Strong Relationships: Foundation of Successful Business

By Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs

Social media has made it possible to connect with potential customers and partners from afar — without TSA close encounters, battling beltway traffic or even picking up the phone. The sales profession has changed immeasurably over the last decade or two, but one thing has not – the value of face-to-face communication in building and strengthening relationships.

As we count down the days until the 5th Annual Government IT Sales Summit, it reminds me why we started it in the first place – to bring our partners and suppliers together in a place where they can make the connections to grow their government business and turn potential into results.

In our industry, events have endured pendulum swings —  for instance, the demise and resurrection of AFITC— but one factor ensures that events will always play a role in business: the irreplaceable value of face-to-face communication. There is nothing quite like it.

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The Truth About Federal Year-End Money

Rita Walston - headshotcontinuing resolution, install base, federal government, budgetBy Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs

The federal government spends upwards of $90 billion every year on IT. By June, a surprising amount of the budget remains unspent and unobligated. And every year around this time, technology vendors hope to cash in on the year-end money the federal government must spend by the end of the fiscal year — September 30.

Is there anything that sales and marketing can do this late in the fiscal year to help bring in additional revenue?

Yes, says a panel of former government executives who debated this topic at the immixGroup Government IT Sales Summit last November — especially if your company has already done a good job building relationships with the customer and positioning your product or service.

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3 marketing tips for selling to government in 2018

By Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs

Marketing to the federal buyer is all about knowing the right timing, methods and rules. The key to this is knowing where each opportunity is in the procurement cycle, who the primary influencers are in each phase and what information is most useful to each group.

At this year’s Government IT Sales Summit, we gathered former top-level federal IT decision-makers to give us answers. During a session moderated by Lou Anne Brossman, founder and president of the Government Marketing University, panelists shed light on how to connect with government agency officials; how to plan and execute marketing campaigns when budgets are tight; how federal buyers consume marketing information before, during and after procurement; and how continuing resolutions, the “new norm” in Washington, impact the federal IT community.

Here are just a few of the tips gleaned from the discussion. To hear more from this session, listen to the on-demand recording:

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Here’s what you’ll get out of this year’s Summit sessions

government, sales, ITBy Rita Walston, senior director of marketing

This year’s Government IT Sales Summit will be a full day of rich, actionable content on Nov. 16. We’ll cover everything from how the public sector is spending IT dollars in FY18 to the latest trends in cloud, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. What makes this content come alive is our speakers, who hail from private industry and government.

We recently spoke to a few of them about their sessions. Here’s a teaser of what you’ll hear:

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Make crucial connections at this year’s Summit

Government IT Sales Summit

By Rita Walston, senior director, marketing programs

When business leaders talk about what contributes to their company’s success, they often point to the importance of strong relationships in their industry. In the government IT ecosystem, having strong connections with channel partners, tech suppliers and government end-users is crucial for growing revenue.

That’s why the theme for our 4th Annual Government IT Sales Summit is “Crucial Connections.” Taking place Nov. 16, 2017, in Reston, VA, this year’s Summit will help make those crucial connections between top solution providers, IT manufacturers, systems integrators and resellers.

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Are You Ready for This Year’s Government IT Sales Summit?

Rita Walston Headshot_63 x 85SummitVideo Promo

By Rita Walston, Senior Director, Public Sector Channel Marketing

Selling IT to the public sector has never been more challenging. So much is in flux—we’ve got new revenue streams created by XaaS; an incoming administration with a new agenda and staff; evolving procurement policies; and fast-moving, disruptive technology.

With so much at stake, we designed our 3rd annual signature event—the Government IT Sales Summit—to help lead attendees across these new Bridges of Growth. The Summit will give solution providers, IT manufacturers, systems integrators, and value-added resellers the tools and resources necessary for bridging the gaps to growth.

This year’s Summit will be held Thursday, November 17 in Reston, Virginia from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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A Cautionary Tale for Federal Marketers

Rita Walston_65x85Rita Walston, Senior Director, Client Marketing

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been apologizing a lot during the past few weeks, and the scandal that many say has seriously damaged, if not derailed, his political career should be a cautionary tale for those of us who market to the federal government.

The governor and his family accepted a number of high-value loans and gifts from those who do business or seek to do business in Virginia. In a statement and in a radio interview McDonnell said that he is “deeply sorry” and focused on “repairing any loss of trust that I have experienced with the citizens.” He also added that “I broke no laws…”

As far as anyone has been able to determine (so far), Bob McDonnell is correct that he hasn’t broken any laws. (Look for those laws to change in Virginia in the coming months.) But his actions and those of his family don’t pass the “smell test”—there is the appearance of impropriety. And that’s the cautionary tale that we who market to the feds need to take to heart.

The restrictions around marketing to the federal government are pretty clear, and anyone who works in this space for any length of time knows (or should know) the rules by heart. Most important of these is do not offer to a federal employee anything with a value of more than $20 at one time, or more than a cumulative $50 in any year. But we need to pay attention to the areas that some feel are “open to interpretation.” Here are a couple:

  • Raffles:  This is a complicated and confusing area with numerous opinions written on whether a government employee can claim a raffle prize. I consulted immixGroup legal counsel to ensure I was on point. The direction I received was:  “Raffles are, under the ethics regulations, excluded from the definition of a ‘gift.’ However, that does not necessarily mean federal employees can ultimately claim the prize. To do so, such raffles must be open to the public and the employee’s entrance to the contest cannot be required as part of his official duties. These requirements are questions of fact and the answers…are not always evident.” To my mind, there’s too much room here for a McDonnell scenario. My advice then and now is not to host a raffle as part of your federal marketing efforts.
  • Marketing to Federal Systems Integrators (FSIs):  Those working for systems integrators are not federal employees; technically the federal marketing restrictions don’t apply. However, a number of systems integrators require their employees who are working on a government contract to abide by the same rules. So while there is more latitude regarding FSIs, consider appearances as well as the letter of the law when planning your marketing efforts.

I wish Bob McDonnell all the best in repairing his reputation and regaining the public trust. As I reinforce when working on marketing plans with immixGroup clients and partners, attention to the spirit of the law rather than just the letter of the law goes a long way toward preventing bad headlines.

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