Fiscal Year-End Heralds a Whole New Era
August 2, 2012 Leave a comment
The end of the fiscal year is rapidly approaching. Even though the federal operating outlook may be murky, in this most political of political seasons, technology manufacturers actually face a time of remarkable change and opportunity.
It looks like an unusually tough season for those who sell to the federal government. A higher-than-normal degree of uncertainty hangs over the 2013 federal budget that combines with the practical effects of a barrage of policy initiatives still unfolding. In the short term, there’s unobligated 2012 money around. Agencies are also preparing 2014 budgets and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is asking for IT budgets at levels of 10% less than the average of FY2010-12 (M-12-13).
The election is driving everything the administration and Congress do. Congress won’t reach any 2013 compromises on the budget until the so-called lame duck session between the election and the start of the subsequent session. You’ll find the best clues to what 2013 will eventually hold IT budget-wise, in the priorities including: mobility and wireless, agile and fast development, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and shared services.
Here are a few best practices that technology manufacturers can follow to close out this fiscal and start preparing for the next:
- Help your customers obligate those still-available 2012 dollars with cost-cutting, project-finishing offers.
- Revisit 2013 budget documents agency-by-agency. The best opportunities for sales lie with strategic initiatives midway through development and have a good chance of continuance. Focus on those which have survived TechStat reviews aimed at killing off exceptionally late or over-budget projects.
- Re-read the cyber, shared, mobile, and digital government strategy documents. Prepare to map products pitches against them. Don’t do this as merely an end-of-fiscal rush strategy. Government IT buying is changing fundamentally and sales approaches developed now will remain relevant for years to come.
- In this complicated season, BD and sales people should schedule deep listening sessions with your most important customers and prospects. Simply hear them out on their plans and frustrations. Just this once, refrain from talking about your products and services. Plan to come away with fresh insight into challenges the government faces and use this information to plan your approaches to 2014.