Success in federal contracting (like all business) involves building relationships. Federal contracting officers are most comfortable awarding contracts to businesses with proven track records and that have solved problems similar to their own. You may be thinking, “Hey, I can solve problems but how do I find the contracting officers to present my solutions to?”
Ask for Referrals from Your Best Customers
Here's the simplest, most powerful, and least costly way to win a new client: ask for a referral from a current one. Why don't more people do that? First, we're not sure whom to call.
Second – and this is the harder part – we get embarrassed about how to ask for what we want.
Here's how to solve both problems.
Who to call? Use these tips to pinpoint your champions.
Who are your sweet spot clients today? Here's how to tell: they pay you on time, they come back for more services and advice and they send their friends. You're on their speed dial – because they like to call you just to say hi.
- Filter your sweet spot clients by who you've been in touch with most recently.
- Once you've got that list, sort it
- who represents past performance that reflects the service/product mix most like what you want to win more of?
- who's in your top priority agencies
- who's got strong cooperative relationships in your priority agencies?
How to ask for a referral?
"Our company is growing – thanks in part to our work together. We really appreciate your business. We're also ready for new opportunities, and I'd like your advice."
You're not even asking them for an introduction. So far, so good. Easy. Most people like being asked for advice. Next, consider one or more of these questions:
"Who do you know who would value the kind of great client experience with the services/products we've provided to you?
"Who do you know in _______ department within your agency?
"Who do you know in (another one of your target agencies) who might need similar services?"
If your relationship with them is strong, they'll probably offer to introduce you. If not, then the final set of questions can include:
"Would you share their contact information with me?"
"May I say that you suggested we get in touch?"
"Would you be willing to make an email introduction?"
Oh, and be sure to send your champions a thank you note for opening the door. Handwritten and mailed, even better than email.
Simple. Powerful. Go for it. Tell us what happens!