A new Federal buying year is underway. Are you ready?
Here's five steps to get your new Fiscal year headed in the right direction.
Start by celebrating the wins!
My upbringing was filled with overtones of, "Don't enjoy it too much," and "Okay, that's done. What's next?" Did you know that celebration gives us strength? There's a word for that: "foreboding joy." The federal sales game is tough. Research shows that when we deliberately celebrate success, we bank resilience to handle the inevitable tough experiences that are also part of business and life.
Ask for debriefings TODAY — for wins as well as losses.
Debriefings aren't just for protesters! Regardless, the clock is ticking: if you ask within three days of contract award, FARS 15.506 (a)(1) says "An Offeror...shall be debriefed and furnished the basis for the selection decision and contract award." After that point, your CO can decide whether or not she wants to give you one. Review the FARS Subpart 15.506 for what your CO is allowed to tell you. Even if you won, nobody's perfect. Did you win by a landslide, or on a technicality? You need to know whether you the one they wanted or the one they feel stuck with? The winner who asks, "What could we have done better?" shows humility and intent to listen right from the start. What a great way to start a project!
Considering protest? Get good advice.
I hope you don't have concerns that could be cause for formal protest. You have many options to resolve difficulties. Protest might not bring you the outcome you want, in more ways than one. Read the FARS about timing and procedures for process. Talk through your options with both your federal business advisor as well as a lawyer who has tons of experience with federal contracting before you decide what to do. Data shows that the majority of successful protesters do not win the subsequent re-competition.
Create non-judgmental space to gather lessons learned.
As smart, savvy, people, your team invests a lot of ourselves in the federal sales game. When you lose an important opportunity, the loss can trigger deep feelings. If you just brush off the disappointment and move on, you're losing on two levels. First: you lose valuable return on resources invested in the proposal. Your hidden ROI is the lessons learned. If you can gather your team distill what went right as well as what you'd do differently, you can reinvest those lessons in the new year just begun. Second, and more insidious: when you don't talk through the losses, team members can feel deep, unspoken shame, often based on misunderstanding or mis-perception of what actually happened. That can lead, in turn, to alienation and estranged relationships among people who need to support each other.
Most companies I talk to SAY that, "Oh, we never blame. We always do a neutral debriefing." In truth, that's not always easy to do if it's not your full-time profession. When you care for your team by hosting dialog at a deeper level, that pays big dividends. Get a facilitator if need be and invest in a day to debrief your year. Clarify understandings and strengthen relationships among people who need to support each other.
Set your FY17 focus for CONTACTS, not just contracts.
Last year, you swore you'd get ahead of the game, get in there before the RFP hit the street. How did you do? This year, move even further upstream. Do your research and up your federal sales game to focus on building new relationships, to get inside the heads -- and the offices -- of federal buyers who need to know you, long before they draft the next RFP or task order. They're already doing business with someone else. Learn what do to, what to say, what to ask, at each of the four levels, in every office, agency, and potential partner company.
Now, get calling!
I'm Judy Bradt, CEO of Summit Insight. My team creates federal sales plans action-packed with the leads and tactics you need to grow your federal business. Let's talk today. Email or call me at (703) 627-1074 today.