As executives and other professionals across the government contracting market focus on maximizing year-end sales, they are also inundated with marketing pitches. Here are six ways to separate the hype from the help.
As the end of fiscal year approaches, every C-level executive, business development, sales and marketing professional are focused on maximizing year-end sales.
Starting in June and running through September, your email inbox starts filling up with all manner of offers from companies seeking to help you with your end-of-fiscal year sales, and perhaps help themselves to your marketing budget. Often these are from companies you’ve never heard using extreme hyperbole to promote their services.
Some are legit, some are less so, and some are simply scams. The offers will include a variety of events (you ABSOLUTELY need to attend this one…), email lists of “key” federal buyers, outsourced sales/marketing/BD, contract tracking and “business intelligence” services (is it me, or is this category proliferating?), appointment setting services and more. You can almost hear the “BUT WAIT, there’s more…”
How do you separate the wheat from the chaff, the legitimate offers from the scams?
Here are a few simple criteria you can use.
First: do you really need what they are selling? Is this something you need, or is it simply another shiny rock, a slick pitch with lots of superlatives.
Second: have you or your co-workers ever had contact with this company before? I have seasoned federal marketing people call me to vet event producers. If neither of us know them, the likelihood of the event being of significant value is minimal.
Third: who are the major providers in this space? If it is a real service category, there will be other occupants in some sort of discernable hierarchy. This applies to list providers, appointment setters, event producers, contract tracking and business intelligence services – for any service that impacts our market. If there is a legitimate niche, there are legitimate providers.
Fourth: Do they have a web site? If so, check it out. See if they list the company management. For me, one telltale sign of a scam is they don’t list the management team. Run a report from Alexa (www.alexa.com) to determine their web traffic.
Fifth: is the company on LinkedIn? If so, take a close look at them. If the management team is not on the company web site, you may be able to find them on LinkedIn. If so, are any of the senior company employees connected with people you know and trust? I have researched hundreds of companies on LinkedIn. If they claim an area of expertise in the government contracting arena, and the top employees are not connected to at least some of the true market influencers, I don’t view them as viable.
For example, some of the companies I have researched have key employees who were selling real estate three months ago – zero experience in GovCon.
Sixth: when all else fails, ask an industry expert you can trust. Most of them will respond to queries asking if they know a company. You may have to read between the lines if they don’t know you well enough for full candor, but the answer is probably there.
Bottom line: Don’t buy anything from sources you don’t know. This seems like common sense, but we all know how rare that is these days.