Another Federal Q4 tip: They know you, they like you...why not call them?
People often call me at this time of year eager and anxious to scoop up what they know must be year-end funds sitting around waiting to be spent on a worthy small business like theirs. Trouble is, they're looking in the wrong place: hunting for strangers who who don't exist.
Federal buyers do not wake up in the morning thinking, "I need to give some contracts to a small business today." (Remember: your small business specialist is NOT a buyer.) They DO wake up haunted by problems they need to solve, looking for the low-risk, affordable vendor they can trust...who is probably someone they already know.
Your best prospects, especially in the frenzied fiscal year-end, are people who already know you. Your second-best prospects are the people these folks can introduce you to. What can you do about that?
First, the easy call: When did you last check in with your best clients, partners, current and past contacts? Get past the "embarrassment" and just call them. Chances are they've not only been busy, too, but they might have been meaning to call YOU!
Next, get back in touch with one-time and former government clients to let them know you’re here for them – even if they’re not buying right now.
In both cases, let them know what's new with you. For instance, three of my clients just got awarded their GSA Schedules. I asked them, "Are you putting out an announcement about that?" They were delighted to realize that this is a perfect -- and practical -- reason to share news, especially at this time of year.
After that, call on marginal accounts – ones you’ve never quite been able to close a deal with. Maybe this is the right time! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Finally, be brave: Call on the people who said “no” last time! That was then, this is now. Persistence counts, Just because you lost once doesn't mean they wouldn't like to hear from you again...especially if that was just your first bid to that office or agency
Focus on the relationship. While you want the sale, they might not be ready to say yes, or might be looking at next year. Fine! You're in this for the long haul. Show that. Spend time building the relationship even if they’re nowhere near ready to buy. This time next year, business is going to be won by the people who persevered.
Don’t know what to say? Here are some easy ideas.
- What insight do you have on best practices in the private sector that could help them with their career? Be the person who’s looking out for them. Offer something useful -- an article, a link – that they might like to keep on hand or share.
- If you’re not the incumbent, ask how things are going with their current vendor. What do they like best about them? What does this vendor not provide that they wish they could get? And…what do the other guys do that they really don’t like?
- Ask past & current clients if they plan to reorder from you this fiscal year. If yes, or possibly, ask when is the best time to get back in touch, and when is this agency’s annual ordering cutoff for different contract vehicles during their end-of-year spending? Over 65% of federal buyers are never called on by ANYONE. The business goes to the ones who ASK.
- BE HELPFUL even when it doesn’t lead to a sale today. Are they regularly buying from someone else? You can still say: “Hey, I know sometimes you just need a fast “file-filler” quote to get three bids. You can always call me and I’ll help you out.”
What are you waiting for? Start calling. And start winning.
Judy Bradt helps business owners get in front of federal buyers. Her clients increase their win rates and revenue, while lowering their cost of sales and marketing. Find out how they do it. Give her a call at (703) 627 1074, or email Judy.Bradt@SummitInsight.com.