Why Government Contractors are failing in attempts to enter the commercial market

Government Contractors pursuing the Commercial Market in a sloppy manner

Contemplating a move into the commercial market?  Make sure you do it right, learn from these mistakes.  Sadly we’re seeing them over and over with wildly successful government contractors looking to counter the inevitable drop in government projects due to sequestration by entering the commercial market targeting large financials, pharma, healthcare, etc.  The issue is they just aren’t approaching the market correctly and here’s why –

Government contractors attempting to move into the commercial market expecting to have companies drop multi-million dollar projects in their laps due to their past government performance and attempting to manage the pipeline, presentation and proposal the same as they did with agency clients.  It’s not uncommon for these contractors to expect to have a thriving commercial practice within a year to 18 months and yet they are failing and can’t understand why.  Sadly the reason is arrogance.

Attempting to put an entire industry into your way of doing business and expecting them as your prospect to allow you to run the process as you see fit versus what works best for them is arrogant.  Expecting that your past performance in an environment that functions practically polar opposite of the commercial functionality of procurement and purchasing is arrogant.  Believing that you know how they work and what works best for them without due diligence and without analysis is arrogant.  Not accepting the trial programs the commercial prospects offer you to assess your capabilities because their too small and beneath you is arrogant.

Here’s the deal – the government market and the commercial market are two very different animals and if you don’t respect the nuances of business in both markets you will fail.  For the vast majority of businesses, you aren’t anything special; I know that’s hard to hear and it’s not meant as an insult.  There are hundreds if not thousands of companies who do what you do, really well and some are already in your desired target market winning and managing successful engagements.  You are the newbie and yet you act like you know it all.  The answer is to be humble, to understand you need to build trust the same as you did in the agencies so many years ago.  Be grateful when offered a pilot or trial program regardless of how small as it’s a win with that company and a chance to build performance in the new market.  Treat the market as it needs to be treated – it’s different than agencies – understand the process, respect the process and learn what’s important to each new buyer.  It’s best to have separate teams as it’s tough to transfer from one market to the other.  Most importantly expect a minimum of 3 years to gain consistent traction.  Treat this as an investment.  This market is a far cry from the market you entered in the government space 10 years ago, it’s not a free for all and you need to show your value and your expertise.  Arrogance will kill you in this market, if you plan to enter be strategic, be willing to learn, expect to fail and understand it’s an investment in amazing future growth – bring in experts who know the industry, who can talk the language and most importantly can bridge the gap that you’ve created by ignoring this market for so long.

Entering the market unprepared is like the business developer who claims his company’s people are smarter than those employed by the competition and their service is better.  You’ve done nothing to differentiate yourself and in fact you’ve told your prospect that you really don’t respect them.  I know it wasn’t your intention in face I’m sure it’s the exact opposite of your intention.  If you’re a software developer know why your clients use you and here’s a hint, it’s not service or smart people.  There are thousands of software developers in this country so what makes you special – is it the extensive knowledge of the industry you represent and the types of challenges you’ve been asked to tackle when others failed?  Is it how you hold your people accountable so jobs are finished on time and within budget?  Is it how you collaborate with the client to ensure ultimate business efficiency, effectiveness and results – results being the key here.  Maybe it’s that your practice is to proactively keep the client up to speed on the status of the project so you can address concerns in real time so as not to create unnecessary billable hours after the fact.  Do you think a prospect might find that appealing?

The fastest way to ensure you are viewed as a commodity and get into a cheapest price wins kind of deal is to associate yourself as the same as everyone else.  If you don’t know the answer to what makes you special this is your first task and I highly suggest you ask your current clients why they love you and if their answer is your price point – you have definite problems.  Before you enter a new market you need to know what is success to my new prospect, what makes them look like a hero so you can be their hero?  This is your business development angle, not that you’ve managed large successful programs for the feds because in the commercial market things get done faster, their systems are more up to date, they don’t look for butts in seats for an unlimited amount of time – this costs them shareholder value.  A company, nonprofit, hospital, regardless of size can’t just print money – you need to know what makes them tick before you enter the market.

We’d love to hear what you’ve done to differentiate yourself in the market and how it helped you to increase market share.

Business Development and the “New Normal”

Reduction of Full Time Business Development Staff (Government Contractors)

So many highly experienced and successful business developers have hit the street this past year – cut from long time employers over money, a perception that Business Development is overhead.  Yes Business Development can become overhead if not managed correctly.  Ultimately BD even in a tough market should be about lead generation, target research, needs analysis, moving the prospect through the pipeline to pre-close and ultimately proposal and closing.  Yes things are taking longer and yes, some government agencies have no money to spend right now but is cutting BD an effective tool right now?  The answer is…it depends.

Do you have a unique solution or a solution that we know is needed right now and can we go after year end money or upcoming projects?  Do you solve a pressing issue; do you eliminate butts in seats?  Are you a sub or a prime?  A number of questions need to be answered to know for sure what the correct answer is but in the end there’s really only one question to answer and for that you’ll need to read the entire blog!

Each agency is different as you well know; they have different budgets and different needs.  Efficiency is king right now so if you’re selling bodies business development can definitely be tough however it’s not impossible.  Being a sub is a challenge right now as large primes are removing subs from contracts to keep the seats for their own people.  Here’s what we know right now – the cuts are real, we have no agreed upon budget and haven’t for years and quite frankly no one really knows what’s going to happen.  Budget constraints are here to stay so I hate to put it like this but you simply need to get over it.  We’ve seen some amazing talent let go this past year and eventually, typically after 6 months of searching they find a new position at a lower salary, one that more accurately reflects today’s environment of lowest cost technically acceptable.  Be proactive – talk with your employees about the situation at hand – it’s not a surprise to anyone.  There is a choice – allow top talent to leave or work to restructure compensation so it fits the new normal.

Full time business development leaving companies is definitely an opportunity for us at Springboard however we feel that if business development isn’t taken seriously it’s not really an opportunity for anyone.  Some companies need full time BD at a high level while others can grow dramatically with outsourced support – it just depends on what fits.  While we tend to be 1/3-1/2 the cost of full time BD help we aren’t always the right fit, sometimes full time is needed – especially with very large firms.

Teaming…it’s not just for Contracts anymore :: Business Development Tips

At Springboard, we found many of our clients selling to government contractors who started to ask if we could help them.  But since business development in the commercial and government markets is such a vastly different processes, we originally said no.  That was until we created our Business Development Team.

We found that teaming isn’t just for our clients, but it was for us as well.  Our clients were asking for help in multiple agencies, multiple locations all of whom seemed to have events and projects due at the same time requiring our members to pick one versus the other.  As much as we would like to, we could not be in two places at once. Until now!

When we decided to try the team approach we realized we could be present in all our target markets at the same time with no additional cost to the client.

The Benefits of Springboard’s Business Development Team

At Springboard, we utilize leverage and agility to represent several companies at any one time on a part time basis in the market’s where you need us to be.  Because of our leveraged team approach we get more done in the span of a month than the overwhelming majority of full time business development professionals and at a fraction of the cost with greatly reduced risk to the organization.

So, is it possible to be all things to all people? In this case yes!

If you have any questions about Springboard’s Business Development Team, please contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the financial burden of an in-house business developer.

At Springboard we know sales!

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well!

Outsourced Business Development & Government Agencies

With today’s rocky economy and the average business development job coming in at around $175k plus taxes, benefits, and expenses, it is no wonder that we are seeing so many layoffs in business development with government contractors. Deals are taking longer to come to fruition, numerous re-competes and fewer opportunities equate to business development becoming disposable overhead.

Government agencies and bureaus need to look at additional options as well as how to help their existing staff be more successful.

The Answer: Outsourcing Business Development with firms like Springboard!

What government agencies used to spend on a single business development specialist can now be used to outsource 3-5 high-level business development experts. That is what we offer at Springboard. We know the more ears, eyes, and feet you have out in the marketplace the more opportunities we will find and you will win.

At Springboard, it’s not about one person, it’s about the team!

We have highly successful, experienced, well known business development professionals on our team.  They are out in the communities in which you serve everyday sourcing opportunities for Springboard clients.  They know who’s looking for what products and services and can bring your specialties to the attention of top decision makers.  These team members have crafted their skills and their databases over decades.

Let Springboard be your Business Development Team!

If you have any questions about Government Agencies Outsourcing Business Development, please contact Springboard Business Development by calling 410-832-7560 or click here today!

Located in Baltimore, Maryland, Springboard offers outsourced sales solutions for businesses in the professional services arena. Our approach to business development makes it easy to find new clients without the financial burden of an in-house business developer.

At Springboard we know sales!

Follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn as well!