As contractors and their government customers await spending allocations for individual offices, now is a perfect time to showcase the solutions your customers can buy when the money does arrive.  Every contractor’s calendar should have multiple appointments each day with both new prospects and existing customers.  These are the longer, content filled discussions that simply aren’t possible later in the fiscal year.  They can truly establish your company as a partner and give your customer information they may need to make good acquisition decisions later.  Showing your company’s established, successful federal business can also establish you as a low-risk, reliable contractor.  New market entries should show other public sector experience or be prepared to show how commercial market success stories are relevant to a prospective federal customer.  Federal agencies tend to favor low-risk partners, with innovation being a term with a slightly different meaning than what it has commercially.  Contractors should take care, though, not to just promote any old solution.  Reading procurement forecasts, previous budget requests, and doing market research on what your targets are likely to buy are all essential.  Having a great new piece of technology may not be enough.  Remember that most larger acquisitions are planned well in advance.  Showing how your solutions match to actual acquisition plans ensures that everyone’s time is well used.  Successful companies also know that they must be ready to answer the “how” question, as in “how can I buy from you?”.  While no contractor should force their customer to sift through multiple acquisition options, having 2-3 preferred and easy to use acquisition methods is a definite best practice.  The ability to have in-depth educational discussions shrinks significantly about midway through the third quarter of the fiscal year.  Make sure you plan accordingly and schedule those meetings now.