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 firstname.lastname@example.org