Winning government contracts requires many things, but none is more important than listening. Yes, simply listening. In this episode of Myths of Selling to Government, government contracting consultant Rick Wimberly shares his thoughts about listening. He encourages listeners to avoid letting government procurement processes from getting in the way from really listening to identify problems and figure out whether they can solve the problems.
Listen carefully to this episode. It may be one of the shortest, but it may also be the most important episode you hear. It’s about listening.
Hello. Rick Wimberly again. First, thanks for listening to our Myths of Selling Government podcast. We hope it’s helpful and, by all means, reach out to us if you have any questions or suggestions for future episodes...even guests.
As promised, this is going to be a short episode...but an important one. The lesson is so important that I named a company after it. The company name, Galain. You may not know this word, but it’s a Native word for...listen. To me, listening is the key to…well, just about anything. You want to help someone solve a problem? Listen. You want to know what someone is really up to? Listen. You want to know how to sell something to the government? Listen.
There’s a myth of salespeople. You know it well. Everyone does. But, if you’ve had any success selling...particularly in the government sector...you know it’s just that, a myth. Those of us who have succeeded are not fast-talking, greedy and slick. Yes, we may like to talk... and we may like money (OK, we DO like money)...and, we may wear nice clothes...but, we’re not fast-talking, greedy and slick.
We’ve learned...sometimes the hard way...to become engaging, but mostly so we can hear...really hear...what other people are telling us so that we can figure out a way to help them…(and maybe we’ll get some money from them).
While listening is an important part of anything we do...and, granted even those of us who are pretty good at it, don’t always listen. Just ask my wife. But, listening is a key to our relationships.
No where is that more true than when trying to close a government contract...even though sometimes you feel like government procurement processes make “selling by listening” difficult. Pre-bid meetings, RFPs, contract vehicles, etc. all seem to be designed to water down your ability to unduly influence the buyer even when intentions are otherwise honorable.
There’s a tremendous amount of accountability in government buying. No one, not even the President or the Mayor, really has the ability to write a check without visibility and accountability. In order for the government to buy something, there’s a complex maze of things that must happen before checks are written. To some degree, this is to protect taxpayers’ money. But, if you think the maze is an obstacle you can’t navigate, think again.
Despite the challenge, you must get to the heart of buyers’ needs before you can figure out if you can help, then show THEM that you can help.
Here’s the main point we’d like to make in this episode. Don’t let the government bureaucracy get in the way of you being able to listen. The truth is, despite the government rig-a-ma-role, government folks want you to hear them. They need for you to hear them...so, you can help them. Use your information objectives, like the ones we’ve talked about in previous episodes. Listen...yes just listen…