The five most common situations that companies face, and what they most want, when they want to grow their Federal business are:
- Strong commercial market presence, but little or no federal footprint. “We want a surgical, cost-effective market entry with fast ROI.”
- Initial win in a single agency. “We want to build our book of business with our current client, to give us credibility to grow.”
- Activity in multiple agencies. “We need to know the best place, and the right vehicles, to focus to expand our federal business.”
- GSA Schedule (or other vehicles) at risk for low sales. “We need to drive sales to keep our contract…or know if it’s worth the effort at all.”
- Transition out of 8(a) and/or into Mid-Tier. “We’re about to lose our small business status. How can we survive and thrive?”
Which one sounds like you, as you look ahead to FY2018?
You're not alone.
In these situations, successful companies all do three things. HERE THEY ARE:
- Nail the competitive analysis: get the hard data that shows you two things: which federal buyers spend the most money on what you do and how; and the competitors they like best, whom you’ll displace or partner.
- Build relationships before requirements: get in front of buyers and prospective partners before competition, by knowing the needs, language and tactics to reach the players at every layer, and persist politely and relentlessly.
- Create a structured federal sales plan: use a systematic approach based on your competitive analysis to stay focused on where the business is, and avoid expensive distractions and loser bids.
It's that simple. So, what's stopping you?
Here are the most common obstacles that business owners tell me get in the way, and what you can do about each.
"I can't afford (Big Expensive Data Dashboard Service)." Data services tell you what everybody else already knows. To get ahead of that, you need to tap the intelligence that shows you the decision-makers at all the levels, so you can meet them before requirements are issued and shape the statement of work. Past contract data -- which is free, online, right this minute -- is where you find those contacts.
"I can't get in to see the Contracting Officers. Nobody answers my emails." How often do YOU buy something from a stranger who spammed you? Stop hiding behind your screen. Do some research and then pick up the phone. Call the people who you know you can help. Leave messages, call back. Ask them about the things your research shows THEY might care about. Be relentless, courageous, and vulnerable. Yeah, maybe somebody won't want to talk to you. Happens to me EVERY DAY. Move on, there are more people who need you.
"I don't do cold calls..." (...because they're horrible) I know how you feel! But think about it: are your only conversations with people you already know? Of course not. Think back to high school, in the days before social media. What did you do when there was someone you really wanted to meet, to talk to, to impress, to have a relationship with? You learned everything you could about them first. You followed them. You talked to their friends. You spent time in places they hung out. You found someone who could maybe introduce you... Do some old-fashioned wooing. By the time you make that call, you'll have lots to talk about. And you'll have invested enough time that you'll be determined to connect.
"Proposal costs are killing us." Stop writing novels for strangers. Bid less, bid smarter, and you'll win more. Commit to only writing winning proposals, for people who know you. (Want to increase your win rate? Let's talk. There are ten things you can do, and I'll tell you what those are.)
What else is standing between you and the Federal success you want in FY18? Post your question here. Let's get you some answers!