THREE THINGS TO NEVER ASSUME WHEN DOING GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

There’s a great line from old movie “Desk Set” where Spencer Tracy quizzes Katherine Hepburn on some early version of an aptitude test.  Tracy’s character says to “never assume” circumstances that aren’t actually made clear.  So it is with government business.  Here are three things contractors should never assume as they approach the federal market:  1.  Don’t assume that your federal prospect knows anything about your product or service.  This is true even if your solution has an established commercial market footprint.  Federal officials are approached every day by contractors trying to sell everything from copier paper to drones.  Make sure your target knows what you’re talking about and why looking at your solution is worth their time.  2.  Don’t assume that your customer knows about certifications and other qualifiers contractors are supposed to have.  If we’ve learned anything lately its that federal customer knowledge of FedRAMP requirements, secure supply chain mandates, and best value directives is highly uneven.  It’s not enough to say that your solution meets “Section 508” standards.  Spell it out.  Provide some background on what that is and why federal agencies have to buy 508-compliant technology.  Expect pushback, too.  While you may know that federal agencies are supposed to buy FedRAMP-ed cloud solutions, more than one federal buyer has looked the other way.  Don’t take it personally.  3.  Don’t assume that your customer knows how to buy from you.  Make sure your sales team has the latest information on how to buy from the GSA Schedule, NASA SEWP contract, or even how to make a Micro-Purchase.  Customers can have their favorite way of buying and if you’re solution is outside their comfort zone, its vital that you provide the information they need to buy from you correctly through the vehicle that is the best fit.  Federal agency customers have a mission to meet and are often focused on that, not on how to buy the solutions they need to support that mission.  Make sure you know that part of the puzzle fits.  Hepburn, by the way, aced the test.