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December 2021 - Delving Into the Public Sector

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Planning for Success

In the world according to Google, the definition of planning I found that I like best is: “Planning may be defined as deciding in advance what is to be done in future. It is the process of thinking before doing. It involves determination of goals as well as the activities required to be undertaken to achieve the goals.”

I am a Planner. Sometimes I feel like that is not as valued as it should be. As I hope you have seen over the past months of my articles, planning is a key to success in public sector which is perhaps why I gravitated to these vertical markets. When I say public sector, my focus is Federal, State, Local, Education and Cooperative.

The two main tasks I emphasize in public sector is planning and focus. These go hand in hand. If your planning is done correctly, it should clearly lead you to what your focus should be in the area you are targeting.

Why is planning so important?

There are probably a hundred quotes I could share to express the answer to this question but let’s settle for two:

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
― Benjamin Franklin

So, now that we agree on the importance of planning let’s look at what the key parts of a plan for public sector should be using the simple 4 Ws (and 1 H): Who, What, When, Why, and How.

Who: There are a lot of who’s to identify. You need to identify who at your company is going to be focusing on public sector AND you need to identify which part of public sector they will be targeting. After that, if you are a manufacturer, who are the dealers that you will partner with because of their strength in this market. If you are a dealer, who are the end users in your market you will be focusing on (hint: follow the money) and who are the design firms, general contractors etc. that work in this area,

What: What could involve many aspects of the process. What does targeting the vertical look like for your company? What needs to be done before you can target your vertical? i.e. Are there internal items that need to be looked at? What does targeting a vertical do to other opportunities you were considering in the past?

When: In public sector each market is different when it comes to budget and spending. Take time to research your vertical and create a plan around these key factors. But remember, not everything is a short game. Have some long game targets as well.

Why: The why should be based on research you did to understand your market which led you to identifying that a specific vertical is a good market for you. It is great if you have more than one answer to the why. For example: The why could be that you have a lot of higher education in your area AND you have a person on your team that is a specialist or has experience in selling to higher education AND you have products that are perfect for higher education AND you have access to contract vehicles that higher education can purchase from. You do not need all 4 of these, but the more you have the better.

How: This is the actual plan. How are you going to be successful in selling to the vertical you have chosen? There are many facets to the how: Relationships are key so how are you going to develop them? How will you get in front of the right people? How do you stay in front of the right people? How will you market to them effectively? How will you communicate the feature/benefit of working with you over your competition?

I hope this has encouraged you and helped you in some way to start your planning for 2022. As much as I love the plan, I also look to revisit the plan on a regular basis and realize the need to be able to adjust the plan based on unforeseen circumstances. I think this habit changes the task from the noun plan to the verb planning. It is ongoing and should continue to evolve throughout the days, months, years as you cultivate it.

With that, I will leave you with one last quote:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower

About Michelle Warren

Michelle Warren is President of Catalyst Consulting Group, a firm specializing in providing strategic solutions to the commercial furniture industry to enhance their sales and positioning within the industry and distribution.

Michelle has been in the commercial furniture industry for over 25 years with experience on the dealer and manufacturer side of the industry. She has experience at the EVP, VP and National Sales Manager level for large and small manufacturers in addition to in-depth understanding and experience in creating programs to target and selling to the Federal

Government, State Government, Higher Education, and working with Cooperative Purchasing. GSA selected her as 1 of 2 board members to represent industry on the Quality Partnership Council which she served on for almost 4 years. Additionally, she has represented the manufacturer she worked for as a member of the Coalition for Government Procurement for over 4 years.

Because Michelle believes in the healthy building and how a building can affect employees,

she is a Fitwel Ambassador.

Creating Sales strategies, strategic planning, 3-5 year road mapping, creating targeted marketing plans, distribution development, hiring reps, and training for reps and/or dealers have been numbered among her work.

She is known as a “serial networker” in the furniture industry and enjoys meeting people and making connections happen. If you want to connect with Michelle connect with her at


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