-facing resources to develop their wetted-finger-against-the-wind view of the competitors, their teammates, and their relative positioning. While this lack of information outreach is somewhat understandable, given that many contractors ply for business in fairly well-defined market segments against a limited array of competitors, it could be viewed as a recipe for failure in a marketplace that is increasingly characterized by old adversaries and new entrants seeking to disrupt established orders.
Contrasting the internal PTW realities cited above with the external PTW approaches that my firm has pioneered, developed, trained and promoted, one could reasonably conclude that internal PTW and external PTW are different jobs. The main difference, it seems to me, is one of focus. The internal PTWer is focused on opportunities as part of an extended capture team(s). It is not, by-and-large, in his or her purview to:
  • support PTW peers with information;
  • develop situational awareness independent of the information filtered by internal company resources;
  • husband learned information and make it, and learned lessons, available for future capture campaigns; or,
  • establish, refine, and champion a common set of shared modeling and analysis tools to support dialog and analysis across various stakeholder groups involved in the company's capture process.
External PTWers, on the other hand, focus on these three things:
  • developing and presenting a well-supported and well-reasoned case for what it will take for the customer to win;
  • suggesting how, by applying pricing strategies (i.e., Strategic Pricing), the customer's PTW can be profitably met; and,
  • carefully pre-positioning non-proprietary learned information from all sources so that the next engagement does not have to spend valuable time to re-learn what is already known.
To help internal PTWers develop and maintain standard, well-understood processes and procedures, CAI/SISCo now offers coaching services designed to improve the efficacy of internal within pursuit teams and the overall BD organization. This coaching strives to focus capture teams and capture management on what they need to learn from PTWers and how PTW products should be developed. Please call Tony Constable at (301) 807 8171 to discuss how CAI/SISCo can coach your organization to PTW and strategic pricing success on your next "must win" capture.
Good luck and happy hunting!
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