Proximity Is Power

Aug 29, 2022

I've often said selling to the DoD is a relationship game.

One off the best public sector sales people I've worked with said something that I'll never forget. He said, "Rick, if I had one piece of advice for anyone in this industry, it's GET MEETINGS. If you just get meetings with the program managers, engineers and contracting officers that buy what you're selling for the government, then the deals will come".

Another way of saying this is, proximity is power. If you are constantly in the room with government decision makers, leads and information will come to you that can result in contracts. In fact, most of the meetings I've set up for clients with the DoD have resulted in opportunities that were unexpected.  Meaning, I schedule a meeting to discuss say, software that can automate safety inspections and end up hearing about an installation command and control opportunity that they think we might be a good fit for. We may have never heard about this and we are certainly finding out about it early!

This is a true story. I set up a meeting with a high-ranking engineer at a military research lab. He was in charge of a program that I knew my company could engage on. At the beginning of the meeting we asked about each other's families and exchanged pleasantries. I started telling him about my company and how we could provide value on a specific effort his team was working on.

He didn't seem that interested so I wasn't pushing it. We started discussing the other efforts his team was working on and I mentioned a few government problems we recently solved. The efforts I mentioned were a bit off the cuff, but his eyes lit up unexpectedly when I brought up a recent modernization effort we worked on. This led to a request for multiple demo's and a pipeline of opportunities I did not even know existed.

I learned a long time ago that I do not know everything, not even close. It always pays to put yourself in the room with somebody that operates at a higher level than you do. If you're trying to sell to the DOD or any other government agency, putting yourself in the room with a decision maker can potentially have a tremendous ability to shape where you're going. This is why it's so important to develop these relationships or as my friend said, "get meetings".

Proximity is power. If you haven't had success selling in the public sector my recommendation is to focus all of your efforts on the pre-solicitation phase of any acquisition. This is where you put your ego aside and develop relationships with the customers that want to buy what you sell. Find out about the opportunities ahead of time and see how you can provide value to your potential customers.

And by he way..... If you only have time to do one thing, "GET MEETINGS"!

We have a great training module within the DoD Contract Academy on how to consistently schedule meetings with DoD decision makers that have purchasing authority. Learn More here!

Ricky Howard, Lt Col (Ret)

DoD Contract Academy


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