You can't go it alone when trying to win a government contract. The maze to win is complex, tricky and sometimes treacherous. In this episode of Myths of Selling to Government, host Rick Wimberly reveals the best help you can get to win.
The help may not come from where you might think, and it's difficult to find. There are important rules and best practices to follow, but finding this help is critical. No, we're not talking about hiring Government Selling Solutions as your help (but, we're available if you want to talk).
The Most Valuable Help You Can Get to Win a Government Contract
You don’t need me to tell you that navigating government purchasing mazes is complex, tricky, and sometimes treacherous. You know all of that.
If you’ve been selling to the government for a while, you know that you need help when you’re pursuing an opportunity. I’m going to talk today about the absolute best help you can get.
No, this isn’t a pitch for our coaching and consulting services…although it’s true that we may be able to help. We’re not talking about a great, groundbreaking marketing program…although one would be nice. We’re not talking about guidance from your manager…although some managers are very good at it, others not so much. And, we’re not talking about Wendy, that psychiatrist character on the TV show Billions who counsels salespeople when they’re in a slump…although that could be cool.
We’re talking about, by far, the most valuable help you can get when trying to win a government contract…your client coach. It’s hard for me to think back to a significant government deal I’ve won where I did not have a good client coach.
Your client coach is that person in the government organization who will walk beside you as you navigate the complexity and trickiness of winning a government contract. …the person who can provide information and, most importantly, insight into what’s really going on…the person who will give you both good news and bad.
Yet, finding that Coach is not easy. a thing of beauty…not at all. You’ve got to work at it. Here are a couple of tips:
One - Find out who in the organization is the most motivated to remove the pain or achieve the gain for the organization. It may not be the person at the top…in fact, it probably won’t be. You may not be able to identify that person by their title…in fact, you probably won’t be able to.Sometimes Coaches come from places least expected. Ask around. Someone somewhere may say to you, you know, you really should talk with so and so. She has a particular interest in this. If you do it right, the Coach will self-identify. Maybe she shows the most interest in the solution you have to offer.
Don’t expect procurement people to help you find a Coach. If the opportunity has reached Procurement, it’s too late to find a Coach anyway. And, if you find a good Coach, don’t be surprised if the coach disappears once the opportunity is in procurement. They probably will. Don’t go looking for them. They’re intentionally laying low.
Two - Support, support, support that Coach. The Coach needs solid, trustworthy information and insight from you. On a consistent basis...info that can’t be found on your web site. They need to get the truth at all times from you. If the answer is “no” and you can’t do something they say they want, then tell them no. It could bring up good conversation about better ideas for reaching the goal.
There are three things your Coach is not…
Your best friend. This is a business relationship and, while it may be a friendly business relationship, it’s still that, a business relationship. Don’t court this person, or even come close to rules about gifting, spending, etc. That’s not the way to find a Client Coach.
Not your secret agent. Don’t ask this person to give you any more information or insight than they would another vendor who had demonstrated their worth. Doing so is a good way to lose a Coach.
Not your double agent. Don’t expect your Coach to give you any information or insight about your competition. You shouldn’t be worrying about the competition anyway. Stay focused on what you can do to help their organization, and how you can help them do it. That’s what your Coach can do, help you understand what you can do for them…and how.
Some people like to call a coach a champion…but, don’t be naive to think you can depend on someone from the inside championing your solution. These folks are trying to do a job…and, it’s not their job to sell something for you. It’s their job to find the best solution for their organization, and hopefully they like what you’ve been telling them.
So, you found a good Coach, supported him, got good info and insight from him, and won the deal. What do you do to thank the Coach? Nope, no gifts…no fancy dinners…no job offers…nothing like that.
You know how to thank them? You do what you promised his organization you would do. You solve their problems..you relieve their pain. You do that, and you’re going to make your Coach look really, really good. People will notice, and your Coach will appreciate it.
…just like I appreciate you listening. This podcast is building some nice, new relationships for me…and I’m thankful. And, if you’re interested in getting some outside coaching on selling to government, get in touch. We love coaching. Heck, we’ll even coach you on finding a client coach.