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 Do you do SALES TRAINING?

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

Are you a Sales Training Organization?

No, we don’t do training.  In fact, I may piss off a few people by saying this but I believe for the most part the tactics taught in sales training organizations don’t work today.  I do believe they have a purpose – mostly for commodity or high volume sales organizations.  I can see a value there.  However when you are selling a service based on building and maintaining strong relationships tactics are the fastest way to lose business.  We’ve all been through these programs and we can spot the strategies from a mile away.  Do you know how bad I screw with someone who is “mirroring” me?  I spend the entire time focused on my next move and I don’t even hear what they are saying.

Your sales cycle is a fallacy.  You need to know where your buyer is in the process and ensure they have the right information necessary to move forward but you can’t make them move forward you can only encourage.  If you’re looking for a “trainer” I know a number who are excellent at what they do, they get results and they focus on the buyer, your internal processes, your people and not tactics.  I’d be happy to make an intro.

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 Can you terminate me?

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

 

Everyone always asks how they can get out of the contract if they need to but they forget to ask if we can terminate the contract and yes, turnabout is fair play.

Can I be terminated?

You sure can and unfortunately we’ve had to terminate clients in the past.  Our new Client Acceptance Protocol will hopefully eliminate the need to do this in the future however we have terminated several clients over the past few years.  Typically the reason we terminate is the behavior is detrimental to our ability to represent you properly and it runs the risk of damaging valuable relationships.  We have had to terminate for non-payment or excessive late payments but also insulting a decision maker, getting angry at a prospect in a meeting, lying to us, inappropriate behavior in meetings with decision makers.  You wouldn’t believe the stories if I told you.  Some things can be addressed and fixed but we’ve found that at this point behavior is pretty much set in stone and if we can’t trust your behavior in a meeting it’s best to terminate the relationship immediately.  We can’t in good conscious take your money if we can’t do a proper job for you.