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Tips for Hiring a Federal Business Development Consultant

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Once the new fiscal year starts, there’s a lull in high-volume spending from the federal government. This is a great time for federal contractors to take stock, see what went well and what didn’t. 

Want your federal business to grow in FY2015? Consider whether the time and resources are right to add a dedicated, experienced, federal business development professional to your team. 

This is such an important hiring decision, and represents a major investment! What should you ask to get it right?

First, decide what you want to achieve, and be ready to share that with your candidates.

Do you already know which federal agencies you’ll target? Or do you expect your new hire to figure that out? 

Expanding federal business takes more than just hiring someone to do the job. That person will need to participate in conferences, associations and professional development, travel to events, develop or revise marketing collateral, make sales calls, and need a laptop and access to your company’s corporate business systems. How much have you budgeted for resources to support his or her efforts?

How would your new team member collaborate with those who deliver your product or service, write proposals, set pricing, and gather competitive intelligence?

What federal business goals do you want to achieve, over what period of time, and what contribution do you expect your business development person to make to that effort? This clarity is not only vital for you before making such an important investment, it also helps choose the right candidate can say how they’ve helped another business achieve similar goals.

You’ll want to set some basic search criteria, whether you’re conducting your own search or engaging a staffing firm to find talent for you.

For starters, you’ll want your candidates to have experience in federal sales for companies in your industry, and a track record of sales success in your target agency or agencies.

What size companies have they worked with in the past, and what size were the contracts they won? On one hand, if they bring the experience of winning huge contracts for a large company, their expertise could be great for a small- to medium-sized business company looking to grow. But will that development person want to work in a small- to medium-sized company for the long haul? Some people love the challenge of helping a small company grow; others really only thrive with the resources of a large prime to support their efforts.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” declared Peter Drucker. What key characteristics of your company’s values and culture must your new hire embrace? Based on your own experience, looking back, what signs tell you that someone really fits in with your team…or doesn’t?

What kind of work environment and resources, including other team members, do they need to achieve that level of results? How does that match what you can offer?  How often do you need your business developer to be in the office with other team members? Are you and your team comfortable collaborating with and managing someone who may spend extensive time in the field, traveling, working remotely and meeting by phone? 

When you’ve narrowed down your prospective hires to a promising candidate, consider setting a scenario based on your company’s bid and proposal process for a contract that you won. Ask your candidate about the kind of role she might play and responsibilities she would expect to carry on the road to success.

The search for the right federal business development professional can take time. So  the sooner you consider these questions, the more time you’ll have to get your new hire geared up for when agencies start to move into spending mode again! 

If you need assistance with the process of hiring a federal business development consultant, Summit Insight has allied with Erin Allen, President of ConTemporaries, to bring you these tips and to help serve our clients who need this very valuable person on their team. You can contact Judy Bradt or Erin Allen for more information about how we can help.

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 7:37am

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