Selling into the IC and the Defense agencies is not easy. Here is part three that will convince you to “up your game” when it comes to tools—in this case, procurement databases and news services, that help you stay on top of events and sales leads.
You may have noticed that I won’t say which one is the best because I believe this has to do with one’s needs and preferences. The best for my situation may not be the best for you.
GovWin is the older service known as INPUT, which had combined with others (i.e., FedSources) to be perhaps the most well known and perhaps the most heavily used. While not inexpensive, this is a premier database of government procurement announcements that tends to go way beyond FedBizOpps. As I have said previously, “time is money” so I consider this to be the kind of database that every professional BD practitioner should have. GovWin is now an acquisition target but this branded procurement data service will only get better for identifying, tracking and helping to research most open procurements. I recommend that you use as many features of the service as you can; you will get a better return if you make a slightly deeper investment, both in time and subscription fee. www.govwin.com
This is part 2 of a short series on tools you can use to increase your efficiency in hunting down targets and understanding your IC and Defense markets. It would be a challenge to use all of these but without much trouble, you’ll find the right mix for you and your business. Side Note: understanding your core market is critical to solving problems in it, especially with technology and innovation. Put yourself in the shoes of a defense or intelligence program manager: would you listen to someone trying to sell you something if she/he did not understand the larger context of your challenges? Maybe yes, may no. Good business developers are constantly trying to remove barriers to building relationships with clients and prospects. Ignorance of your client’s world is an easy barrier to remove.
Like a good horse for a range-roving cowboy. Like a decent hammer for a carpenter. A business developer needs tools to hunt down the right business opportunities and to efficiently engage the right clients. Several news tools have come to my attention recently and several older ones that still provide great value. This blog entry is one of several, over the next weeks, to highlight what’s available for the current BD practitioner in the federal/defense market. If you have been a BD professional for awhile and are not updated, this will help. If you’re still learning, this will be even more help. In any case, having the right tools is vital.
In part 1, our guest blogger discussed the wisdom found in sharpening your pencil on cost build-ups before applying margin as well as the wisdom in asking the right question to assure your bid and your delivery of services is solving the right problem. Here, in part 2, we explore how to be more competitive via learning from previous projects and using this to win the next one.
There is mere 'opinion' in this market and then there is 'qualified opinion'. In the case of the former, everybody has at least one. Just ask someone what small businesses can do (in the intelligence and defense markets) to become as competitive or more competitive than large businesses, and you'd get a mixed bag of answers. Below--and in the next blog entry, are the comments of Michael Gallo, owner and principal consultant of Valerisys Consulting. (www.valerisys.com) He has a qualified opinion to address several core issues that many services firms (in this market) deal with on a weekly basis: capital investment decision making in the federal sector including cost and price forecasting, modeling, assessment and review, proposal support, and training. Michael's 20+ years of experience has given him insights that many of us may miss. What is so valuable here is that (in my opinion) if you take his advice, you'll better understand how to solve real challenges, and with a higher quality of service. And being better at what you do will cause you to win more business as a direct result.
The world is changing in small as well as large ways. If you’re not adapting, you may be losing ground to your competitors. In fact, I’m working evenings and weekends, to gain the competitive edge right now… possibly on your company.
Even during a drought, weeds seem to continue to grow. This reminds me of when I was a kid, my dad had a full stock portfolio during the recession of the early 1970s. And he made money! He reminded me that thrift stocks and things like aftermarket auto parts grow because fewer car owners can afford to take their vehicle to the mechanic, so they fix it themselves. These two examples serve to remind us that shifts are constantly occurring in any given market. The key is to follow the flow of money, during the shift.
Real changes are afoot and your company needs to flex with the times. In reading the out-takes from the 2013 federal budget handed down by the executive branch, small businesses serving the Defense and intelligence markets need to tune their offerings in order to be responsive. First, let's quote Mary Ann Lawlor's article in AFCEA Magazine's Signal Connections (2/13/12):
Is your firm participating in any trade shows this calendar year? The chances are probably high that you are. Allow me to recommend a few tips; I have been practicing these for years in the IC table top shows, and they work; i.e., they drive results. No team would execute them perfectly, but it’s not rational to spend the cash for this trade show marketing and give a half effort once your team arrives at the venue.
When I was a kid, my dad made good money during the very early 1970s, which had a particularly poor-performing stock market. I grew up believing that even during a recession… certain things actually go up.