For an IT consulting services company, securing a long-term government contract can provide a secure source of steady revenue for years. This makes pursuing these opportunities extremely attractive.
However, firms can become frustrated by not knowing the “rules of the game” when it comes to dealing with the red tape and sometimes excessive caution on the part of government buyers.
In fact, chasing one of these contracts can actually lose money, as resources and expense are devoted to preparing complex, compliant proposals — a process that can take many man-hours to put together, and if done wrong can get your package dumped in the reject pile without more than a cursory glance.
Asher Strategies’ CEO and founder, Mr. John Asher, has taken years of experience in selling to government contractors and agencies to develop specific strategies for success in selling to the government, all of which are applicable to selling IT services.
Here are 5 key steps to success in selling consulting services to the government:
A coach is defined as an insider or close associate of the decision maker(s). He or she functions as an ally, and wants you to get the business.
When establishing a coach for government sales, try to find someone that can help you get involved before the Request for Proposals are released, so you can advise the customer on important points to include and earn trust.
Teaming up with smaller companies on your proposal can get your business through small business or disadvantaged set-asides, broadening the type of projects you can work on.
Conversely, when you team up with companies bigger than yours, you can access projects that might have been out of your league previously. The benefit to the larger company is that you can make them look stronger and therefore help them win the business.
If you are technically compliant and have the winning price, you will rarely lose. There is an art to achieving this, however. The key is to completely understand the customer’s needs and provide the solution with the lowest possible cost to you — passing the savings onto the buyer.
A word of warning: make sure you factor in contingencies into your pricing, or else you could get caught up in a money-losing deal yet be forced to deliver.
Writing great proposals means making them concise, readable, and persuasive. Of paramount importance is the executive summary, which is often the only part actually read by key decision makers.
Asher’s training for IT companies selling consulting services to the government covers writing winning proposals, with a particular focus on producing excellent executive summaries to get the rest of the package read.
Ghosting arguments are those that answer the question “Why shouldn’t I use your competition?”
This does not mean to tear down the competition, but does require knowing their weaknesses so these can be highlighted in your proposal and make your solution the top answer.
As an example, if a competitor is known to have suffered an intrusion by a hacker, a ghosting discriminator would be “We are the only company in the area to have been free of security breaches in our network in the past five years.”
In addition to Asher’s popular “Selling Excellence” training course, those selling consulting services to the government should consider taking a specialized course we offer called “Selling Through IDIQContracts, GWACs and the GSA Schedule.”
For more information on these and other training options, contact us today.
Kevin Gallagher, Vice President, Information Technology Group Aegis Research Corporation