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September 2021 - Delving Into the Public Sector

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

While I hope everyone had a prosperous year selling to the federal government unfortunately, we do not allow for time to celebrate (or mourn) the prior year as we need to start preparing our plan and strategy for the new year. So, what does that look like?

As September comes to a close, we see the end of yet another federal fiscal year) and the beginning of a new fiscal year (2022) that begins October 1, 2021. While I hope everyone had a prosperous year selling to the federal government unfortunately, we do not allow for time to celebrate (or mourn) the prior year as we need to start preparing our plan and strategy for the new year. So, what does that look like?

Focus: The first thing I want to remind you of is the need to focus when you are selling to the federal government. A shotgun approach is not the best practice in this vertical as it can quickly become too much or overwhelming. In order to do this, you will want to know what your capacity is for new business development. Additionally, you will want to define the geography that you are comfortable supporting. Lastly, you will want to know your market for federal government. Which agencies, bases, general contractors, design firms, etc. are in your defined geography? Will they have money going into the new fiscal year? Do they have plans to spend that money on the product or services you offer? Are all very important questions to answer.

Research: One of my favorite things about selling to Public Sector is the access to information. With the federal government if you know how to find the information and put the time in to do the research you can identify who in your target area will have money and will be purchasing your goods/services. You can find out how they procure what you offer, who currently provides it to them and, if they procure on a contract, when that contract will be up for renewal. Additionally, you can identify the right people to contact to start the conversation for your company. Research is important on so many levels. You do not want to waste time calling on someone who can only buy off a contract you do not hold or an agency who has no money allotted for what you offer.

Create the Plan: Behind every good federal sales year for me has been a well thought out strategy that evolves throughout the fiscal year and, of course, some bluebirds from great partners!

First, identify who on your sales team will be pursing Government business if you have not already.

Then identify who the targets are. This can and should include such targets as: government agencies, military bases, socio- economic partners, design firms, GCs, lead sites, and BPAs and IDIQs you know will be coming out for bid this year.

For each target you need a plan on how you are going to pursue them, how often, who and the steps involved that lead to success with the target. This should be as detailed as possible, at this point in time, and should be a living document where you can update as you find out more information about the agency or as the landscape changes throughout the year. The plan cannot be static, especially in October, as budgets have not even been finalized for everyone yet. Make sure you include all aspects of what you need: marketing, inside sales, sales and clearly identify who is doing what in the plan. I recommend that the government team lead within your organization be responsible for the plan, and that they revisit it monthly to confirm that the team is working the plan and that the plan is still the direction you want to go. Don’t be afraid to remove or add to the plan, just keep it focused and moving forward.

Set the goals: The plan should include what the goal is for each target to consider the initiative a win for your company. A sales number will not be the win for every target. It could be simply responding to the RFP or responding to bids on ebuy, or it may be getting a virtual or in person meeting with the general contractor or A&D firm to introduce your company and their capabilities. Remember you are building a program and there are many steps to be taken along the way to get to the ultimate goal of a sales number. Set realistic goals and celebrate the success- es along the way that lead to the sale.

Track your success: Lastly, make sure you have the capability and the resources set up to track how you do against your goals. If you cannot track the outcome of the goal you need to rethink the goal.

Once you have determined your focus, done the research, created your plan, set your goals, and have your tracking in place you are ready to mobilize for success.

Happy New Year!! Best wishes for a successful FY2022!!

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 companies' sales and positioning within their industry and distribution. Michelle has been in the commercial furniture industry for over 25 years with experience on both 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.


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