Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I just hit the wall ...again.
I had out-networked myself. I was exhausted. I'd signed up for one too many events. Even though it was too late to get a refund, I blew off the $45 registration fee I'd paid for that final Friday lunch.
I didn't want to be literally a card-carrying zombie, trading pieces of paper with people. I had no ability to be fully present with any other human being. I was in no shape -- mentally, energetically, spiritually, or even physically -- to be meeting anyone. And I was certainly incapable of making a friend of someone new or being a friend to anyone I knew.
I went home instead.
Back in 1974, my mom made me a beautiful campfire blanket. It's a big navy blue wool felt poncho lined with warm plaid plush, half covered with my Girl Guide badges, and half decked out with dozens of camp patches I traded from troops and groups all over North America.
I pulled it out recently and was suddenly shocked to realize how many years I had "networked" -- well over three decades -- but missed the best part. If I had been paying attention, that blanket might represent a universe of vibrant friendships. I took a long time to learn the lesson.
And I still have to practice.
Sure, I ask myself, "Where does business comes from if not from being out there marketing?"
But how can anything positive develop from wandering around like a zombie?
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
America evidently wants change -- and that could mean business for you, as post-election giddiness has faded fast to focus government leaders on the pile of urgent priorities.
Good news: you don’t have to be a corporate giant to win government contracts. If you run a healthy business and are already selling successfully, government buyers could represent an untapped market. Imagine finding new clients in places your competitors aren’t even looking! If reliable new customers are important to you, a small investment in learning how US government buys can bring you new business.
Pursuing those opportunities could bring your company long term growth...or waste valuable corporate resources. Five tips suggest whether you’re ready to take on the world’s biggest buyer.
- Strong Performance Today & Determination For Tomorrow.
Successful suppliers realize the investment they’ll need to make in order to pursue, win, and perform government business. You never hear them say, “Sure, we’d open an office and expand if we won a big contract. Government customers want reliable suppliers with established track records Some contracts explicitly require vendors to show a couple years’ commercial track record in order to be considered.
- A Unique Value Proposition – for Government.
Successful vendors have researched exactly which government buyers benefit most from what they offer, and craft their marketing campaign precisely to reach those buyers. They create online content and literature to focus on issues and challenges that government buyers face. They can articulate in the buyers’ language how their offering stands apart from the alternative options the buyers have.
- Relationship Mastery.
Successful vendors know that when you sell to government, you’re not selling to a process or an order machine. Government buyers do business with people they know and like and trust, people who understand their needs exquisitely well – even when they have to follow complicated rules to do that. Winners have genuine passion for helping their clients solve problems. They build their own formal networks, like creating a corporate board of advisers that includes former government employees. They are active contributors to industry networks. And they are alert to the casual perfect connection that a friend or neighbor can bring.
- Focus on the Details.
While relationships are essential to attract the business, governments operate under complex rules that vendors must know. Companies who hold government contracts – whether as a prime contractor or a subcontractor – must be aware of and comply with dozens of precise requirements. Non-compliance can bring instant death to a proposal you spent thousands of dollars and weeks of time to prepare. Government contracts carry legal obligations that can include workplace regulations and contract administration as well as product specifications or service performance standards.
- Get Some Know-Who, not Just Know-How!
Spend smart, but don't skimp. Winners seek top insider connections and know the value of specialized help. Successful contractors engage experts and invest in market research to develop cost-effective government marketing strategies. They’re visiting the perfect prospects – and shaping requirements -- long before contract notices are posted online. They know how they’re superior to their competitors in every way. They shop around and check references to hire the best insider experts they can: people who can help them target the best opportunities, connect them with the right partners and buyers, and plan for critical marketing activities and expenses.
Find out more! Contact Judy Bradt at (703) 627 1074.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Meet Marissa Levin,CEO of Information Experts in Virginia, award-winning provider of strategic communications services since 1995. Her company's flagship government contract, with the Office of Personnel Management, is worth over $6 million.
- Tough Times Spurred Federal Pursuit: "After 9/11 we nearly went out of business," she said. "So we turned to the business in our own backyard," and started to pursue government contracts.
- First Contract: Was surprisingly fast: "We were invited to 2 EPA task order competitions for creative work...because we had strong commercial experience." EPA was also looking for qualified 8(a) companies. But steady profit required time and money.
- Market Entry Investment: Nearly 2 years and well over $200,000. On what? "We got on several GSA Schedules; built strong partnerships with large integrators; did a lot of marketing, including to many 8(a) shows produced by FBC and ones sponsored by the agencies."
- Key To The $6 Million Contract: Relationships. "The relationships I formed, and the due diligence I did to get to know them and demonstrate our capabilities, and the research I did with the draft RFP’s, did a tremendous amount to develop the level of comfort and trust that the Office of Personnel Management had with us."
- Biggest Challenge: Financing. "From the day you win, you have to start executing! But you then have to bankroll your employees for 60 to 90 days," before you might get your first payment. Without financing, that large contract could put you out of business! "My living room had no furniture in it, but I had this contract!"
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
- Research SAIC, and find out what part of the company you want to do business with
- Come with a specific opportunity in mind
- Present a business case on how you can contribute to winning that specific opportunity.
He recommended starting by registering on SAIC's small business portal, and taking advantage of the access points of contact there.
But in real life, how easy is it to get in the door? Got a happy story, or a horror show? Tell all. I've been reporting what the primes say...what's the most effective thing you've done to actually become a teaming partner with these guys?
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Can you supply staffing services to state and local governments?
Patty De Dominic thinks so. Serving those clients built her staffing services company to over $200 million, to become the tenth-largest employer in California. She sold her multi-million dollar business after the LA Business Journal named her, in 2006, the CEO of the Year.
I asked her, "What advice would you give someone who wants to win government contracts?" She said,
- Make sure you have a good product or service to offer.
- Look for ways to differential yourself in an arena that the buyer already knows they need then prove your worth.
- Empower the people who give your organization the strength and depth it needs to serve big and demanding clients well.
- Under promise and over deliver.
- Develop time management skills, so you can prioritize and do the most important things first.
Her next project is a book, and she invites your stories via her blog at http://www.thenewnewworldofwork.com/. Check it out and get yourself some visibility in her book.
She also coaches high achievers at DeDominic & Associates, http://www.dedominic.com/. Capitalize on her 27 years of experience; she's eager to share what she knows. The first coaching session free. Contact Patty via Patty@dedominic.com.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Hurricane Gustav is poised to create a serious natural disaster that will generate huge urgent needs for supplies and services, both immediately and in the weeks and months that follow.
Who is going to win that business to help, where, and how?
I'm in business to to help qualified vendors, even those without experience, connect faster with suppliers who need you. So here are THREE FREE RESOURCES to help you do that right now:
- 2008 Disaster Response Tips: Ready for Hurricane Gustav -- New White Paper
- Be A Top DisasterResponse Contractor -- Competitive Intelligence from Hurricane Katrina
- Success Stories: Supplying Emergency Shelter and Meals
Here are the details:
- Save hours of time!Get tips on Hurricane Gustav disaster response contracting by downloading this five-page summary from http://www.summitinsight.com/blogviewd.asp?id=96. Includes:
- Links to Disaster Response Action/Status reports
- Where disaster relief centers are being set up
- Which government agencies are doing what
- Supplier Registration sites
- Success Tips
- Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina Response in 2005. Emergency supply needs and major prime contractors will be similar this time!
- Top disaster response contractors in 2005 -- those winners may become big suppliers now.
- Vendor keys to success from the Hurricane Katrina response in 2005
- What products and services buyers needed after Hurricane Katrina, and how much
In short, you have a good chance to meet these urgent needs if you already have:
If not...find out what you need to know HERE.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Here's 90 seconds of wisdom from Ken Hildebrand, Supplier Diversity Manager at Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia.
You'll find out:
Monday, July 28, 2008
HINT: Being a veteran-owned small business, or a small disadvantaged business, or any kind of small business, isn't a capability. It's a differentiator...and not a particularly strong one at that.
To sum up: Come with
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
That perspective came from my ten days as pilot of a small airplane across America from Portland over the Rockies and back to Washington DC. Each day began with a serious go / no-go decision: "Is this weather safe enough to put myself into the air today?"
Everything else kinda pales by comparison (see the whole story -- I was the official blogger for our group of six travelers in 3 planes). We were pilots on an adventure, but often felt the pressure of resources -- mostly time -- running low. A poor decision would have been literally a matter of life and death.
My business brain noticed that our group's daily "go / no-go" was often fraught with tension. Some mornings we spent HOURS poring over weather data...so as not to have rain pouring over us. The whole process -- critical though it was -- could have been more productive and left us more time to enjoy the inevitable delays. How? If we'd agreed on a decision-making process and "go" criteria among pilots with quite different risk thresholds.
When you're ready for your next government contract adventure...I'm here to help you find the right time to launch in conditions that match your skills and risk threshold, get to your destination safely...and enjoy the ride, too.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Helping Hands That Open Federal Contracting Doors
Once you've figured out which departments and agencies might be your buyers (oh, not sure about that? Start by cruising http://www.usa.gov/), you need to get ready to meet the people who can help you.
The five people you need to know when you want to win government contracts affect what doors you can get through, how they can buy from you, who introduces you (which affects how much initial credibility you have), why they try you, and when they want you.
The Five People You Need To Know
• The Small Business Specialist (at the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization -- OSDBU)
• The Contracting Officer
• The Program Manager
• The Influencer
• The End User
The better you prepare -- know what they care about, and what they can do for you -- the more they're likely to help you. Will planned procurements happen? Will they be set-aside for small business? What are new requirements likely to be? When are pre-proposal conferences?
Who are these people? What doors do they guard? What do they care about, and what is the key that will open their doors to you?
Download a free short article now!
Monday, May 12, 2008
Field Notes from Top Businesswoman in Government Contracts
Congratulations to Marilyn Edelson of OnTrack Coaching -- she just won her first government contract! She provides executive coaching, especially for top IT professionals.
I asked how she did it, and she was glad to share these keys to success!
Marilyn admires her government clients, and is proud to help them. "These are real people who work incredibly long hours, doing yeoman's work for our government-- that is, for us! I am amazed at their diligence and dedication, and communicating that genuine admiration never hurts in winning business!"
1. Define the Signs
What are symptoms of the problem you solve?
"A re-organization or turnover in key personnel -- especially if the position would be vacant for a while -- usually suggests the organization will be struggling with the kind of issues we're really good at easing such as change management."
2. Research for the Need!
Marilyn constantly scans industry news for people with those symptoms.
"Sure enough, we noticed a government agency that had that kind of change. Then we researched the specific challenges they were facing."
3. Know Who You Know
How strong is your database? Among your current and past clients, personal and business contacts, is probably someone who can open a door to the person you need to meet.
"My business partner had done a contract for someone else in that agency. He made the introduction and set up the meeting. The trusted relationship and track record gave us a hearing...but we had to be prepared and offer the specific value they needed at that time."
4. Offer Something Easy To Try.
Know the purchasing thresholds and offer some small-scale options for people to try you out. "When they had a group of senior decision-makers at the first meeting, we knew we'd identified a need, and we were ready with ideas. I told them about an analysis tool we could use, and they were thrilled. We also let them know we could offer our services as a 'pilot' project which lowered their risk."
5. Nurture the Right Relationships
...to Move the Contract Forward Once Agreement Has Been Reached
"We knew they were serious but were fortunate enough to work with a Contracting Officer who moved our contract forward with lightening speed. I grew to have a genuine liking for this person as well as for the executive who sponsored us.
Friday, May 02, 2008
Once you've figured out which departments and agencies might be your buyers (oh, not sure about that? Start by cruising http://www.usa.gov/), you need to get ready to meet the people who can help you:
- The OSDBU Officer
- The Contracting Officer
- The Program Manager
- The End User
- The Prime
Find out more -- download the newest free presentation, The Five People You Need To Meet, in the series "Take Five : Government Contracts Made Easier".
Monday, April 28, 2008
Lillian Magero, Small Business Liaison Officer at IBM, tells small businesses the best ways to open the door to partnerships for with her company for business with the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Federal aviation Administration, USAID, Justice, and agencies with National Security needs. This top systems integrator often teams with small businesses who take a LEAD role and IBM subcontracts to THEM! Lillian tells what she means about "doing your homework" before a teaming meeting.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
...at the OSDBU show, tells Judy Bradt the top misunderstandings he sees small businesses have about teaming. Watch, and now you can avoid these common errors!
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
It's here! The first in my new series, "Take Five" --
A handful of tips
that give you a grip
on the critical things
that can make you trip
when you want to win government sales!
The first topic: National Guard & '09 Business...
Next Topics...driven by YOU! Tell me your top questions...and I'll answer them.
You'll find the free highlights on this blog -- and details on my Solutions Download -- in pdf and, coming soon, podcast.