All signs point to another great buying season for the federal government in 2016. Thankfully, the typical “election year paralysis” has not surfaced as a factor in deterring spending or purchasing activity to date. This means that activity is high and many programs are funded, moving forward for award prior to the end of the federal fiscal year on September 30.
While we are in the midst of the season, it’s easy to keep our heads down and try to keep up with the flow of activity. However, we must keep top of mind that while the demands on our sales organizations will be dynamic, we need to convert activity into productivity. How can you do this?
Here are my three best practices for Comstor partners to utilize within their sales organizations to convert activity into productivity:
- Know When Contracting Officers Are Using You For Their Work
Contracting officers are overloaded this time of year. Most are not technical and are trying to get as much awarded as they can in a very short period of time. When you hear the terms market research, government cost estimate, budget planning or anything else other then a competitive quote earmarked for an award……BEWARE. The contracting officer is probably using you for help because you are responsive versus allowing you to actually quote for a real awardable opportunity.
- Make Sure To Ask Meaningful Questions As You Take On Quoting Activities For Contracting Officers.
Knowledge is power. When you suspect that you are being utilized for doing their work, start asking questions. Lots of questions. Is this opportunity funded? When do you plan to actually complete this opportunity? How do you plan to complete this opportunity? Where did the content of bill of materials come from for this quote? The more we know about the background of why they are asking you for help and when this activity will be turned into an actual winnable competition, the more likely we will win the opportunity and convert the support we have given the government in the pre-competition cycle into a win.
- Understand All Aspects Of The Acquisition Cycle And Process Not Just The Quoting.
How many more steps until an award is made? What is the total number of activities or contracting actions needed to make an award? When/how will our market research for the government turn into an award? We need to make sure that we understand all of the steps in the award process to best position us for an award. The more we understand the time frames for the competition, the higher our probability of a win will be. We also should use this understanding to influence the contracting officer to compete this opportunity on our vehicle of choice, especially if that helps the contracting officer more rapidly get the required competition needed to make an award.
So, net-net, how do we win more in September?
Understand when the work you are being asked to support is not truly an awardable activity. Ask a lot of questions to understand contextually how the work you are being asked to do will become an awardable opportunity. Communicate aggressively to fully understand the tactical competitive aspects of the acquisition cycle.