Myths of Selling to Government

You Need to Coach the Coach, Sell what THEY need, How to Win When You’re Late to the Game

December 13, 2022 Rick Wimberly
Myths of Selling to Government
You Need to Coach the Coach, Sell what THEY need, How to Win When You’re Late to the Game
Show Notes Transcript

This episode of Myths of Selling to Government reviews the most popular episodes of the last twelve months. Interestingly enough, they represent a good cross section of the government selling lessons we teach. 

The most popular episode was a lesson on catching up when you're late to entering a quest to win a government contract. We offered five tips.  Go in asking, not pitching. Remember information objectives. Acknowledge competition.  Be genuine and upfront, even candid. Accept you're coming from behind, and be confident. We elaborate in the episode.

The second most popular was "One of the Biggest Mistakes in Winning Government Contracts".  Spoiler alert: the mistake is failing to understand the process your government prospect will use to actually make the purchase. It's not enough to convince the end users that you can help them; you've got to do more. We talk about how often we hear stories about this failure in our Government Selling Solutions ( consulting practice, and suggest solutions.

The third most popular was one of our favorites, "What Really Makes Salespeople Tick When Selling to Government". We replayed some of our interview with sales expert Dave Hanna who laid out his beliefs about what makes government salespeople successful. They may not be what you would think.

You Need to Coach the Coach, Sell what THEY need, How to Win When You’re Late to the Game

I was curious…maybe a bit bored. I wondered which of the Myths of Selling to Government podcast episodes were most popular in 2022. I created a complex algorithm so the earlier and latter episodes would get equal weighting. OK, it was simple math in a spreadsheet. 

Today, I’m going to review the top three episodes, thinking this look back might be helpful to you. Turns out the top three offer a nice perspective. One of the episodes speaks to the fundamentals of the type of people who can win in government sales. Another addresses one of the biggest and most common mistakes we see government salespeople make, and what to do about it. And, the top one offers tips when you’re not the first to the prospect.

The third most popular is a great starting point…whether you’re an individual performer or manager. It asks the most basic question, “What Really Makes Salespeople Tick When Selling to Government”. Good start, right? This episode featured one of the few guests I’ve had on this year. I’m very selective about who I interview for the podcast…but, am open to suggestions, by the way. This episode featured an interview with Dave Hanna, one of the best sales managers I’ve known. Dave was an easy pick. He’s probably managed over 300 salespeople and sales managers over the years. I was one of them.

N-in my mind <<in my mind, the best salespeople are the ones who put their customers needs before their own.>>

Q-in their customers more than themselves.

Dave says it’s all about selling them what they need, and not what you want to sell them. Ya know, when we did our study of top performing salespeople several years ago, this trait really stood out.

But, Dave told us that, really, the number one trait is integrity…

N-if you don’t have that, I can’t teach you.

Q- never lie under any circumstance

Case closed

Dave says competitiveness is another trait that makes good government salespeople tick. But, it’s not about beating someone else…

N-if that’s what you want to do (it’s easy to beat the competition)

Q- that’s easy to do.

Even so, Dave says that competitive streak is an important key…

N-in the middle of a sales cycle… <<strong competitors do a good job of figuring out what’s really going on, and adjusting>>

Q-what you need to do to get the next step

Another key, says Dave - confidence. You’re going to need it in the long government sales cycles…


Q-on a shorter sales cycle. <<on short cycle sales, you know how you’re doing because you can see the outcome pretty quickly. Not so with long sales-cycles. You’ve got to stay more in touch with what’s going on.>>

N-on a shorter sales cycle…

Q-more in touch with what’s going on.

There you have it, the “What Really Makes Salespeople Tick When Selling to Government” episode, featuring the great Dave Hanna.

Our second hottest episode was called “One of the Biggest Mistakes in Winning Government Contracts”.  We told a story…as we like to do, much to my wife’s chagrin… about a salesperson thinking it was going well in the sales process…even looking forward to the client review with the boss. After all, the client coach has been very helpful and told you that they’re moving forward and will buy soon.  Then, as my story went…

N-the boss says excellent <<You have a strong client coach, and they say they’re going to buy. Then, lo and behold, you find out it’s going out to bid, and the client coach didn’t know.>>

Q-helped write the specs.

As I said when I recorded the podcast, and will say it again, this is an all too common story. Good job getting a client coach who would convince folks up and down the chain to buy. Problem is, the coach may not understand the purchasing process…and it could be more complicated than they anticipated. So, what do you do, I asked…

N-Well, you become the coach…

Q- helpful if you know the process better than your coach.

Ah ha. I didn’t think about it when we were doing the episode, but since then, have in the works  an episode specifically on the fact that your selling process and their buying process are two different things. I’ve got just the guest in mind.

And, finally, the Myths of Selling to Government podcast episode that we found to be the most popular of the year - 5 Tips to Follow When You’re Not First to the Race for Winning a Government Contract. This episode came out just a few months ago, and is already one of the most downloaded. I guess a lot of people feel like they’re coming from behind…although we can really help you be first.

Regardless, you’re not always going to be there…as you obviously already know. Do you give up? Absolutely, positively not, we said in the episode. Here are the five tips…

Q-tailor their approach to the prospect. <<Go in asking questions, not pitching. Don’t lose sight of your information objectives. Acknowledge to the prospect that you realize they’re looking at other solutions. Be genuine and upfront, even candid. Accept the fact that you’re fighting from behind, and be confident.>>

In that podcast episode, we pointed out that you’re going to lose here and there, regardless of how much you listen to us…but, make it a loss that came after the right effort at the right time. Don’t count those blind RFPs you responded to as a loss. That’s not a loss. That’s just wasted time. Hardly a noble loss.

Ya know, that seems like a good place to end the episode looking back on the most popular Myths of Selling to Government episodes of the last year. It’s been a good year. Listenership is growing. The consulting and coaching business is healthy. We’re meeting lots of cool folks.  And we’re beginning to hear stories of an impact we’re having. Just heard one the other day about a sales team at a large company that makes discussing our episodes part of their sales meetings. Nice! Please stay in touch.