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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

4 trends driving today's market

When the folks at the Association of Proposal Management Professionals asked me to talk about trends in the market, they gave me a set of questions to think about that covered things such as major changes in the market, sequestration and small business opportunities.

The format was a fireside chat at their annual conference in Atlanta, and my fellow fireside chatter was Beth Wingate, 2013 CEO of the association and managing director of Lohfeld Consulting. I feel like I’ve known Beth forever, so I had a good comfort level to talk about trends in the market in front a few hundred people.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we talked about, and what I see happening.

Changes in the Market

There are several items that could go into this bucket, but the top one for me has been the frantic pace of the market. Response times are shorter, the rate of change is quicker, but at the same time, there are more delays of work. So, there is uncertainty and a frantic pace. That’s a tough market to operate in.

I also include on my big changes list the rise of IDIQ contracts. These task order contracts are the dominant vehicle in the market, and have powered the more frantic pace. The combination of the pace, as well as the contract vehicles to support it, have pushed companies to develop more solutions allowing them to go to multiple customers with the technologies, processes and teammates in place to solve a problem.

Another major change has been the evolution of value-added resellers. A few years ago, I would have predicted they were going to disappear, but they haven’t. They’ve just changed. Gone for the most part are the order takers selling out of a vast catalogue of products. Instead, you see resellers developing more specific relationships with technology vendors, and going to market as the experts in those technologies.

Personalities for Success

I thought this was a great question to ask because I talk to a lot of senior executives, and I marvel at the range of personality types, from the gregarious and outgoing to the stoic ice kings or queens.

I don’t think a single personality dictates success, but a few common threads I see among these leaders are a tendency to try to hire people smarter than they are. They also trust the people that work for them.

And as clichéd as it might sound, they also are honest and transparent with how they deal with people. That kind of personality trait translates through an organization and is reflected in how they deal with customers and partners.

Sequestration Impact

That’s the big question these days, and I don’t really have a good answer. There have been pockets of impact here and there. Lots of delays of contracts, but nothing catastrophic on a grand scale. Of course, if it is your company getting a contract cancelled, that can be very bad.

It seems we are seeing minimal impact so far, but many are telling me the real impact will be in 2014. Congress and the White House aren’t making it any easier. Not only are they expected to battle over appropriations, but the three budget proposals ignore sequestration and don’t meet its caps.

Landing the Big One

Whether it is the pace of procurements, the uncertainty around sequestration or just budget cuts in general, there really is only one thing companies can do to mitigate those risk factors – talk to customers. Understand their pain points, present solutions to problems, be a trusted partner.

In other words, the basics of blocking and tackling have never been more important.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on May 31, 2013 at 9:50 AM

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