Whether you refer to this stage of the process as “marketing” or “capture”, it’s a critical step to have influence over the acquisition. Knowing your avatars and how to approach each is a skill you refine over time. We will discuss that further in a future blog. For now, let’s dive into 9 tips for making the most of your engagement with government stakeholders.
(1) Follow the Money
Marketing can indeed be a challenging endeavor, especially when you find yourself navigating through a sea of agencies and points of contact. Getting caught up in the wrong partnerships is too easy, ultimately leading to wasted time and resources. Conducting thorough market research becomes your compass to steer clear of this frustration. By doing so, you can guarantee that your efforts are laser-focused, addressing the precise needs of your target audience.
Market research is the crucial first step in guiding your strategy in the right direction. It’s like ensuring you’re on the right track before revving the engine. With this approach, you’ll not only avoid spinning your wheels but also enhance the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives.
So, invest your time wisely in understanding your audience’s preferences and pain points – the key to making your marketing endeavors successful.
(2) Arm Yourself with Facts – Not Emotion
Going into a meeting blind is one of the biggest engagement mistakes in the federal marketplace. It’s best practice to have done your homework on the agency’s procurement habits before the meeting. Learn how and when they buy, and speak to it in your presentation.
Nobody wants to hear about how you “should be” awarded a contract because you have a set-aside. Your set-asides aren’t indicative of the value you provide. You cannot be good at what you do because you’re a Veteran, woman, or HUBZone.
Suppose it’s a conference you’re attending, the same thing. Do your due diligence and know who will be in the room, and if they are involved in the procurement process – make it a point to shake their hand and introduce yourself.
(3) Find Your Niche
Another common mistake is trying to be everything to everyone – you can’t. How can you be an expert in IT and bidding on a transportation contract?
We often see businesses with inaccurate NAICS codes, missing PSC codes, or even worse – scattered codes across the board in everything from transportation to construction. They add 25 NAICS codes and occupy precious space on their capability statement.
The government is already incredibly risk-averse. Pick what you are good at and stay in your lane, if you want to build trust with your government buyers.
(4) Understand Your Customers
When you have diligently conducted your preliminary research on the target agency, you should comprehensively grasp specific talking points gleaned from your findings. This prior knowledge serves as your initial avenue for engagement, facilitating the acquisition of a meeting. Notably, the insights obtained through research often comprise quantitative data, offering a factual foundation for your approach.
To achieve a comprehensive understanding of your clientele, engaging in direct dialogue with them is imperative. This interaction lets you delve into their pain points, allowing your proposed solution to address their challenges precisely. Additionally, it is essential to establish a relatable rapport with your prospective clients, positioning yourself as an industry expert. This approach facilitates trust and confidence in your capabilities as a solution provider.
(5) Get to Know the Small Business Specialists/ Liaisons
Small Business Specialists and Liaisons can be a great advantage and a handy resource in the federal marketplace for your business. They are advocates and support staff to assist the procurement team in meeting their goals, assisting with market research and other contracting-related functions. They are usually the speakers at engagement events held by the agency and spend a lot of time collaborating with “industry” (aka you.)
Assisting clients with their procurement strategies, we’ve received assistance across the spectrum – lists of GPC holders, Program Manager’s contact information, micro-purchase data, warm introductions, and facilitation of scheduling capability briefings with decision-makers and stakeholders. If you don’t ask, how do they know you need assistance?
(6) Avoid Cold, Canned Pitches
It is imperative to bear in mind that the priorities of government agencies may significantly differ from those of your commercial clients. Consequently, relying on a previously used, conventional presentation may not resonate with your new potential buyer. Not all agencies participate in the small business contracting program so leading with your set-asides is less compelling than leading with value.
The only aspect of your engagement that could be considered “canned” should be your elevator pitch, and even that should ideally be meticulously customized to resonate with your prospective federal clientele. Thoroughly researching their unique requirements and gaining an in-depth comprehension of their distinct challenges is paramount. If necessary, do not hesitate to reference past solicitations to glean valuable insights.
In the realm of government contracting, a one-size-fits-all approach is not practical. It is imperative to adapt your strategies and presentations in alignment with your federal counterparts’ specific demands and preferences. Demonstrating your dedication to understanding their intricacies bolsters your credibility and enhances the likelihood of securing fruitful engagements. Therefore, the key takeaway here is to invest the time and effort required to thoroughly acquaint yourself with the federal landscape, ensuring that your interactions are both relevant and impactful.
(7) Be Thorough in Your Approach
When engaging with the federal government as a new contractor, it’s vital to convey how your service or product can positively impact project cost, schedule, and performance – aspects that government agencies hold in high regard.
Begin by elucidating how your offering can lead to cost savings. Explain how it streamlines processes, optimizes resource allocation, or reduces inefficiencies, resulting in a more budget-friendly approach to project execution. Then, emphasize the benefits of your service or product on project scheduling. Illustrate how it can expedite tasks, reduce delays, or improve coordination, ensuring projects are completed on time or even ahead of schedule.
Lastly, underscore how your solution enhances project performance. Detail how it can elevate quality, boost reliability, or enhance functionality, all of which align directly with the government’s project goals and objectives.
By tailoring your message to address these critical factors – cost, schedule, and performance – you’ll demonstrate to government agencies that your offering is valuable in achieving their project objectives. This approach can be especially compelling for new government contractors looking to establish their presence and credibility in this sector.
Distinguishing yourself from other top performers is a crucial element of any presentation. Before your presentation, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your unique strengths and attributes that set you apart. This necessitates a thorough self-assessment to identify your key differentiators. Moreover, be prepared to discuss these differentiators with intelligence and precision during your presentation.
If you lack readily available answers, invest the time and effort to conduct thorough research. It will empower and enable you to articulate your competitive advantages confidently and effectively, leaving a lasting impression on your audience.
Highlighting what makes you stand out is a demonstration of your self-awareness and a compelling way to showcase the value you bring to the table. It conveys your commitment to delivering exceptional results and reinforces your position as a well-prepared professional dedicated to meeting your audience’s needs. This proactive approach can significantly enhance credibility and effectiveness in any presentation scenario.
(9) Relate Your Experience to the Scope
Anticipating that federal buyers will automatically connect the dots between your experience and their specific challenges can be counterproductive. Instead, it’s essential to articulate why your experience matters to them proactively. Recognize that what holds value for one agency may differ significantly from the priorities of another. Therefore, it becomes your responsibility to elucidate these connections explicitly rather than leaving it to them to decipher.
For instance, while Agency A might find significance in a minor component of your past project, Agency B could have an entirely distinct set of concerns. It falls upon you to clarify these points during your engagement, ensuring that your expertise aligns precisely with their needs. This approach demonstrates your commitment to addressing their unique challenges. It simplifies the decision-making process for your federal buyers, making it easier for them to recognize the value you bring to their situation.
Ultimately, you will have to do this a few times and exchange dialogue with the government to become comfortable enough to develop a repeatable capture process. If you need guidance, we are here to help. Schedule a strategy session with Ashley Duwel to discuss and level up your capture strategy.