Five Tips for a Successful Selling Season
August 19, 2015 Leave a comment
by Steve Charles, Co-founder
Every year around this time I’m approached by technology companies looking for quick tips on how to make their September successful. I start off by saying that in a typical government fiscal year, we see the feds spending about a third of their budgets in the last quarter. However, the steps for completing the acquisition packages began six to nine months ago.
As we wind down to the last week or two of the year, program managers pick and choose purchase requests like puzzle pieces to get to zero by midnight, September 30. So, to make sure you’re in the mix at the 11th hour, make sure to ask your government customer one critical question: is the right amount of money in the right account?
Why do we ask our customers this basic question? Because once a program has 1) conducted market research, 2) defined requirements, and 3) settled on the basis for selection, verifying that the right amount of money is in the right account is the last step before a contracting officer can obligate the funds.
Here are five quick tips to maximize your sales efforts before the end of the fiscal year:
- Stay open late
Remember, the government operates in every time zone, so don’t overlook offices in Hawaii, which are open after 11:00 p.m. EDT. Those customers will appreciate that you’re willing to accommodate them with updated quotes and order acknowledgments.
- Synchronize sales activities
Be certain that when you suggest a specific contract vehicle to a customer, everything lines up with the four steps in the included diagram above and that your quotes are consistent with the items, prices, and contract terms of that particular vehicle.
- Double-check paperwork
Contracting officers have more purchase requests than time. They’ll process friction-free work first, so make sure any information requests are responded to precisely and perfectly. Review formatting and content multiple times with several people before sending.
- Be creative
Help your customers obligate those still-available 2015 dollars with cost-cutting, project-finishing offers that address their requirements. Where dollars are tight, propose a monthly recurring revenue as-a-service subscription if you can. If this gets started in FY15, it can continue unabated under a Continuing Resolution (CR).
- Think ahead
Congress is planning to pass a CR after its August recess to continue operations after September 30 because it has given up on getting the appropriations bills completed on time. But remember, a CR only grants spending authority for a limited period of time, typically six weeks, so you can’t expect your government customer to buy as if they have their full appropriation. Start thinking now about first quarter “seed planting” and pipeline building activities!