Proposal Win Rate


In the government contracting space, businesses are obsessed with “win rate”. After the movie “War Dogs” and the main character played by Jonah Hill, “win rate” fever spread across the country. However, before chasing a higher win rate, what makes a “good win rate” in the first place? The win rate can vary dramatically if a business is responding to a new opportunity or bidding on a previously executed contract. Research of past performance has found that incumbent win rates however between 60-90% whereas the probability of winning new opportunities is around 15%. For a business, having an established relationship with the issuer of the RPF greatly increases the likelihood of winning.

Therefore, it depends on what makes a good win rate. Some businesses have an aggressive strategy that entails responding to as many RFPs as possible. This translates to a lower win rate of less than 20% because these companies respond blindly. Other companies only respond to an RFP when the issuer has directly invited them, and they are slated to win. These situations yield a higher win rate.

How to Increase Proposal Win Rates

Many businesses want to know the secret to achieve a higher pWin rate. The initial step is to determine a strategic approach to proposal then establish a realistic win rate goal. Industry practices have shown that one of the best ways to increase pWin rate is to nurture a connection with the customer before the issue of the RFP. Using a capture approach and hiring a capture manager can help a business establish a good client relationship before the RFP hits the market. This is also an opportunity to use another department such as marketing to develop a targeted marketing strategy that emphasizes trust and encourages interaction with the sales team.

Another way to increase pWin rate is to selectively respond to strong opportunities. This can be done by creating a matrix of the best opportunities for the company. This allows companies to focus their time and resources on the most viable opportunities that align with their brand and offerings.

The RFP process is competitive for the most desirable and high-value contracts. Therefore, companies that are positioned to win business spend a great deal of time studying the tactics and approaches of their competition. This enables companies to build a case in the proposal of being a “better fit” than their competition. Also, this helps companies to tailor their proposals more to the customer’s needs. Logically, tailored proposals win more and for most businesses, it is worth that extra effort to win the contract.


The proposal win rate is the defining factor of profitability for businesses that work with the government. While every business wants a higher “pWin rate” the reality is that businesses need to put in time and resources into increasing pWin. By building and maintaining relationships with issuers of RFP, tailoring the responses, and studying the tactics of the competition businesses can learn how to be more strategic and competitive.

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