Mark Amtower

OPINION

5 end-of-year tactics you must follow

As end of fiscal 2013 approaches in this strangest of strange years, I know I will get calls and emails as to what are the best end-of-the year marketing tactics. With sequestration and lowest price, technically acceptable contracts facing everyone, and strategic sourcing facing many others (remember, 15 more GSA Schedules will be targeted for SSI over the next 3 years), I will offer my clients what I feel are the best tactics for them in their respective niches.

However, the best tactic is one that often eludes even seasoned professionals. The best tactic is an educated staff, be they marketing, sales, business development, front line (on client site) or in executive suites. The more each person knows about five key areas, the more sales you will get.

Key area #1: The client being served. If your staff is not reading the OMBs 53s and 300s for their clients, you should at least offer a condensed version of key points. Further, monitoring the agency website for news and setting up a Google Alert program for ongoing news. Personnel changes should be noted and shared. If the client is a prime contractor or other business partner, the same should apply.

Overall market condition. In these turbulent times, this landscape can change quickly, especially as we approach a mid-term election that can radically alter the federal spending landscape. We can safely assume that Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will not replace Sen. Frank Lautenberg with a liberal Democrat. That alters the balance in the Senate immediately, well ahead of the mid-term elections. Understanding what is happening and how that can impact doing business with your current clients is critical. BD pro Bob Davis calls this environmental scanning.

Thorough knowledge of the products and services your company offers. Contrary to what common sense would dictate, this does not occur as often as it should. For companies with a broad spectrum of products and services, employees need to at least know those responsible for other products and services. A simple org chart so people can easily refer inquiries to the proper person or office can be critical for success. Think of it like a website where you can’t readily find what you are looking for. How long will you stay and frustrate yourself before moving on to a more user friendly venue?

Knowledge about the contracts you have, be they schedules, GWACs and IDIQs, or agency specific contracts. Knowing how the agency can buy and how they prefer to buy is where the rubber meets the road. Here a little education goes a really long way.

Continuing education for employees. This market is changing, more now than I have ever seen it in my 30 years of marketing to the government. The marketing landscape has gone through a major shift in the past three-four years; sales tactics have evolved and require deeper knowledge than ever before; business development professionals have many more options for research (paid and free) and need to understand which best suits your company. There are both good and bad venues for continuing professional education. Evaluate them based on the course provider and the instructors. – do not use untested sources.

In The Art of War Sun Tzu teaches to know the terrain, know the enemy, to gather intelligence, to pick your battles and to know your own strengths and weaknesses well: then, and only then, do you move ahead.

 

About the Author

Mark Amtower advises government contractors on all facets of business-to-government (B2G) marketing and leveraging LinkedIn.

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