Sometimes it seems like senior federal customers are hiding in some remote Afghan cave when your firm is trying to set up a meeting.  While this may certainly be the case sometimes, more often feds say that contractors don’t know anything about their agency’s mission when they want to get together.  That makes the discussion one-sided and, as such, not productive.  Taking the time to know your agency’s mission, however, is just one part of the process.  A common mistake contractors make is saying “ok, the mission is telecommunications and the agency wants to move to the cloud.  Let’s go see the Assistant Secretary.”  As your teenager might say, “Wait, what?”  You got the first part right, but the second part all wrong.  Too many times contractors are obsessed with titles.  You really want to go see the Program Manager or Deputy Assistant Secretary to discuss the client’s mission and need.  Go too high and you’ll likely run into a wall.  The take-away here is combining knowledge of the mission with knowledge of who is in charge of making an actual project happen.  That person could be lower down on the org chart than you think.  The right feds do want to hear from you if you have something to say that can help them accomplish their goals.  Focus on those and you may get in more doors than you thought.