Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Know Before You Go / No-Go

O'er Beautiful, Gracious Skies...Comes Big Perspective.

Last month, I got a stark reminder of why I encourage my clients to set criteria for key go / no-go decisions like whether to bid an opportunity, or whether to pursue government contracts at all. Decisions like that can make or break your business.

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

Take Five: The 5 People You Need to Meet

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?

Companies that sell to government – certainly in the United States – master more than process to succeed. Their sales depend on how well they know the people who make and influence the contract process. They never forget that they’re not selling to a process. They’re selling to people: people whose jobs depend, and are often buying for people whose lives depend, on choosing the best vendor who meets the requirement.

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?

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