How much time do we waste each day by not asking well thought out questions? How much time do we waste responding to those questions? And, how much time is lost on both sides when someone doesn’t read, comprehend or care about the content of the question and responds with information that is of no use, essentially spam?
I see it everyday and live it just as often, though I do my best not to contribute to it. What am I talking about?
Have you ever received a request for a referral to a “Good 8(a) company” where that phrase is the gist of the ask? How would you respond to it? Considering there are companies fitting that bill in all 20 industry sectors (you know, the first 2 digits of NAICS Codes) located around the country, where would you begin? Would you just begin dumping the names of companies on the person asking, or would you try to qualify it? It happened just the other day on LinkedIn where a rep for a large prime contractor asked for a good company with a specific socioeconomic designation. In fact, she asked for the referral to possess 2 specific socioeconomic designations. That’s it. There was no information about agency alignment, specific skills, none of that. Now, I responded and referred one of our member companies who seemed to align to the part of the organization she was attached to, but ultimately, it was still a shot in the dark to know if it was a viable match. So far there have been 109 responses to an ask that would have been better by adding as few as 1-2 points of additional information.
Now, here’s the rub.
At last check, at least one-third of the responses were from or for companies not possessing either or both of the socioeconomic designations requested. I wonder if these folks just saw the line of responses and decided to jump on-board or if they read the initial request and just assumed they requester would be open to every other small business designation?
Now those companies meeting the initial criteria have their responses watered down by the seemingly mismatched responses and the person asking has too much information not relevant to the initial request.
It’s somewhat ironic because on the one hand we have federal agencies complaining they don’t receive enough responses to their solicitations although Uncle Sam’s ask has become increasingly costly to industry now that responding to an RFI is just as burdensome as responding to an RFP. On the other hand, we have situations like the one I saw on LinkedIn where companies who don’t seem relevant to the request are piling on, kind of like in football when players rush the pile even though they were clearly not part of the play. It’s not very helpful and can often result in a penalty.
The worst part is those seemingly irrelevant companies likely never see the flag being thrown in response to their piling on.
Guy Timberlake, The Chief Visionary
http://www.theasbc.org | @theasbcguy | @govconguy | @govconchannel
“The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.”
About Guy Timberlake
‘Go-To’ Guy Timberlake is an accomplished veteran of federal contracting with nearly 30 years of experience, knowledge and relationships acquired supporting civilian, defense and intelligence agency programs, starting with Operation Desert Shield. He’s called ‘Edutainer’ for his ability to make mundane discussions about business essential topics interesting (like finding and winning federal contracts and subcontracts!) and facilitates each learning opportunity based on his hands-on experience augmented by the wisdom of the many Government and Industry mavens who helped him grow. Shortly after launching The American Small Business Coalition in 2004, he earned the moniker ‘Chief Visionary’ as he plots the course for the organization, and for his ability to conceive viable approaches to growth for American small businesses in the public sector. Most important, Guy is a devoted husband, a proud father and loves homemade pizza night with his family and friends. ‘Go-To-Guy’ is the nickname given to him by several of his defense customers in the 1990’s who knew him, liked him and trusted him to get the job done.