Atypical tactics to generate fiscal year-end revenue
Esteemed colleagues have recently shared excellent recommendations for fiscal year-end best practices [on the Govpro site], and federal contractors would be well-served to pay attention. I won’t repeat what has already been said, and instead focus on two leading-edge tactics that have not yet made it to the “best practice” lexicon.
Online resources state that “…Best practice is considered by some as a business buzzword, used to describe the process of developing and following a standard way of doing things that multiple organizations can use…” For those government contractors who want to set themselves apart from the pack battling for fiscal year-end spending in a year when budgets are disappearing faster than a cold beer on the beach, developing new connections and incorporating fresh processes could be the compelling differentiation strategy to increase revenues between now and the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30.
The Executive Office of the President and the Office of Management and Budget have set the stage for these new processes by recently publishing two “Myth-Busting” memos with the intent of “…Addressing Misconceptions and Further Improving Communication During the Acquisition Process…” These memos have had a direct and measurable impact on communication with vendors during the acquisition process, and very few contractors (large or small) understand how to aggressively take advantage of the resulting clear-cut opportunities.
Directly as a result of these Myth-Busting Memos, an explosion of Sources Sought Notices are being posted on FedBizOpps (FBO). According to our in-house research, before the first memo’s publication in February 2011, 50 to 70 of these notices were posted on FBO in an average month. By March 2011, the number of posted notices exceeded 400 per month. Since the Myth-Busting #2 Memo was published in May 2012, new Sources Sought Notices now exceed 1,100 every month.
It is commonly stated that, “If you see it listed on FedBizOpps, it is too late.” Two years ago, that was a valid statement. Today, though, these pre-solicitation Sources Sought Notices are proof-positive that new (read: not wired) opportunities are being posted at unheard-of rates.
Very few contractors are using these notices as a fiscal year-end tool to identify new opportunities and reach out to the multiple layers of decision-makers involved. Well-positioned, savvy contractors are reviewing those opportunities for which they have appropriate contract vehicles, reacting immediately and offering a speedy turn-around to get it off the contracting officer’s desk and into their win column, especially those with sole source capabilities. I have witnessed a number of Sources Sought Notices turn into contracts because informed contractors reached out at the right time, to the right person, with the right message and the right contract vehicle.
One of the biggest challenges in selling to the federal government and military is staying on top of personnel changes. Our internal research has shown that personnel turnover in the federal government exceeds 42 percent per year. That means that the person who was there last year has a 42 percent chance of not being in that seat this year.
The second fiscal year-end leading-edge process addresses this personnel turnover issue and actually can be used all year long. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools such as Salesforce.com, ACT! and Microsoft CRM are some of the better-known systems that can be tweaked to execute fiscal year-end sales tactics and set the stage for the upcoming new fiscal year challenges. If well-planned, CRM can be used to track personnel turnover and contact decision-makers via phone, e-mail, mail and in-person during the final weeks of the federal fiscal year with targeted messages related to specific requirements and budget availability.
Sadly, though, very few contractors incorporate a “new prospect” management process into their capture strategy, and instead, focus on the same opportunities that all of their competitors are targeting. Those companies that institute a proactive sales and marketing process using an effective CRM system will see revenues increase not only at fiscal year-end but throughout the year.
Gloria Berthold Larkin is president of Columbia, Md.-based
TargetGov. The company provides tools to help contractors make connections to people within federal, state and local governments. It helps businesses develop an
effective marketing process to increase sales to agencies at all levels of government.