The keywords that some use when searching for opportunities produce a lot more false hits that the keywords that other companies use. The suggestions below can help you reduce the number of pages of irrelevant opportunities you have to wade through to get to the good ones.
But even when you do have to manually read them to determine whether they are relevant, if you have clarity about what leads you don’t want, you can greatly accelerate things. You can establish a process based on reading until you see one of the negative indicators then skip it and move on.
The more you try to leave the door open to anything that might possibly “be a bid” the more you risk missing valid leads because of all the false hits. Sometimes looking for more ways to rule out the things that are low probability bids can help you be more successful at finding the bid opportunities that are good. The suggestions below can help you think of ways to rule out low probability bids. The faster you can do this, the more valid pursuits you can scan.
- Customer targets. Do you accept leads at any potential customer, or do you have particular customers you target? If your keywords procure a lot of false hits, restricting the search to specific customers can eliminate a lot of noise.
- Prime vs. Sub. When do you go after work as the prime contractor, and when do you pursue being a subcontractor? What words might you look for that would indicate whether an opportunity would be a fit as a prime or as a sub? Does your company have targets for the amount of prime vs subcontracting? Can you intentionally search for prime/sub opportunities, or must you search for relevance and then decide whether to prime or sub? Are you missing opportunities as a sub by only searching in areas where you can bid as the prime contractor?
- Capabilities. When it comes to filtering, what you don’t do is as important as what you do. While you start by searching for keywords related to what you do, you can filter the results by eliminating the keywords for what you don’t do. For example, if you don’t touch hardware you can use hardware terminology to filter out opportunities that include it in the requirements. If your search platform supports NAICS/PSC/other codes, you can also use them to eliminate opportunities that use your keywords but are about procuring other things.
- Locations. Some companies don’t work in certain places. Some will work anywhere. Some will work in certain locations only if the project is large enough. For example, do you work outside the continental United States (OCONUS)? How big a project would be required to make it worth it?
- Sizes. It is very disappointing to find an opportunity that is exactly the right type of work only to find that it is so small it’s not worth pursuing. There are many ways to size a potential opportunity. Some of the most common include the number of hours, number of people (or FTEs), potential award value, and number of units (any kind). You can and should calculate the number needed to make an opportunity worth pursuing.
- Schedule and time issues. Is it a short term project that’s not worth it to you? Is the delivery schedule reasonable? Is the staffing temporary where you need permanent placements? Or vice versa? Do they require shifts you’re not interested in covering?
- Teaming. While you can filter by eliminating the keywords for what you don’t do, if you have potential subcontractors who can fill the gap it might be worth pursuing anyway.
- Financial requirements and contract clauses. Are there contractual terms and conditions that you can’t live with? Would you skip bidding if the customer will require liquidated damages? What about insurance or bonding? Or auditing requirements?
Advance search parameters. Does your search platform support Boolean search operators (and, or, nor)? Can you designate strings with quote marks? Can you control the order of operation using parenthesis? The syntax used for these can be different on every platform. You might have to look them up. But they are very powerful for filtering. They can be used to filter out “procurement support services” from all instances of the term “procurement” or any opportunity that happens to have the words “procurement,” “support,” and “services” in it but is really an opportunity for landscaping contractors to bid. You might also be able to use date ranges, restrict searches to particular fields, and more depending on your search platform.