You know selling to Government is not really different from one developed country to another with most having established ways and means for small business to be able to access various work, contracts and panels. Of course, in this article we are not dealing with developing countries because let’s face it there are complexities that would take a decade to explain!
Even though there are a number of ways and means for small business to engage they often don’t mainly because they just don’t know how and where to start. There is also a psychological element to it all that it’s just too hard but get it right and you can build not only a profitable business but an expansive one.
In fact that is why I sat down and wrote this eBook because I get sick and tired of listening to the nonsense that many people ply when saying that they used this method or that or this sales technique or that. The truth is that in order to successfully sell to government you need to understand the basic fundamentals and the rest will fall into place such as understanding the market, determining what parts of government your product or service best aligns with and what geography makes most sense.
Then there is the need to understand how to price your product or service and you can only do that once you know what government intends to procure not just today but into the future. All of this needs to be wrapped up in a strategy that you can then use to go out there and connect with the people most able to help you successfully execute it.
You can really cut the barriers down if you take the approach I outline in this eBook.
So why me and what credentials do I have in selling to government (that is a question you should make sure you ask up front!)?
I have worked across four start-ups who have engaged with government with various products and services and assisted more than a dozen as they developed a strategy for engagement. At Voice XML start-up Syntropy I was behind the development of the government business development strategy that saw the release of the world’s first technologically enabled travel warning system for defense and foreign affairs departments.
As the senior advisor to software start-up and formerly listed company MXL I led the bids that secured tender wins in Australia, New Zealand and Asia and while the head of the world’s largest employment companies I was responsible for all lines of government work and tenders that carried a value of more than $4 billion.
I have sat on Government tender review panels as a decision maker and I have chaired public service boards and entities so you could say I have sat on both sides of the fence.
When it comes to understanding the connection between business start-ups, small business and entrepreneurs with governments in Asia, the USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand you could say I know a thing or to.
That means that the content of this bite sized eBook comes from practical experience and real life examples. I have designed it to give you insights but also to make you think about those things that may have fallen through the gaps.
Why should you consider engaging with government when it comes to procurement or as a customer? Because the global market is worth trillions of dollars – I’ll say that again – trillions of dollars ….
So lets get stuck into it with the firs tip and don't forget to keep coming back for the next five days as we publish more!
People make the mistake of trying to sell their product or service to a whole of government as opposed to understanding that, in fact, your product or service may only be relevant to a handful. Getting this right at the beginning will save you time, money and effort – it will also make sure that you set your own expectations at the very beginning.
For example, if your product is related to e-learning software then it may not be as relevant to an education department as it may be to a specific school system or if you have a product for defense it may be less relevant to law enforcement or border control.
However, it also maybe the case that your product is connected to a multiple of possible government departments or agencies and this is why mapping is very important early on.
So you need to be clear on who your product or service is most relevant to and don’t be overly ambitious early on in an attempt to just try and cover all things and be all things to all organisations.
The other thing you may need to understand from the beginning is that often your product or service will eventually evolve out of what it may have originally been designed for or intended.
For example, in 2004 I was involved in a student management software business that provided online management systems to the technical and vocational training college sector (in the United States that type of organisation will be similar to a community college). Eventually the product evolved into a k-12 school based student and curriculum management product and so the sector we ultimately found ourselves in was different to the one we started off with.
Another example was back in 2003 when I was the Business Director (and shareholder) in a company called Syntropy involved in developing text to speech solutions using what was then known as voice XML technology. We originally started off with the idea of selling a product that enabled people to call in sick but instead of leaving voicemail the system had become automated which meant (in theory) that few people would leave a voicemail that was then translated into text because they didn’t really want a written record or have to follow the advice of the automated response which was to obtain a doctors certificate.
Within six months the product had evolved into a completely different government department policy area whereby we used the same technology and platform to develop the world’s first interactive Voice XML travel warning system for governments to notify citizens if there was a threat against them or the location where they were staying.
We called the system the OverSeas Citizens Advisory Register (or OSCAR for short) and we went from pitching and selling to general government workplaces to a more strategic sell to the Departments of Defence and Foreign Affairs.
So even though you need to define your product or service upfront and try and connect it with a government department it is more to enable you to shorten the time frame for your first sale.
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