Sometimes the data speak volumes. I recently had that experience when reviewing the new survey of government contracting firms released by Deltek. The survey, called Clarity 09, is a great resource for anyone who sells professional services to the federal government (and you can download it for free).

Here is the first nugget that caught my attention: How should you approach proposal writing if you want to maximize growth? Be selective (the so called “write fewer and win more” strategy)? Or should you maximize proposals to maximize wins? How about a compromise and be moderately selective?

The survey broke the volume of proposals written per year into four categories 0-24, 25-49, 50-99, and 100+. They then looked at the number of proposals written as a function of growth rate.

What they learned was that as the rate of firm growth increased, the middle categories began to disappear. By the time you get to the highest growth companies (50% or more per year) the only two categories left are the companies who do under 25 proposals a year or over 100. Laser focus vs. carpet bombing (please excuse the military metaphor, it seems so perfect). They both work, but which is most effective? As it turns out, 80% of the high-growth firms use a targeted strategy. Interestingly, this finding fits nicely with our observation that high-growth firms tend to be more focused in their marketing. Thank you, Deltek.