Capability Statement

This is a professional specification sheet that your organization presents as the first contact for most interactions with federal, state, and local government procurement purchasers. This sheet contains vital information at a one shot glance that is efficient, informative, and attractive and differentiates your organization in verbiage, product/services and visualization from your competitors. It contains your DUNS #, CAGE code, NAICS codes and past performances to show timeliness, quality, and positive delivery of products and/or services. The Capability Statement in other words is your Government Business Resume.

Government contracting has developed into a very competitive marketplace. Companies of all sizes, from small firms with one employee to large firms with thousands of employees, have been successful in selling products and services to government agencies at the federal, state, city, county and municipal levels. However, competition has heightened as more companies try to break into, be competitive in, and stay successful in this market.

A complicating factor to success in this market is that fewer people are employed by the government to handle outreach and acquisitions. This means that contractors must know how to distill the information that is most important to a particular decision-maker, state it in a clear, concise manner, and reinforce its importance to the prospect, now even more so than in the past.

Five years ago, no one knew what a Capability Statement was, and now, it is required by all government agencies and has developed into a mandatory tool that, if well done, can also help you open doors and target new opportunities, no matter what size company you represent.

How to Create a Powerful Capability Statement for Government Contractors

Successful firms use a Capability Statement for a number of purposes:

  • Required in many government registration processes
  • A door-opener to new agencies and prime contractors
  • Proof of qualification
  • Proof of past performance
  • To set your company apart from competitors

Types of Capability Statements

There are essentially three types of Capability Statements.

  1. The first is a one page document (can be two sides) that is used to open doors and make introductions with targeted agencies, primes and teaming partners.
  2. The second is a capability statement that is part of a Request for Proposal response.
  3. The third is the document used during a meeting called a Capability Briefing.

Capability Statement Format

A Capability Statement should be very brief (only 1 or 2 pages), to the point and specifically related to the individual agency's needs. Ideally, it is a living document that will change depending on the targeted agency. Why is this? Because savvy contractors know that each agency has its own mission and focus, and they speak directly to those in their capability statement. It is important that the document be visually interesting and has similar graphic elements to your company's brand and logo. It must also be a searchable document that can easily be sent as a PDF file.

Therefore, it is recommended that Capability Statements are created in Word or Publisher using a template that reflects a firm's brand with its own logo, colors and graphic identity. It is important to fit all critical information on one side of one page. The second side, if absolutely necessary, may contain additional supporting data important to the targeted agency such as case studies of past successful projects.

Capability Statement Contents

The five key elements included in a successful capability statement are:

  1. Core competencies
  2. Past performance
  3. Differentiators
  4. Corporate data
  5. Contact information

The 5 Step Guide to Talking to Government Purchasers

In the following 5 Step Guide you will find everything you need to know to begin dialogues between you and government purchasers. The information below is a tested method that has proven to produce the best results. Please read this carefully as it will become the way you break into the Government Market.

Step 1:

Getting Your Capability Statement Together - Your capability Statement will be your basic information sheet you will be presenting to Contracting Officers (to be referred to as CO going forward) and Purchasing Agents. It is to be a quick and brief but detailed look at your company and your achievements. The CO and Purchasing Agent are hard-pressed for time and should be treated as such. When engaging CO’s and Purchasing Agents, you need to get the pertinent information fast and to the point, but you must also be careful not to be vague. This document should be only one to two pages maximum and it should include a snapshot look at your company. It should list the following:

  1. Who you are and what you do should be a short description.
  2. List your “crowning achievements” including all the major jobs or sales your company has done in the past. This will show the CO or Purchasing Agent the capabilities of your company.
  3. The most important part of the capability Statement is going to be your references to your past performances. If possible use other government references. Use federal references first, followed by state and then local. Next, list your larger company references, which will provide the same level of assurances as the previous references. Next, use your smaller job references to show that your company is diverse. Finally, list your vendor and any other business references, which are also important and lend credence to your financial stability. Keep in mind that all companies may not be able to provide all of the above mentioned references, and that is OK.

You want to prepare this document to show your company in its best light. If you are a larger company, do not list everything your company has done. Keep it to your most recent and best achievements. Make sure that all references given show the work you can perform and highlight your best skills. Also, if you are going to list a particular person or company and give their contact information, make sure that you reach out to them and let them know. Your references will most likely be contacted and you do not want them to stumble or have to wait to recall you and your services. List direct numbers and email for your references to ensure they are contacted directly. The CO or Purchasing Agent will also be referencing the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (http://www.ppirs.gov) to check out your references, so get familiar with this system and keep tabs on your company. You are only able to view your own information and can only do so by using your MPIN. If you do not know what your MPIN number is, you can find it by going to your SAM registration on the Complete Registrations tab. Then go to Business Information and you will be able to find your MPIN number there. You can then use it on the log-in site on the above mentioned website.

Step 2:

{Getting Your Line Card Together} By now we are all aware of what a NAICS code is, but just in case, it stands for North American Industry Classification System (pronounced ‘nākes’ with a long ‘a’). These are the numbers that classify your products or services. Some companies will have one or two NAICS codes and some of you will have pages. If you are a company that has pages, please make sure they are in order; disorder does not look good. This is a fast reference page for what you do. If possible, please have them arranged by the correct PSC codes as well. Please ensure you have everything covered.

Step 3:

Certifications - List all of your certifications on your digital signature of your email starting with your GSA contract number. Remember, you are selling yourself and your company not the fact that you are part of a particular group. If you start off with the fact that you have a particular socio-economic status, you will lose their interest quickly. Simply change your digital signature and business cards to have your certifications listed clearly on them. If you are a veteran, you can bring it up in casual conversation but do not use it as a sales pitch. Remember you are selling yourself and your company not the fact you belong to a particular group.

Step 4:

Product/Service Information Sheet - This is the easy part. Compile a detailed listing of the products and services that you offer. If you offer services list a brief description of each. List the highlights and move on. If you have products this would be a good time to insert a catalog or listing of your products and it is best for it to be in color and have particular part numbers. You do not have to list everything just the main items you’re going to sell. Please make sure that all of the above documents are prepared in the most professional way possible. These documents will be the first items that the CO or Purchasing Agent will see of your company, and you want it to be memorable.

Step 5:

Emailing and Talking to CO’s and Government Purchaser's –

  1. Know your material.
  2. Be prepared to do the hard sell. You are going to be asked, "Why should I use your company?" Be prepared to offer your competitive edge. Write it down and rehearse it with someone before you make the call, and make sure you are able to answer the question quickly and to the point.
  3. Know your references. You will most likely be asked about your past references on your capability statement. Make sure that all of your answers roll off your tongue. The most important thing to convey is that you are knowledgeable about your industry and company and can give them the best possible results.
  4. Make sure that all of your online material is up to date and correct. This speaks for itself, but you want to ensure that all online material has the correct contact person, phone numbers and extensions. This is one of the largest errors on the vendor’s part.