With a little planning and discipline, you can get your Q4 game plan set, and start cashing in on more year-end opportunities. This is a three-part series – I hope you caught all three!
#7: Refresh and Maximize Your Online Presence
Review and ensure that your published information is up to date in:
- Federal government (GSAAdvantage, SAM, and Dynamic Small Business Search)
- State government vendor sites
- Small & minority certifications (federal, state, local, and commercial supplier diversity)
- Prime contractor portals
- Social media (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook)
- Industry association member profiles
Refresh your corporate web content weekly (blog posts, news, events, offers, case studies, white papers, resources, etc.)
- Consider hosting informational webinars about new industry developments and techniques for saving time and money; require participants to provide just name and email address and invite them to join your list for future newsletters.
- Make sure your blog has a RSS feed
- Link your blog updates to your social media platforms
- Seek guest blog opportunities with complementary vendors in your market.
#8: Leverage Customer Feedback & Testimonials
Is customer feedback part of your business operations? If not already, it should be. Your customers’ views always give you competitive insight! If you're not talking to them…your competitors are!
Start setting up five-minute “check-in” phone calls with your top customers now. Whether you do that by phone or by email, explain that you’re doing some research into how to better serve organizations like theirs, and let them know in advance what you want to ask.
For both federal agencies and prime contractors, ask about their policy on attribution, and confirm that you won’t publish anything without their permission. Explore whether, if direct attribution isn’t possible, they would be willing to be cited generically, as, for example, “Major prime contractor” or “Federal security agency”
Not sure what to ask? Here are some easy options:
First, tell them how much you appreciate their business and the opportunity to serve them. Then you can ask:
- When you bought from / engaged our company, what problem were you trying to solve?
- What did we do for you?
- What happened as a result: how did your organization benefit?
- How were you able to measure that?
- If someone called you and asked you about your experience in working with us, what would you say?
Many federal customers and publicly-traded companies often cannot offer testimonial. What can you do? Consider which of your commercial customers are most similar to the federal agencies or partners you’d like to attract. Approach them to ask whether they would record a 30- to 60- second video about their experience in working with you. They can post it privately on YouTube and send you the link. You can use as-is, or edit and add chyron.
#9: Expand Thought Leadership
Leverage examples of your company’s thought leaders.
- Share highlights of their presentations on your website.
- Publish excerpt or entire versions of their presentations on social media: to: Your company’s LinkedIn profile; the speaker’s LinkedIn Profile; Slideshare.com
- Tag the presentations with keywords your audience uses to search for expertise in your industry
- Publish short case studies that feature measurable results from your best clients and share them with your customers saying, “Did you see this? I thought of you while we worked on this project. It may be something you may want to consider.:
- Commission and /or identify and share survey findings and rankings about leading edge developments in your industry
- Write and/or find and share white papers and best practices related to your customer's top challenges
#10: Be Ready To Sell The Way They Want To Buy
Do you know the top three contract vehicles that your target agencies use to buy products and services like yours? If you don’t know the answer – from the data, not just from asking your buyers – you need to know that first. Can those buyers reach YOU through all those vehicles?
Then, you can approach your buyer saying something like, “I see from the data that your agency does a lot of purchasing through NASA SEWP, VETS and GSA Schedule 70. But how do you like to buy when you’re ready?” When you have the full picture, then you can decide where you need teaming partners and where it makes sense to prime.
Make the most of MicroPurchase!
Fiscal year end can be a time when the final use-or-lose dollars get emptied out of budgets. What can you do for less than $3,000? A small purchase? A training class? A study? An assessment? A webinar?
Your hot prospect buyer just might be willing and able to do a micro-purchase from you if you’ve been developing that relationship and staying in touch right down to the wire. You get more than $3,000 in your bank account. You also get…Past Performance. Which opens doors to more.
Understand Simplified Acquisition
The rules for purchases worth less than $150,000 can be much simpler than for bigger purchases. Did you know? Your federal buyer could ask you and two of your competitors for a price quote over the phone, and make a purchase based on that. These simplified procedures opened the doors for over 750,000 contract actions and a total of over $16 billion in FY2011. Get the details. Your contracting officer doesn’t want to read your proposals any more than you want to write them. How could they use a Blanket Purchase Agreement, or some other Simplified Acquisition Procedure instead? Find out – at FAR Part 13.
Then get a meeting with your contracting officer to discuss whether this is an option for the two of you to do business.
Got a GSA Schedule? Promote It!
- If you’re a GSA Schedule holder, use GSA’s Advantage Spend Analysis Program (ASAP) to run Product Rank Reports and see your competition’s top 100 selling products. Can you contact the manufacturer and add those items to your schedule before year-end buying is over?
- Make sure your pricing information on GSAAdvantage is up to date!
- Look at the pricing of your closest competitors. Is it time to make an adjustment to yours?
- Make sure you’ve reviewed the Price Reduction Clause rules – and then consider creating and promoting year-end offers to government customers through telemarketing or emails.
- Reach out to your current customers and prospects and make sure they know you’re on GSA Schedule (and remind them of all the other vehicles they can use to buy from you).