Why Past References are the Key to Future Success

Austin, TX
References Blog

“I provided the lowest bid and still didn’t win the government contract I went after, what happened?”

– Every contractor everywhere at some point.

Sound familiar? There are lots of factors that could have come into play when deciding that you were not the right fit for the job and one may be your references or lack thereof. As we documented in our last blog post the lowest bid possible is not the only factor used to determine a contract award. Past performance is a huge component of winning bids. Here is what you should know and what to avoid when putting together your references.

References Are More Than Just Names and Phone Numbers

Simply listing the contact information of a Procurement Agent/Purchasing Manager that you have done business with is the worst thing you can do. This puts the onus on the agency you are looking to do business with to track down your reference and find out what you did for them. Instead provide them with background information, what your contract entailed, how your performance met or hopefully exceeded expectations and how the relationship was successful.

Focus on Your Performance Not Your Products

When listing how you performed your duties for your reference include more than just a list of products and services you offer. This should be clear based on the proposal you submitted. Instead describe how your products and services were utilized to solve the issues of your last contract. Provide insight into how they benefited and how success was obtained. 

Eliminate the Guess Work

You may have several references from several different projects, each one of them may have used you for a different service. It is important when selecting your reference that the work you did for them matches up with the new work you are trying to get. Make it easy for the agency to see why this reference is relevant. 

Treat Your References with Respect

If you are fortunate enough to secure a reference from a previous agency, it is important that you don’t abuse their generosity. Ask for permission every time you are going to submit them as a reference for new government contracts. Furthermore, make sure they have given you permission to disclose information that is proprietary to the work. Follow up often, and keep them informed so they are not caught off guard and prepared to vouch for you and your work. 

References are an important part of the review process for most proposals, so make sure you secure them early and that they are an excellent reflection on your commitment to your business.