Here’s when you should be talking to your SLED customers

Rachel EckertSLED, procurement, sales, public sectorBy Rachel Eckert, consultant

The new state, local, and education (SLED) fiscal year kicked off July 1 for most of the market, and with that governments began a new budget (assuming of course that the legislature passed it). A new budget means fresh money and hope for many in the IT industry about new opportunities.

If you’ve worked in the public sector, be that federal or SLED, you know that nothing in government is immediate. Turning opportunities into deals takes time and careful planning. Also, having an understanding of the government’s planning cycle can help ensure that you’re approaching decision makers with proposals at the right time.

Here is a rundown of their planning cycle and what your actions should be during each quarter:

  • Q1: July – September: Funding for approved projects is allocated and work begins. This is also when departments identify new or continuing IT projects for next year (starting the next July). Departments will begin developing proposals that will be incorporated into their budget plans.
    • Your strategy: Familiarize yourself with their current projects and how your solution can enhance their activities. Focus on setting meetings with stakeholders to propose new solutions.
  • Q2: October – December: The proposals make their way up the leadership ladder gaining the approval of senior leaders before being added to budget plans. Typically, agencies will submit their budgets to the budget office for review in late fall before there are reviewed and submitted to the governor for final submission. This means any new or continuing IT projects will need to have received leadership approval if they are to be included in the next year’s budget.
    • Your strategy: Conduct follow-up meetings with leadership to demonstrate the features of your solution and how it will fit within their current environment. Ensure your messaging and positioning resonates with their needs and challenges.
  • Q3: January – March: Departments will start to examine those approved IT projects and develop the corresponding project and funding plans. These plans are then submitted to the IT department for its evaluation and approval.
    • Your strategy: Work in collaboration with stakeholders from both the target department and the central IT department to develop the justification documents.
  • Q4: April – June: At this point, the department’s technology plans have been evaluated and hopefully approved by the IT department and can move forward with implementation. If the project includes some element of outside product or service, it’s usually at this point that procurement strategies will be evaluated.
    • Your strategy: Ensure your solution is procurement friendly by making sure it is available on contract(s) accessible to your stakeholders. Take price into account and provide flexible procurement options that aren’t capital intensive.

The key to a productive meeting is making sure you’re speaking to what they’re looking for. If you’re meeting with them in July and August, this is a perfect time to talk about new solutions. But, if you’re meeting with them in say May, then your conversation should be geared towards contracts and procurement strategies. Timing your campaigns to sync with their activities can be tricky but can pay dividends through richer engagement with government stakeholders.

Want to hear more about SLED opportunities? Register for immixGroup’s 4th Annual Government IT Sales Summit where Rachel will present her annual briefing on selling to SLED. Click here to learn more about this year’s Summit and to register.

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