DoD Contract Academy
The 10 Step Government Sales Process (Podcast Transcript)

The 10 Step Government Sales Process (Podcast Transcript)

gov sales government contacts Sep 16, 2022

                Richard C. Howard: Hey, guys, Richard here. Just want to give you a quick introduction to today's episode. So this was actually a presentation I gave recently and there was a video in a slide deck associated with this, and I'm going to leave a link to that if you're interested. Basically, I go over our ten-step strategy guide to Ultimate Government sales. Everything from making your go no go decisions to optimizing the agencies you're selling, to aligning yourself, influencing operations, and then ultimately ending up on contract with the government. Now also, we do have a new program rolling out, so if you're interested, we are going to be working with five companies starting in January for a three-month period to really jump-start your federal sales. So everything I just talked about, from focusing on specific agencies that buy what you sell, understanding who the contracting officers are, what their purchasing strategies are, aligning your company with those influencing those opportunities, really setting yourself up for the win at the end of the road, that's what we're going to be doing over that three month period. If you're interested, you can reach out to us at, and fill out a consultation. You'll speak with me personally and you'll also be working with my team and me over that three-month period so we don't hand you off to somebody else. So that being said, let's get started with the show. Today we're going to walk through the federal sales cycle. This is going to be good for new companies that are thinking about selling to the government, as well as companies that have been doing it for a while, maybe looking to improve the way you're doing things or if you're struggling. I think this will shed some light. So what we're going to go through first is a misnomer. This is how especially newer businesses or people thinking about doing this for the first time, or companies that aren't selling anything view the process. They see a solicitation, it matches the product or service that they provide, say, hey, great, we're going to write a proposal on this submitted to the government, and we're going to win that contract. But the reality of the situation is, if that's how you're approaching government sales, you're winning at best 10% of your contracts. Probably far less than that, it's probably 1% or no percent if you're just writing proposals on solicitations and submitting them.

                Now, there are caveats. You certainly could win something that way. You might get lucky. But the way companies that are doing this over and over again, meaning repeated sales to the government, if they are influencing requirements before that solicitation ever comes out, they're developing a relationship with the program office. They are responding to our fires and sources. They are suggesting to the government, hey, this is how you should make this purchase. These are the requirements on the products that you're going to buy or the certifications that the personnel that are doing the work for you should have. Basically, you're doing anything that you can to put your company in a better position to win. And the more you do that upfront, the more likely you're going to win. Now, I put that you're 25 times more likely to win. I think it's actually a lot higher than that. And in fact, very, very rarely am I going to recommend to a client that they put a proposal in on something that they haven't influenced. There are times there are caveats to this, but as a general rule, this is the case. Now, first step for any company when you are looking to sell to the government is make your go no go decision. Does the government buy what you sell? How much of it do they buy? Before you go out and get a GSA contract or start writing proposals or even think about this, you need to know that there's enough money that the government is spending in your particular industry and your niche to make it worth your while and everything's public as far as government sales concerns. So you can know the exact amount, like what is the average amount of contract value for your industry, how much are they spending each year, which agencies are actually this goes to number two, are actually making those purchases. So once you identify that the government does buy what you sell, and they probably do because the US. Government, they say, is the biggest purchaser of goods and services in the world. And if that's not true, it's pretty close.

                 The next thing you need to do is figure out your contract strategy. And what I mean by that is, okay, they buy what you sell, but you're not just writing proposals on every solicitation you see. In fact, I think, you know, at this point, that's the wrong way to approach this. You need to develop relationships with the agencies that actually make purchases in your field, whether it's cyber security or airplane repair, or even if you're mowing lawns doing contract work. If you're in construction, whatever it is that you do, you need to know who makes those purchases in the government. If you're in construction, it's probably the Army Corps of Engineers. If it's cyber security, it's everybody. But you got to have a focus. So who buys what you sell? Who are you targeting, and how do they buy what you sell? That's the second question you need to ask, because there's a lot of different ways to make purchases in the government. So once you know, hey, I'm targeting the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and these particular acquisition shops because they're the contracting shops that are actually making purchases. Because keep in mind, when you're selling to the government, 99.9% of the time, the user of what you sell will never, ever be able to make a purchase from you, especially with the larger contracts. It's always going to be a contracting officer, a program manager, and an acquisition shop, and they're probably not even collocated with the user. Okay, so you need to know that which contracting shop makes those purchases? How do they make them? Do they use GSA? If they do and they use it a lot, you might need a GSA contract. But if they don't, if it's fewer than 10%, you don't need that, at least not right away. Do they use other vehicles? Do they make direct purchases, simplified acquisitions? What set aside, do they rely on? All of this is going to dictate who you approach and how you approach government sales. And without knowing this, you're going to waste a lot of time and a lot of money. So, hey, you know, who buys what you sell? You know how they make purchases. You're aligning yourself with those purchases. And what's the next step? Well, now we have to identify opportunities and build your pipeline in those organizations that can be done with bid matching tools. That can be done by the owner of the company or somebody on his team that could be done with someone like myself and my team to do that for you. But what you're going to need to do is; first of all, focus on opportunities before they become solicitations RFI, which is a request for information sources sought. Remember, if you're targeting those, the handcuffs are off.

                   You can suggest ways that the government can make purchases. You can suggest set aside. You can suggest anything that you want to. But once that RFP comes out, the request for proposal, their hands are tied. You're not suggesting anything. All you can do is write a proposal at that point and it better be exactly the way that they want it or they might not even read the entire thing so opportunity ID. You can do this through bid matching tools, you can do this through acquisitions forecast. Reviewing those conferences are a great way. Government conferences. There's a difference between industry based conferences where there's not a lot of government personnel, and government sponsored conferences where you're going to have a thousand government members walking around, which would have the ability to either generate requirements, make purchases, or actually use what you have. But you could find out about a lot of opportunities in those places, webinars in your target agency. So usually there's a lot of ways to find out about those opportunities and build your pipeline, but you've got to be able to do that now. Influencing opportunities, once you find out about those opportunities, it doesn't just end with replying to a source of salt or having a meeting at a conference. Need to set up business development meetings with those officers, really start figuring out the details of what does the government need, right? Because your job. When I was an acquisitions program manager, all I cared about when the company came into my office was can they solve my problem? And if they didn't even know what my problem was, the meeting was over before it started. I'm not there to listen to what your set asides are. That government person is there to hear about what you can provide, how you can solve their problems. So you better be prepared for that. And that's a huge thing getting those meetings, learning how you can help and solve the government problem sets, because that is going to help you tremendously. When you have to write a proposal, you're going to understand the nuance of what the government needs. It's very important.

                  Next, we're looking at response assembly. So someone has to write your RFI source of responses, someone has to write your white papers. Eventually someone has to write your proposals, whether that's somebody on your team or an expert, you need to figure out how you're going to go about that. But that is the next stage in the process. And by the way, all of this is happening before the solicitation comes out. So you can see here there are a lot of steps you need to go through. Formal engagement, meaning now you've got to submit your either whether it's an RFI or white paper, FBI or Submission, which I cover in some of my podcasts and videos, setting up your accounts, making sure that you're communicating with the small business office. Formal engagement has a lot of steps and someone has to be managing that for you so that's somebody on your team that's actually doing that and doesn't stop after that. Once you spend all this time influencing, you need to follow up, make sure they got your response. Is there anything, were you on your mark? Did you miss something.

                  Additionally, you need to make sure that you keep an eye out for the eventual solicitation. You don't want to do all of this work and then miss the solicitation when it comes out, right? So the next step is the solicitation itself. Having a proposal team. Somebody that can actually understand, hey, this is what a compliance matrix looks like, this is what the fire clauses stand for. You need to know what you're signing up for and you need to write that proposal. It's very exacting and if you mess it up, you're not going to win. Even if you've done all of this influencing ahead of time, if you miss some of the core requirements of the solicitation, then it's going to be one of your competitors that wins and not you. So you don't want to be in that game. So make sure you're paying attention to that and you're hiring the right people. You have to submit the proposal right? And you want to give yourself enough time because a lot of times the accounts that you register for, like a good example is if you're putting in SBIR submissions, STTR submissions. If you're doing that with the Department of Defense, you're probably submitting that through a website called DCIP. DSIP is world renowned for failing the day that all the submissions are due and crashing. So you want to make sure you're submitting ahead of time, giving you enough time to do that, knowing that there are those types of technological problems. So if you're going to the last minute you might not even be able to submit because sometimes it is more than just sending an email. And then finally contract award. So that was the six to twelve month cycle and ten steps up to contract award and it can take longer than that. It can be a little bit smaller than that. But I just wanted to give you an idea of what is involved there. Now how can you save time here? Right? And this is the last point I'm going to make on this slide. Conference attendance is actually very powerful now we'll take clients to a conference where we have a network and we have business developers, we'll set up a booth and we're bringing decision makers, requirements, generators. If it's the military we're talking about, Colonels, that are on staff that can set aside money, that can develop requirements, general officers that know big picture, hey, we're looking for these types of technologies. The users, whether it's a software you have or a product that will actually use it because the users will generate the need for the requirements folks, right? And then the contracting staff actually can put you on contract in a conference. All of these people often are in the exact same place. So what you can do is instead of spending months trying to set up meetings with the different users requirements and contracting folks, if you find a good conference and you set it up right, you bring the right people there with the right network, you could save a lot of time. You could see going from two to eight in relative speed versus having to set up these meetings and you're cold calling and emailing and there's a lot of different ways to exploit a network and try to get foot in the door with the government, but hopefully that helps you understand a little bit more about what expedite that.

                   If you do 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 guidance to answer your questions, and 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 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 cover 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. Did and I would love to see you in the membership. Thanks.

You can also check out our episode on Assessment: Are you Ready for Federal Sales to get a walk through self-assessment checklist for your company to know if you are prepared for government contracts.

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