Government and Marketing, PR & Advertising

Government sales for newbies

May 18, 2015
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Government audiences represent a lucrative potential sales target.

Companies new to government sales can quickly move through a rollercoaster of feelings — what we refer to as the phases of new government sales.

Phase 1: Excitement! We will certainly bring in a kazillion dollars in revenue through this new initiative!

Phase 2: Confusion. Jeesh. Where do I start? Local? State? Federal? Which agencies? Do I need certification? Do I need to do headstands?

Phase 3: Intimidation. There are tens of thousands of federal contracting officers. What is a SAM? Who do I call? Where do I start?

Phase 4: Fear. The solicitation I want to bid on is 153 pages. And what is a technical response? What is a CPARS? Can I use commercial sector references?

Phase 5: Anger. What do you mean my bid response was deemed technically unacceptable? We can do the work! I spent 50 hours on that bid response! Why didn’t I win?

Phase 6: Resignation. I give up. I’ll never get revenue from government sales.

Government is a great customer for many reasons — and public sector agencies lead to a diversified, consistent revenue stream for established companies that have a plan.

  • They pay promptly.
  • They buy trillions of dollars of goods and services.
  • They buy everything from saplings to buildings, from technology to welding equipment.
  • They always buy.
  • They have multiple access points: local, regional, state and federal.
  • They buy from diverse companies of all sizes.

The why decision

The most successful new entrants into the government space share common attributes:

  • They are established companies with consistently increasing revenues in other sectors.
  • They have a product or service government buys in sufficient quantities to warrant the effort.
  • They have the internal resources to make government sales a full-time commitment.
  • They have a solid marketing plan and an understanding of their true differentiators.
  • They are measurement-driven, with a sales culture and a willingness to assess performance.
  • In many cases, they have business classifications of interest to government buyers.

This isn’t entirely a pep talk. Government contracting can be complicated, confusing and complex. The information barriers encountered when marketing to government are enormous. The process of wading through government red tape, voluminous solicitations and requests for information is time consuming. The multiple access points in government procurement require someone well versed in communicating with bureaucratic decision makers.

Government bid responses often require a translator, and writing them to a government audience is difficult to master. There are many access points for opportunities, but these frequently require effective research resources. Time and effort are money, and government marketing and sales require both.

Companies that try and fail also share common attributes:

  • They are impatient or they were counting on quick contract wins in order to stay afloat.
  • They are not ready to make a full-time commitment to this new audience.
  • They are not willing to invest in dedicated experts, writers, search engines and technology.
  • They whine.
  • They have no sales or performance goals.

Government sales can be exciting, confusing, intimidating, frightening and frustrating — all at the same time! But with the right plan and the right infrastructure, it can also be lucrative.

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