What Sales Reps Can Do During the Government Shutdown

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

So, here we are, a week and a half after my last blog about the shutdown and half the civilian government is still shut down. By now you’ve likely heard the news that the Trump administration has made the decision to call about 50,000 federal workers back to work. The good news is, that means critical safety and security workers, like food and airplane inspectors, are back on the job. The bad news is, much like I mentioned in my last blog, many of them are doing more than one job with a lot of their colleagues still furloughed. And, they’re still not getting paid.

So, it’s likely you’re wondering what you can tell your bosses if you’re trying to sell into one of the agencies where workers are furloughed. First off, you need to let your boss know that your forecasted deals aren’t going to close right now because the contracting shops at these shut-down agencies are generally all non-essential personnel.

But just because your forecasted deals aren’t going to close doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can’t do. Reach out to your program manager customers (if they’re still working) and ask when they anticipate the deal moving forward once agencies get appropriations. Remember, things are piling up at federal agencies, so anticipate a bunch of pent-up demand once everyone gets back to work.

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How Vendors Can Deal With the Government Shutdown

Tom O'Keefe

By Tom O’Keefe, Consultant

Most of us have been surprised by the current partial government shutdown and how long it’s gone on. It’s on track to be one of the longest shutdowns in history, longer than 2013 (16 days) and getting very close to the 1995-96 shutdown (21 days), which it will pass by the end of this week.

Just because government is shut down doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck trying to sell into government. You just need to be aware that folks may be under greater than normal degrees of stress and maybe be overworked. That may mean they’re less likely to be in a position to take your call.

So, who’s working and who’s not? Well, for starters, we need to clarify the difference between essential and non-essential personnel. It’s pretty simple: essential personnel at affected agencies are working without pay, whereas non-essential personnel are furloughed at home. Essential personnel are ‘emergency’ personnel who are critical to safety or national security. The departments shut down include: USDA, DOC, DOJ, DHS, DOI, DOS, DOT, HUD, as well as major independents like NASA and the EPA, and a lot of smaller entities that probably don’t affect your sales.

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