Large and small companies may differ in many ways, but when it comes to business development they have a lot in common. Whether a firm has 10 employees or 10,000, it must make sure that the program managers and contracting officers know, like, respect and trust them. One of the few ways to achieve this is by researching the agencies well and building relationships with the people who work in them.
William Hamilton, vice president of business development, strategic planning, proposal management and support, Advantage Consulting Incorporated, offers this advice to small companies that want to do business with government organizations. One challenge that technology firms face is that their employees have not developed the skills they need to connect in the human network as well as they have developed their knowledge of bits, bytes, software and hardware. But when small firms plan to improve their business development—not sales—savvy, it’s time to let go of the mouse and shake hands instead. “The line from Field of Dreams, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ doesn’t work,” Hamilton states.
“Government agencies know the companies can do the job, but in business development, they want to know, ‘How well do I know these people?’” Hamilton says. “They want to know, ‘Do I know them? Do I like them? Do I respect them? Do I trust them?’”