DoD Contract Academy
New Horizon Conference (Podcast Transcript)

New Horizon Conference (Podcast Transcript)

federal conference scheduling meetings understanding government contracts Sep 27, 2022

                         [01:12] Richard C. Howard: Hey, guys. Rick here with government sales momentum podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Today's a great episode. I'm going to talk a little bit about the conference I'm attending. Also some of the conversations I've been having with whether it's clients or people just calling up for a consult and give you some perspective on what I've seen over the past couple of years. But I did want to also let you know we have a bunch of great interviews coming up. I know I've been promising them for a while. We've got a full boat lined up. People that you've heard before on the podcast. We've gotten great response from also some new folks. Whether I worked with them as program manager in the government and the acquisitions world or whether they're coming from a different community, I really think you're going to get a lot of value from that. We're going to dive in deeper on proposal writing, on contract troubleshooting, what happens if you're on contract with the government, something comes up that you don't understand. So stay tuned for that. That's going to be really good.

                         This week and last week, so this is April 2022, I've been attending what's known as the New Horizons Conference and this is a conference that's put on yearly by APSIA. And it's very specific. It's very specific to the Air Force and more specifically, and it does go beyond Hanscom Air Force Base, but it's pretty much specific to the peers or I guess you could call them. A good way to think of a PEO if you're not familiar with the term, is that think of them as the CEO of a large acquisitions division that are going to have a lot of different efforts, a lot of different contracts. They're usually high ranking an SES if you're a civilian, which is kind of a general officer equivalent and then there's the flag officer or the general officer that's going to be especially at Hanscom. You have one SES and the other PEO is a general officer. So two peers at Hanscom. Again, this conference covers more than just that, but still very specific right now, and we talked about this with clients is, hey, what direction are you going in? You've heard my podcast in the past where I talk a lot about knowing exactly who you're trying to sell to. And it's so important. And with companies that we've talked to that don't even know their own why, right? Like, why are you trying to sell to the government to begin with? Is it because you just want a big government contract? Well, that's probably not the best reason, right? You need something more than that.

                         Now, you might win a contract or two, but it's going to shine through if you're just in it for the money. We're not stupid on the government side, but we understand that we're looking for capability. We're looking for someone to provide value at an extreme level. So if you recognize yourself and your mission is, hey, I want to provide value to, let's say, the US. Military, most specifically, hey, I want to bring value to the United States air Force and the people in it. I want to make them safer, healthier. I want to equip them so we are in the best place to defend our country and execute our missions worldwide. That's a much better, much stronger mission for you. And that also gives you the clarity on where you're going. Well, hey, if it's the air force, now, where within the air Force do you want to sell to?

                         [04:09] Richard C. Howard: And we've talked about how you can whether you're doing personal research to see maybe who's spending and buying the products you sell, or maybe you have a relationship in an office somewhere, and that's maybe your first step in the door. But really, that should be based on research, relationships, facts, why you're focused in a certain area. And one of the things, once you know, once you have that direction and you're focused and you know where you're going, there are a lot of things that you can do to now expand upon that, to learn to create relationships, to understand the mission, to understand the requirements. And something like a New Horizons conference, if you were targeting Hanscom Air Force Base, and I live right by Hanscom. So for me, this is something that I like to attend every year. And it's really great because what you're getting is the PEO's perspective. So this is like the high level perspective on maybe where the government is going acquisitions wise. But then you're getting their program managers, division chiefs, people that are actually in charge of managing the different contracts and efforts coming up and telling you, hey, these are actually areas of opportunity that we are working on.

                         [05:12] Richard C. Howard: And here are some places where you can engage if you are a business. So you can see this is extremely valuable, especially I don't know how many companies I've talked to that have basically said, hey, we don't have any relationships in the government. We don't know who to contact, we don't know who to talk to. It's worth making a small investment and going to one of these conferences because for instance, with this one, you're going to come out of it and know, hey, one of the peers which spoke last week had a variety of efforts and they would have their people that are running those efforts come on and say, hey, these are the efforts that we're looking for help on. This is the contracting vehicles we're looking at using, whether it's GSA, open competition, this is how much money they'll even tell you, hey, we think there's going to be a $47 million contract. Hey, part of this is doing a small business. We're looking at the RFI coming out in June and going on contract at the end of the year. Actually, that would be a pretty aggressive timeline, but still they're giving you those numbers and they're giving you a contract.

                         So when you come out of that now you have, hey, here's an effort we can engage on. We know the steps that we can take before the proposal needs to be written. So if there's an RFI we can engage on that, we know the POC. We have an idea of how big the contract is going to be. So if you're a small business and you see that it's a $20 million contract, it's probably going to be something you have to subcontract with or form a teaming arrangement on. But it's giving you a lot of that information and you're hearing them briefly. So the challenges that are associated with the program that you might be able to solve. And it's going to go beyond that too, because when you're getting your boss kind of give direction, you have round tables where different businesses are asking questions. You can ask questions that you might not have the answers to just in the regular, if you're just scouring for an RFI or a proposal to write a response to or a proposal on, this is going to give you a lot more information. It's going to give you that clarity you need and that direction that way forward.

                         So this week, what's great about this conference, and a lot of them are now is it's virtual so I don't have to drive down to Hanson's Air Force Base or to Hotel to go to this conference every day. I can kind of pick and choose what I want to watch and everything's recorded. So now not only do I get to experience the live version virtually of this conference, but now I can go back and watch the recorded videos of the peers, the program managers going over things and I already have four different efforts I'm working on. So now I can go and really understand, go back and dig in. Hey, what is this effort? Does it make sense for the company I'm working with? Does it make sense for me? And maybe you missed the contact. Hey, this is the contact or maybe they verbally said there's somebody else you can reach out to as well. So it can give you those contacts that you need to actually make initial contact, gives you the dates you need for planning, it gives you the money, it gives you all the figures.

                         So again, I can't say enough about attending these type of conferences, even virtually it can help you tremendously in your planning and building out your pipeline and really figuring out where you're going to engage on. Now in person conferences of course, also have advantages and one of them as a company is being able to set up a booth and demonstrate what you have, especially if it's a technology or product. If you pick the right conference, meaning if you're picking a conference that is largely attended by if it's the military, if it's the Air Force, if it was Air Combat Command for instance, you'd want it to be attended by those types of individuals. And a lot of times what you'll get is the user of what you're buying, which sometimes the user is pretty good about. Kind of the lower level purchases can help with some of that. But you're also getting sometimes the contracting officers, which are going to be involved in the program managers that are involved with the bigger purchases. And then you also tend to get the higher-ranking kernels, maybe the lower ranking generals. But these are going to be people involved in the requirements process that can come by and say, hey, we do have a need for software X and we have a budget for it and maybe you should be looking in this area. But when you can bring the users, the contracting officers, and whether it's the program managers or the requirements people, you can bring all these different types of people together. That can be really powerful. And if what you have is really good and you have some high-ranking general officers or SES or high-ranking government officials around that see something in your product that maybe no one is even tracking yet, right? And this has happened to us bringing clients to these conferences, just, hey, that would be perfect for this. And then they'll give you a page. You can talk to my aid to Camp or whoever it is, they're going to put you in touch with the right people. That's a way to really get that inside track on an effort before it ever comes out.

                         We've talked so much about how relationships are important and relationships are important in a lot of cases just so you understand what's coming up so you can work on that and help sculpt, I guess you could say, not just the requirements, but you could sculpt what you're selling to meet the need of the organization. So just a little bit about conferences, about new horizons. It's going to be wrapping up this week. You may still be able to register for that. You probably can. I would check out the AFCA website. I think it's Abstia, Lexington, Concord, and if you can't find it, you could just DM me or send me an email. I will certainly respond to you, help you out there. Hopefully this provided some value to you. So again, direction, the direction of your company, what's your mission, who are you selling to? And then some of these conferences can really provide value like it's providing to me and businesses are working with right now. So again, I hope that helps guys reach out to me. You can go to our website,, check out our videos. Got a lot of free videos, links to the podcast, a lot of free material. We have a proposal writing team. If you are engaged with writing proposals and in response to RFP, we can certainly provide you a quote on any solicitation. Another very valuable service that we provide is we will actually read team a proposal you've written. So we have a former high ranking contract officer that works with us and basically what he'll do is take your proposal and review it like the government would and then can provide you with a score basically on, hey, this is where you should improve. This was really good. Maybe you missed the nuance of it right here. This needs to be redone, maybe very valuable for you when you're submitting a proposal. So again, feel free to reach out to us and let us know if you're interested in any of that. I got to go, but I will see you next week. Take care.

                         [11:55] Richard C. Howard: Hope you enjoyed this episode of government sales momentum. If you did enjoy the episode, please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review. It's very much appreciated. If you're interested in selling products and services to the Department of Defense, I have something for you that you're not going to find anywhere else in the world. The team and I created a program that takes everything you need to win defense contracts and put it into one place. Up until now, only large defense companies and a small amount of people in the know have had access to how products and services are really sold to the Department of Defense. I've taken all of that information and put it in a step-by-step training module that shows you how to consistently sell to the US military. If you join our membership, not only do you get the model, but you get weekly sessions with former DOD acquisitions officers for training and guidance to answer your questions in a community of like minded business owners that want to partner on different opportunities to bid for subcontracting and teaming, or just to discuss general strategy on how to sell to the DOD. You'll have access to every course I've created, every coaching session I've ever recorded in every interview with an acquisitions professional that I've ever conducted, and we covered topics that range from defense sales planning and competitor analysis to SBIR and STTR foreign military sales. The list goes on. Go to if you are interested and I would love to see you in the membership. Thanks.

You can also check out our episode on Fall out Funds where I talked about what fall out funds are and how they can help fund your government contracting efforts.

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"DoD Contract Academy helped us identify and win a spot in the AFWERX Challenge showcase! I highly recommend to all companies looking to sell products, services or a new technology to the US military."

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