Government Contractors – is NOW the time to cut Business Development?

Government Contractors – should we cut BD now?

Based in Maryland and let’s face it many of our clients either are government contractors or sell to government contractors; sequestration and budgetary concerns are real and we’ve seen a pullback in investment in business development, whether in house or outsourced.  I get it, it can be a scary time to make investments and commit to dollars you aren’t 100% sure will come back in a reasonable time but here’s why your competition is putting more money into BD right now:

  • Fiscal year end is right around the corner and if you aren’t positioning now to get money it may be too late
  • Your competitors BD staff is still meeting with decision makers and you’re not because you no longer have someone focused on BD – they know what’s coming down the pike, what most likely will be funded and what the focus for year-end money will be…do you?
  • Your competition understands BD – it’s an investment in future business and based on the market and fiscal capabilities determines when these deals close but if no one is moving those deals forward or identifying new deals they will never close and revenue is bound to drop.  We’ve seen $30 M contractors who haven’t closed a deal in years because they simply respond to RFP’s once they hit the street, this used to be an effective strategy but it’s no longer viable if you want to grow or even maintain as re-competes and protests are shrinking your existing business.
  • Small business right now in the government market should be thriving.  I’ve seen a number of small businesses winning large new projects, adding people to existing contracts and growing at a time when the big boys are tightening their belts.  What differentiates these companies – a massive focus on business development.  They’ve made the investment in one of two ways:
    • Infrastructure – CFO/COO so the CEO can focus on BD
    • Hiring full time business development at a high level
    • Engaging BD on an outsourced basis which we highly recommend by the way
    • Those that are winning aren’t just collecting contract vehicles, they are diving deep.  Having a contract vehicle is simply a hunting license, there is no guarantee one penny will come your way.  Your BD efforts need to be focused on winning task orders in those customers who’ve recognized you as a winner already.  Dive deep and stop the surface wins.  If you have a laundry list of contract vehicles but only $10M in revenue you are not taking advantage of the amazing opportunities you have.
    • Finally just because you fulfill a set aside doesn’t mean you’ll get business.  I get it, you spent a lot of time and effort to get those set asides lined up but again you’re still a dime a dozen.  That doesn’t always sit well with some people but you have to understand there are thousands of companies that fill set asides – if you can’t differentiate yourself it all was a waste of time.  You still have a job to do – reply to sources sought, market yourself as an excellent provider with a set aside being a bonus, meeting with decision makers, meeting with teaming partners.  Again these set asides are simply hunting licenses, you still need a focus on business development to see the benefits of the effort.  The 8A’s, woman owned, HUBZone, veteran owned firms who have invested in business development and infrastructure are thriving, they are go-to partners for teaming and are winning full and open (before they graduate from the 8A program).  They understand that from the day they earn that certification they need to plan for the day they don’t need to use it.  If you’re solely gaining business because of you fill a set aside and no other reason you are set up to fail in the long run.

Sequestration will cause a shake-up in the contractor marketplace, you’ll see some fail and you’ll see others grow.  You have a choice – to believe in the inevitable doom of the marketplace, withdraw and ultimately shrink slowly and painfully or seize the opportunity.  Those that grow see sequestration as a huge opportunity and invest to ensure that opportunity isn’t lost.  It’s your choice.

 

If you think outsourcing BD efforts might be an option let us know.  Our consultants have a minimum of 20 years experience in the agencies in which they work, they are well respected, consistently close business and we’re roughly 30-60% of the cost of hiring full time.  Email Karin if you’d like more information at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com

FAQ’s What if I need help with strategy?

Answering your questions, have one – email me directly at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com

Do you help with strategy?

Yes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called in to simply strategize.  Essentially these are companies who have sales staff who are looking for new, fresh ideas to move sales forward.  I love this part of our work and I do it personally.  There is nothing I enjoy more than figuring out the puzzle piece.  I can see opportunity where you can’t, I can help you get there without doing it for you.  This works exceptionally well with sole proprietors or small sales teams.  We focus on overall strategy, target markets, how and where to find decision makers, what influences them, your unique capabilities, why people buy from you, your process, your presentation, your competition, your strategic partner, etc.  Most importantly we focus on what’s holding you back.  I’m not a coach by any means but I do know sales and I find with most business owners sales is an afterthought .  If you need a business coach I know great ones and will be happy to make a referral.

The initial month of sales strategy and consulting is a full scale evaluation of the entire sales process and it’s a minimum of $2500, each following month is a minimum of $1000.  If you think this is a better fit call the office and ask for Karin at 410-832-7560

FAQ’s Team Poaching

Answering your questions – have one, email me directly at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com

Can I HIRE your consultant on a full time basis?

Typically the answer is no.  Our consultants are not out of work in house business developers passing time until a full time gig shows up – they chose the consulting world many years ago.  For some it’s been over 30 years and for most it’s closer to 5-10 years they’ve been on their own.  We aren’t good employees because we won’t allow you to manage us.  Part of what makes us successful as consultants is the ability to challenge your beliefs of how things are done.  We’ve had to evolve as business has changed and we continue to evolve as we deal with more unique challenges like sequestration and global competition.  Consider us a resource and a partner but not a recruiting firm.

FAQ’s When do we need you?

Answering more of your questions-

When Do you NEED me?

Again it depends.  Just because we have relationships with these decision makers doesn’t mean that when we walk in the door they say “oh thank God you’re here and you brought me another vendor!”.  It’s still a process and they may not need your services so we need to do our due diligence.  Initially it’s networking and seeing how your message is received, it’s market research – what is and is not coming down the pike that may be of interest to you,  it’s creating partners that can help us expand into other markets more easily, it’s direct conversations with potential prospects.  At this point it’s our job to identify who is and is not a prospect and this takes a little time.  Once we’ve had initial conversations with prospects and know a bit more about what they need, what they are currently doing, what the plan moving forward looks like, who the decision making team might be and what the budget may be if they know then we bring you in to discuss the technical aspects of the service.  From here on out this is a joint venture – we manage the communications and you handle any proposals or technical follow up.   Its our job to open the door for you and assist in the closing.

FAQ’s Your Card or Mine?

I’ve compiled a very long list of questions we receive everyday and it typically starts like this “So, how does this work?”.  Over the next week or so we’ll be answering those questions and I suggest if you have additional questions please email me directly at kschwartz@springboardbizdev.com, we’d love to answer them for you.

Question 1 –

Do you carry our business cards or yours?  Do you act as us or you with the prospect?

We’ve done both and we find that it’s actually easier if the prospect knows we’re from an outside firm.  They typically tell us more information as they aren’t concerned about us “selling” them and we can really play the consultant role in determining if they are the right fit for you.  As an outsourced business developer it’s imperative that we remain focused on the goal – creating long term happy client relationships and that means being able and committed to walking away from deals that don’t work.  The prospect doesn’t really care if we show up as you or as us, what they care about is how we treat them.

Regardless of who we show us as we are representing you and the prospect knows why we’re there.  They usually ask how we work and what our relationship is to you.   We explain that we’re working with you to focus on business development and finding right fit clients while you continue to grow your business.  They know once we have determined a good fit you will come in as the expert.  They appreciate your dedication to your client base and they respect your efficiency in hiring a sales team.