Monday, February 11, 2013

How to Sell to the Federal Government



How to Sell to the Federal Government

For the past two years, I have been on the road coaching contractors and sales executives on how to sell to the government. During this time, I have fielded questions on numerous occasions as to why a small business needs a federal business development plan…and whether or not using a consultant is beneficial.
Well, in reality a federal business development plan does take a considerable amount of time to write, and it requires that you have a tremendous amount of data at your fingertips. Even so, federal business development plans that are one of the most effective tools for the business owner or sales executive who is starting or growing their business within the government marketplace.
Knowing your competition is half the battle.  The knowledge of knowing whom among your competitors is selling to government agencies is important—what prices are they demanding? What advantage can you offer? What agency is involved? What size companies are out there competing in your field?  Having answers to these questions will aid you in competing for government contracts and savvy contractors will plan and analyze the government market with online and (off-line) research to gain every competitive advantage.
In order to establish a presence in the government market, your company needs to have a structured approach using a deliberate and consistent process. Accomplishing this goal requires developing a plan that will outline the steps you need to take to get where they want to be in the future.   
If you combine Market Research along with Analytics to guide your efforts, you will greatly increase your chances of winning government contracts.
Selling to the Federal Government is an appealing market when the economy is in a down turn. However, not knowing the pitfalls can lead to a huge risk, major loses and even possible business closure. Securing a good consultant to navigate the path can be a very wise investment for the following reasons.
  1. Learning Curve. Working for the Federal Government as a contractor can be very challenging. The amount of information that a contractor must learn to be able to be successful is massive. The Federal Government has published rules, regulations, policies, and acronyms for everything. All of these have to be followed to the utmost detail and an inexperienced contractor could lose large amounts of time and money trying to come up to speed. A good consultant should be an expert in the field that you would hire for. Start working with a consultant prior to attempting to secure a contract. The consultant should be able to tweak things and explain what your contracting experience will be prior to engaging in the contract side of things.
  1. Relationship(s). A great majority of Federal Government employees are ex-military or ex-agency employees. These ex-military and ex-agency personnel are used to the structured environment and most like all the policies and rules because everything is black or white. By utilizing a consultant that already knows these employees or how that particular government agency or department works will save you the headache that you will ultimately have without them. A consultant can tell you what to do and not do and keep you from completely getting your contract pulled. If possible find a consultant that retired from the department or agency you are targeting. These consultants will bring you some of the biggest bang for the buck.
  1. Costly Mistakes. Utilizing a consultant can greatly reduce the chance of making procedural errors that will require timely corrections and re-submitting documentation. Having a compliance system in place will reduce or prevent fines and penalties in the event of an audit.  Also, a consultant who understands the nuances and complexities of Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) can provide advantages over companies that do not have a working knowledge or read the FARs.
  1. Support. The last but not least reason to hire a consultant is for flat out support. As the contractor embraces this new path, at times the overall frustration and lack of understanding can be quite the challenge. By the luxury of the consultant's support, the contractor can just plain and simple have somebody to talk to about what is going on and what to do next. It can be similar to having a guide out in the open wilderness because they are familiar with the terrain.
How to Pick the Right One
Choosing reliable and knowledgeable government contract consultants can be very tedious and time-consuming. But once you find the right persons to help you, everything's worth it. Here are some valuable pointers to consider in how to choose the right one:
  1. Dedication: Choose government contract consultants that are fully focused on what they do and use key performance indicators (KPI)s—a fancy way of saying goals that they have to achieve. They have to provide enough time for every situation you present them with.
  2. Education: Of course, extensive knowledge about federal procurement is a must for the government contract consultant that you select. How would they guide you if they lack the necessary information?
  3. Critical thinking: The consultant that you hire should be good at tactically solving problems that you may encounter from proposals to the project's end.
  4. Keeping Current: The person should be constantly updated on the latest trends in the procurement business. Procurement is a dynamic field. They should be very good at keeping current.
  5. Honest: The professional you select should be honest yet polite in letting you know of what your real performance in federal procurement is. They are not your best friends. You need that kind of stable professional relationship that keeps you on your feet so that any errors can be corrected immediately.
Lastly, companies should realize that there is nothing fast about the government contracting market. On average, it takes 18 to 36 months for a business to lay a foundation in the government market. Hiring your own consultant is a reflection of your commitment, and shows you are ready to experience a different level of success. To speak with an experienced professional who can assist you in supporting these goals call 201-850-3782 or email sean@seaninc.biz or support@fedradar.com.

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