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Attention Small Contractors: How to Entice a Large Contractor to Join Your Bid Team
| StreetShares Blog

By Steve Delahunty on November 8, 2017

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This post is a guest submission from Steve Delahunty, Chief Executive at 
Arcetyp LLC. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions, policies, or positions of StreetShares or any of its affiliates.

Have a great bid opportunity and want some big contractor guns to ensure the win?  This can be a challenge.  That big contractor you want to work with is established...  you are not.  They are well-known...  you are not.  But you know you can win if you can just get that big contractor onboard for that bid...  

You can guess the challenge here: large contractors are often wary of joining forces with small ones let alone even subcontracting to small ones that they do not know well.

So, not surprisingly, large contractors have a usual set of questions they want answered to their own leadership in order to engage a small contractor as a possible prime.

These requirements encompass elements such as the agreement's content, access and transparency to pricing, sign-off on the final proposal, and other areas.  You need to be ready to address these.  

How do you get ahead of the game?  Easy.  Just read the rest of the post.  Know the proactive measures you can take to handle the above areas and the general concerns over how risky you may be perceived as a small contractor prime.

Another way to look at it: these same measures will be eventually requested by the large contractor, anyway.  You might as well get ahead now with what large contractors look for from small primes.  Anticipating what large contractors want means being ready.

The Government Contractor's Handbook

Now, you do not necessarily want to volunteer all of the information before being asked.  But offering at least a subset of the below items can show trust and transparency and are usually of interest to the large contractor. For further advice about attracting large business teammates and teaming arrangements, Arcetyp LLC can assist.

Up-Front Questions for You, the Small Business Prime

Be ready to answer these important questions as you prepare to pitch or work with a large contractor.

  1. Why does your firm believe it can win the award?
  2. Does the large contractor already know your firm?  How?
  3. Does the large contractor know the senior staff at your firm?
  4. Have you worked with the large contractor before? If not, has the large contractor received references regarding your firm?
  5. If the contracting firms have not worked together before, the large one will want to obtain a D&B rating on you.  Do you already know what that will show?
  6. How well does your firm know the market in which you are both bidding and can the large contractor verify your level of knowledge?
  7. Has your firm shaped the procurement and can the large contractor verify that?
  8. Do you have the right past performance for the engagement?  Be ready with details of any qualifications.

Items or Actions That Will be Requested of You

Be ready to address these aspects for the agreement, pricing, reviews, etc.

Teaming Agreement

  • Provide the specifics for all of the information/requirements (pricing, reviews, etc.).
  • If this is an IDIQ or BPA, you need to specify that the large contractor will receive a copy of all issued task orders.


  • Ensure that the rates and total price are not too high while not too low.
  • Include the larger contractor in the Price to Win Session(s), to ensure the competitiveness of the bid.

Technical Reviews

  • Allow the larger contractor to review/comment on the proposal outline and they will especially review the government compliance instructions and evaluation criteria.  Specifically, all aspects of C, L & M: C= Statement of Work.  L=Instructions for Submission.  M= Evaluation Criteria.  
  • Include the larger contractor on all color teams ("color teams" refers to the iterations of all review teams for the proposal drafts).

Other Requirements

  • Ensure you inform the large contractor on any other firms included on the team.
  • Be ready to agree on the level of effort requested for proposal support.
  • Identify and agree on past performance to be utilized from the large firm since that may require their internal approval.
  • Help the large contractor understand what you need of them for proposal content, sections to author.
  • Agree on the schedule for inputs and proposal reviews to avoid last minute issues.
  • Regarding key personnel, allow the large contractor to have input on the candidates involved.

Got a contract on hand? Apply for contract financing now.

More about Steve Delahunty

Steve Delahunty is the Chief Executive at Arcetyp LLC.  He is a senior leader with 10 years of executive experience in technology and management consulting. Steve also has over 30 years in the information technology industry including a combination of commercial and federal sector consulting services expertise.

This content is for informational purposes only and may not contain all material information about government contracting. This information is not intended to be, nor should it be construed, used, or relied upon, as, financial, tax, legal, or procurement advice.

Topics: Funding Your Business, GovCon

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