There are two important factors shaping your federal IT market right now. The first is based on discussions with several contractors who can’t understand why their businesses aren’t growing. The second reveals what may be on your customers’ mind. Both are important to understand, and be prepared to address, in order to be successful right now.
Intelligence: More companies than you’d think approach federal business with no firm idea of which agencies might be the best matches for their solutions, whether those agencies have money for those solutions, and if they do, how those agencies will procure the solutions. It is mind-blowing, but true, that countless companies approach a conservative federal market with a piecemeal approach based on the presumption that “We have the best widget, and the feds don’t even know they need it.”
Right. They don’t. They haven’t planned for it, haven’t budgeted for it and have other things in the queue to purchase. Your new solution is viewed as a “risk.” Most feds don’t want to be the first to try the “new toy,” especially if they’re expecting new bosses soon. Your solution may save time and money, but, unless you can show how it actually fits within their current overall IT and acquisition frameworks, you’ll face an uphill battle.
The bottom line is to invest at least some resources into market intelligence. Your firm will have a more targeted approach, spend less time spinning its wheels, and close more business. On those occasions where you meet a customer who is ready to take a chance on something else, you’ll already have established a relationship that lowers their risk and gives them a reason to trust you with something new.
Fear Factor: A recent Federal News Radio poll found that 77% of federal agency respondents believe that budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration for civilian agencies already have had a “significant or moderate” impact on morale. University of Maryland professor Paul Hanges commented that the survey results indicate that feds run the risk of “…becoming more narrow-minded in their approach to their work. They’re less creative, they tend not to take risks … we see that productivity starts to drop early on.” This is the case even before cuts are made and can have much the same effect even if proposed cuts end up not being implemented.
It’s a big government, and not all federal customers are gun-shy. Still, the survey and analysis further support the premise that the current federal market is more risk averse than not. It also may be difficult for contractors to get the attention of their customers right now, if those customers are distracted about not just what the cuts could mean for them professionally, but also whether cuts could lead to RIF’s or furloughs that would have a personal impact.
When you are in front of federal customers, make sure they understand why your solution – and you – are reliable and cost effective. Remember that “state of the market” may have an edge over “state of the art.” Also emphasize just how easy it is to buy your solution and make sure you communicate your track record of federal market commitment.
Whether it’s the federal, state, or local government market, the companies that take the time to understand the current conditions of their target areas are the ones who have the best results. Make sure you understand the two current factors here and how your business can work with them and still succeed.