Strategies to land more government business as the federal fiscal year winds down (with related video)
The government market is huge. As the economy strengthens, governments are loosening their purse strings, as noted in the mid-year 2013 Keating report on government budgets and spending. In 2014, government purchases of goods and services will reach $3.09 trillion, up from $3.02 trillion in 2013, according to Lexington, Mass.-based economic forecaster IHS Global Insight. For 2013, federal government purchases of goods and services will total $1.17 trillion, while state and local government purchases will reach $1.86 trillion.
More importantly, the federal government's fiscal year ends Sept. 30, and that often means accelerated purchasing activity at federal agencies as the curtain comes down on FY 2013. It also means loads of selling opportunities for savvy government marketers between now and Sept. 30.
Mark Amtower, co-director of the Government Market Master continuing professional education program at Laurel, Md.-based Capitol College, provided GPN with some pointers for contractors who want to boost sales to federal agencies as the end of the federal fiscal year approaches.
Amtower says it is essential that government salespeople have a thorough knowledge of the products and services their company offers. “Contrary to what common sense would dictate, this does not occur as often as it should,” Amtower told GPN. “For companies with a broad spectrum of products and services, employees need to at least know those responsible for the firm’s other products and services. A simple org chart so people can easily refer inquiries to the proper person or office can be critical for success. Think of it like a website where you can’t readily find what you are looking for. How long will you stay and frustrate yourself before moving on to a more user-friendly venue?”
Sequestration, which entails the employment of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in the face of annual budget deficits, is in full swing in Washington. According to Amtower, “End-of-fiscal-year tactics by any contractor should stay in place as there will be money available at the end of the fiscal year — we just don't know how much.”
Marketers shouldn’t reduce their selling efforts because of sequestration, advises Amtower. “Companies failing to be in front of their best customers will likely lose out if they think sequestration will stifle total federal spending. Sequestration may curtail spending, but spending will still occur. I would even be more aggressive in my marketing and sales outreach, simply to let customers know you won't be going away.”
Sign up at the GPN site for Use it or Lose it, a GPN newsletter, to receive valuable information that will help federal contractors and purchasing officials with marketing and purchasing decisions during this prime spending period. Go here for a sample issue.
In this video, Amtower explores some of the myths in doing business with the government as the end of the federal fiscal year approaches.