Chances are, you’ve had at least one of these thoughts about business-to-government (B2G) sales:
The process is too complicated.
The sales cycle is too long.
There’s only a small chance of success.
Any of these might lead you to believe that the ROI on federal sales isn’t worth any investment in the vertical. But the truth is, selling to the federal government is much easier than you think, and quite a lot of technology businesses can and should be exploring B2G as a revenue stream. If what you’re offering is a cybersecurity, storage, or compute solution, and it’s scalable and technologically sound, your revenue totals should include at least 10% balance from federal sales.
And if you have a federal sales vertical already, making things bigger, better, and faster will have an enormous impact on revenue—and a more effective program could easily become your company’s biggest sales division.
So what’s the secret to closing more deals with the government?
Follow these four practical strategies to up your chances of success.
- Hire salespeople with demonstrated success
When hiring, ask where candidates have been selling, and who they know. Knowing how to qualify candidates during the first pass is critical. For instance, semi-retired government employees may claim they’ll help, but the reality is, they may not have ever sold anything in their career, and they may not have any experience on the buy-side of the equation, since that function is handled by a legally defined separate contracting function.
- Know where to sell
The federal government isn’t one large, united entity. If you’re selling to the Department of Defense (DoD), it’s very different from the intelligence community as well as civilian agencies. Every department or division is its own big sandbox, so half the battle is figuring out where your solution best fits.
When you have an addressable market with greater purchasing power than the global Fortune 25, you need to pinpoint areas to take your solution. Instead of pitching 1,800 different organizations, it would be better to know if one research lab within the DoD is looking for your exact solution. Of course, this requires some research, including listening to talks and lectures by key personnel. (Quick tip: a lot are accessible online.)
- Do your homework on the procurement process
Obviously, you need to know the rules if you want to make the right moves. The ecosystem of government sales is complex, and not understanding the procurement process or the latest developments results in money wasted.
Let’s revisit the biggest misconception people have about federal sales: the need to get on a GSA schedule.
Nowadays, GSAs aren’t used nearly as much as they used to be, and there are dozens of other options for government-wide acquisition contract (GWAC) vehicles, which establish long-term government contracts with commercial firms. Make sure you know all the options before you make any decisions.
Entering the largest market in the world will require you to invest more resources. There’s no such thing as launching a go-to-market function for free in any sales vertical, let alone something so complex as the government. Drumming up new demand for your company will take effort. If it’s your first time out of the gate, don’t go at it alone. Consider retaining a Federal Government Sales Advisor to help you craft the right strategy, and identify the most impactful investments that you can make.