When entering the government market for the first time, sales people are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of number of agencies, targets, and opportunities to consider. Unfortunately, most newbies tasked with developing government business, start throwing darts at everything that comes across the desk – to see what sticks. Having worked with and coached nearly 2000 companies over the past 15 years, I can tell you that this is the absolute wrong approach to building a successful government practice!
When you take time to break down the government marketplace, you begin to realize that successful companies first cut into the government marketplace with a scalpel, not a sword. Yes, you have to start by taking a holistic view of the marketplace, however, you have to quickly pivot from “boiling the ocean” to focusing on no more than 3-4 specific targets to start. Sound familiar? The government marketplace deserves no less attention or careful planning than any of the other markets within your company competes.
For most organizations, starting with a single agency and building out a targeted sales and marketing plan is recommended. With a laser focus, you should begin to dissect the target agency’s procurement forecast and strategic plans. These are released at the beginning of the government’s fiscal year: broken down by quarter and give great insight in to upcoming initiatives to pursue. This is often the key ingredient to successful government contractors’ sales and marketing plans. This single activity can give a savvy contractor the ability to identify or develop new opportunities far before they “hit the street” and are viewed by their competitors.
Know Your Audience
How it’s really done! Savvy contractors know that they must tailor their company’s value propositions and messaging to show that they can meet the mission requirements, and objectives laid out by the target agency’s strategic plan. In other words, to gain the attention of a target agency and give them the warm-and-fuzzies about your products and/ or services, you have to show them you speak their language and understand their unique challenges and motivations. (We will discuss procurement motivations in a future Blog).
Exhibit 53 and 300s
If you are in the Information Technology Space, it’s your lucky day. You can really craft a targeted sales and marketing plan and tie it to specific budgets laid out by your targets. IT companies are able to leverage agency developed Exhibit 53 and 300s. These reports are detail funding/ budget request along with major IT initiatives. Exhibit 300A’s are a comprehensive explanation of major “IT Investments”. Exhibit 300B’s are for the management and the execution of those investments through their life cycle and into production.
In conclusion, it sounds like a lot of work because it is a lot of work! However, if you are going to enter the government marketplace, you have to do your homework. Studying the marketplace upfront and developing a well thought-out plan to execute will undoubtedly save you thousands of hours and potentially millions of wasted dollars as you spin your wheels.Like