Looking for the low-hanging fruit in federal contracting? People who know you are your best prospects, even if they’ve never done business with you before. You just need to catch them before they come into full bloom for everyone else to see.
Here are the “Five R’s:” things you can be doing right now to line up business for easy picking in the fourth quarter.
One of my clients, a media production company in California, just discovered half a dozen opportunities simply by picking up the phone to chat with people they love to work with. Get back in touch with your best clients. You know the ones: they pay you on time, come back for more, and send their friends. Check in at your next review meeting, or ask for a feedback session on your last project. "How are things going?" "What's going on with you all?" "What do you need?" "How can I help? If I don't have the answer, I'll find someone who does."
Then, cherry-pick your team’s field intelligence. Bring together the leaders of your teams who are normally on-site in the agency for a half day with you. I led a session like this for my client, Reza Mahbod and his team at RMA Associates. In a couple of hours, they identified over $12 million of new opportunities that they were right in front of them, ready to grasp and bring home. Just be deepening relationships with their current clients, this multimillion-dollar company doubled its revenue in a year.
- Related: RMA Federal’s steps to success
Your clients want you to succeed. They just don’t wake up in the morning thinking about sending you referral business. Most of them would love to introduce you, their wonderful vendor, to their friends. All you have to do is ask. Why don’t we do that more often? Because it feels awkward. Now, make it super easy. Here’s what to say, in two parts. First: “Our business is growing and we’re looking for new projects…” Oh, great news! Who wouldn’t want to talk to you? Then keep going. “…Who do you know who would like the kind of experience we’ve had working together?”
Get back in touch with people you haven’t talked to in a while. Do you find follow-up calls tough? Feel uncomfortable because you know you should have called sooner? I know I do. You’re not alone. Odds are good that our own brains are getting in the way!
- RELATED: Ten Reasons Not To Trust Your Brain
Ever notice yourself guessing why you’re not hearing from someone? Stop. If that prospect doesn’t call you back, message after message, you can only know one thing for certain: that they didn’t call you back. You can’t know why until you actually talk to them again. Our brains make up fake stuff that can get in the way. Seriously! The brain is hungry for the neurochemical happy-hit of being fed an answer…even if the answer is completely wrong.
I had that experience with Dave the other day. I’d been calling and emailing, on and off, for about a year. He’d been a client five years ago. We did good work together in a challenging market. It had been getting hard to leave messages. I’d started to wonder if I had failed them in some way, or they just didn’t like me. When I finally reached him, he said, “Hey, I’m glad to hear from you. I’ve been getting your messages, and I’m glad you called…” He was ready for a proposal now.
What about the people who said no to you last time? Why would you call them? Why not! You have nothing to lose. The best thing is that this isn’t a cold call. If you have already made a proposal there, they may know a lot about you now. What’s the worst thing that could happen? They’d say no again. You already know what that felt like, so no big deal. Maybe they didn’t choose you but liked you. Maybe they wanted to work with you and couldn’t. Maybe they still can’t, but would love to…and would be super-happy to suggest someone else you can talk to. Maybe you wrote a loser bid, last time, but there’s something coming up that you’d be perfect for, and it’s not on the street yet. Follow up on that deal you lost a while ago. How did the winner do? Maybe they don’t plan to exercise the award option, and are looking to go out to recompete earlier than the forecast is showing! Maybe some other things have happened and they could have used you.
What’s working? Do more of that! You won’t find my client, Jessica Harding of Broda Seating, in the office anymore. Why? Because she grew her federal business 47% last year. Here’s how she did it: This time last year, she took a close look at where she was already successful – Veterans Affairs. She and I discovered data that showed which contacts in which positions were her best buyers. Then she used our Federal Sales Action Plan to map methodical marketing, region by region, to all the others she had missed. It worked, and fast. In a few weeks, she uncovered a hundred new leads and fifty direct opportunities, and was on track for what turned into her best year ever. That success drove enough new revenue for the company to hire an inside sales rep and for Jessica hit the road.
- RELATED: Read the Broda Story
Judy Bradt gives federal teams the analysis, custom plans and support you need to grow your federal business. Call her at (703) 627 1074, and visit www.SummitInsight.com. Ask for your Decision-Maker scholarship for “Lightning Launch” and get the super discounts through 3/31 for “Building Blocks of A Winning Proposal.”