Thursday, January 28, 2010
Dan Callahan

You don't need to be a satellite manufacturer to have a value proposition for the NGA.  They are a large agency that has a diverse mission and a long list of constituents.   Their data and telecom networks pass bits generally the same way other corporate nets pass information, so as with all the IC agencies, you can divide their needs into two categories: mission specific (geospatial analysis and production) and IT support infrastructure (i.e., databases, applications, networks and systems (DANS)). 

What makes selling to the NGA different?  One quickly needs to examine how they engage the public.  Below, I offer my suggestions for penetrating this agency. 

At the risk of oversimplifying, if anyone is even partially serious (is that even possible?) they would be at the GEOINT conference if they have any desire to penetrate the NGA.  By sending the qualified individual(s), your firm may not even have to exhibit in order to make a lot of progress.  I say this from experience: I get my best work accomplished when I am not tied-down to a booth, which can be a painfully passive activity (i.e., waiting for others to come to you, vice you seeking them out).  I believe the best way to work a large conference such as GEOINT is to attend and remain 'at large'; listen to as many of the talks as possible, partake of the hospitality of the sponsors, meet as many of the integrators as time permits and BY ALL MEANS, don’t leave until you have bumped into every executive possible from the NGA!  Read the last four issues of Pathfinder Magazine (see ) and learn who the executives are, if you are unable to find out from regular searches.  When you see them, you will recognize them and can approach them and have an intelligent conversation.  I have done this before and it really depends on how badly you want to penetrate this agency.  Anyway, back to GEOINT: you should really work this conference hard if you want to jump start your GEOINT BD effort.

As you craft the specific value proposition—i.e., exactly how will NGA better meet their mission as a direct result of your solution?, you need to speak with systems integrators that have prime contracts there.  Don’t forget, their business model is first and foremost: 'professional services'.  Innovative ideas and thinking outside the box, comes second, and sometimes never.  So, have a S.I. value proposition that allows them to add value to your solutions as you both serve and support the NGA mission.  Getting these appointments isn’t that challenging; you simply narrow you laser focus: "say, I’m looking for your NGA Program Manager, I understand your company has a thriving contract out there and I would like to help you make it more profitable …Can you point me to your Program Manager?"  Naturally this assumes you could not determine this by conducting Google searches and regular networking. 

One obvious entry point into NGA is their Industry Day, sponsored by AFCEA International, in April 2010.  (Hire a SECRET Cleared consultant if you have to…it’s worth it!).  If you left this conference with no leads or interesting follow-ups, I'd fire you!  Or reassign you out of a BD role!  Pay close attention to their industry interaction folks who will accept unsolicited white papers that speak to known needs.  Caution: you have one shot at this technical executive committee, so your paper should be the absolute best that you can come up with.  Clearly tell the agency what you can do for them--in terms that directly support their mission.

One more, before I solicit your input… don't forget the retired NGA executive.  They have forgotten more than most know about the agency and you can use them for focused objectives.  Although this takes time it can be very valuable. 

Now these approaches listed here are easy and sometimes obvious; so, tell me what I’ve left out!  I look forward to your thoughts.

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