Don’t look now, but the last quarter of the federal fiscal year is just
one month away. While there will likely
be the annual “race to the finish” in terms of available business, how you
pursue and close opportunities has undeniably changed. Here are three things to focus on now to make
sure your business in shape for the sprint:
1. Relationships Matter: Now, more than ever, good relationships
matter. It’s difficult to develop new
relationships virtually, especially when your customer is being pulled in
multiple directions at once. Whether
the relationship belongs to you or a partner, success this year-end will hinge
on making the most of established, available relationships. Remember, too, that your relationships with
other contractors are key. Use all of
your relationships to help stay focused, but also to look for opportunities
with those your relationships know.
2. Make It Easy To Buy From
You:A customer that is
working remotely, socially distancing, supporting critical missions quickly, participating
in “regular” agency meetings, and balancing kids out of school for the summer
has little time to initiate an open market buy. That’s why this year is likely to see an
increase in the use of existing IDIQ contracts like the GSA Schedule and similar
contracts. Also, small business
set-aside use will almost certainly accelerate.
Whether it’s your Schedule, your size status, or your ability to accept
a government purchase card, ease of access is key to closing the sale this
year. 3. Use Your Common Sense: Unscrupulous companies and people have
already contacted many contractors trying to use their contracts and
relationships to “sell” products and other solutions that they either don’t
have or are authorized to sell. The
lure of easy money can be very tempting, but remember that if something sounds
too good to be true, it likely is.
You’ve built a reputation and relationships over time that have made you
a successful company. Don’t let that all
evaporate by taking a shady deal from someone that vanishes as quickly as a
Redskins fourth quarter lead. Prepare
now for the end of fiscal year and you can take that vacation just as
everything opens back up.
What if they re-opened the office and nobody came? While things may not yet be that extreme, it
is becoming more and more obvious that widespread telework is here to stay. With it comes the need for contractors to be
able to master on-line teleconference and webinar platforms in order to market
and sell effectively. Comments from two federal Chief Information
Officers show that their workers are at least as productive when working at
home vs. the office. Agriculture CIO Gary Washington was quoted in Federal
Times recently saying, “We are preparing for a different kind of work
environment. “We will see what that is, but we have proven that it is possible
to support” telework on a larger scale.Contractor workforces will have to
become similarly productive. Being
able to deliver the same message and sense of urgency in a virtual setting that
has been delivered in person is essential.
Contractors should consider changing training and education plans
now to incorporate “virtual selling”.
This not only means increased use of and expertise with collaboration
tools, but ensuring that a contractor’s own workforce remains productive when
teleworking. It is way too premature to
say that we will be in a virtual work world in perpetuity. People still need to interact in physical
spaces and some work cannot be done remotely.
Still, making sure that you can reach your federal customer
wherever they are working is essential.
Contractors should be thinking about such approaches now as part of their
strategic, and not just tactical, planning.
Succeeding in the federal market is not about doubling business
overnight. Experienced contractors know
that if a company grows that quickly they will inevitably make mistakes and
have to give some of that money back.
Still, either your business or partners you work with may insist that
their solution is just what the government always wanted (Jeff Bezos’ credit
card number?) and it’s up to you to manage expectations. Lesson number one: It’s a big government and there has to be
focus to any company’s business efforts.
Even large companies can’t be everywhere at once. Lesson two: There is risk inherent in selling to the
government. This is often difficult for
small businesses and subcontractors to accept, but the phenomena isn’t just
limited to those groups. Risk has to be
managed, no matter what your business size or level of federal experience. It takes discipline and resources to manage
it correctly. Regardless of a company’s
size and federal experience, growth has to be done in a sustainable
manner. That means ensuring that both
your company and your partners have as much of a commitment to compliance as to
driving new business. Large
business primes can be an important link in the chain by educating their
partners not only on business development but on the importance of having good
compliance systems in place. At
the same time, any business needs to be prepared for companies that promise to
deliver huge amounts of new business in a short time. It’s more tempting than you might think. A phone call from a previous partner about an
opportunity to sell masks when you’re a furniture company should make you think
twice, no matter how “easy” the money seems.
Everyone wants to increase their business, but doing it in way
that stays within the rules and protects your corporate reputation is essential
– no matter what your business size.
When was the last time your team had a compliance
refresher? Need the latest on GSA
Schedules, the Trade Agreements Act, or gift-giving guidelines? Allen Federal can help! Contact us today and we can provide a virtual
training experience that will both entertain and scare your team at the same
time. See what we can do for you at firstname.lastname@example.org
The $3 trillion “relief” package expected voted on in the House Friday
contains plenty of goodies for everyone.
Don’t expect it to ever see the light of day in its current form, however, as the
measure has zero chance of being passed as is in the Senate. Indeed, Senate leaders have expressed
reluctance to pass any sort of additional spending bill related to coronavirus
relief. The most likely scenario,
though, is that a new measure will pass, most likely before Memorial Day
weekend, but that it will be more focused.
Expect more small business loans, aid to states and the District of
Columbia, healthcare funding, and related appropriations. While little of this money is directly
targeted at large business contractors, there will still likely be provisions
such contractors should note. Enhanced telework requirements may mean that
face-to-face discussions will be more difficult moving forward. Hazard duty pay is also likely to be a part
of the measure, though likely not for contractor personnel. Money to stabilize small businesses,
including those doing government business, will be an important feature. That can be good news for larger companies
that rely on small partners for certain federal work. The largest impact of the relief bills will
be felt in future years. Someone
is going to have pay for all of this “relief” in the form of increased payment
on the federal debt. That will likely
reduce discretionary money available for contracting and other “business of
government” operations for several years to come. DOD, for one, is already preparing for such
an eventuality. Contractors should as