Starting the GovCon Business Development Discussion
On Thursday, September 16 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm, a group of leading business development professionals in the government space is gathering at the Tower Club in Tysons Corner, VA to discuss best practices, strategies and changes in the federal procurement marketplace.
The event will help facilitate a discussion among the leaders in federal contracting and sales in the GovCon space at a time when the dynamics of doing business with the federal government is changing faster than ever.
To get the conversation started before the event, I had a chance to ask one question of each of the panelists. Take a look at their responses below, and submit your comments.
And don’t forget to register for the GovCon Business Development Panel, this Thursday from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to network with top GovCon experts over complimentary cocktails and appetizers. Click to register(registration is free).
Question: What piece of advice would you offer business development professionals in the government space on either what they are doing or not doing that they need to change to improve their success?
Jim McCarthy, CEO, AOC Key Solutions
Here is my advice: We need to reinvent the way we conduct business development, execute capture, and manage proposals. We need a new process, a new paradigm. We need to change our thinking from a slavish compliance to RFP requirements (“beyond mere compliance”) that elevate form and process over substance and content.
We need to shift to thinking about how we can serve our government customers and add value to them. Not how we can guile them into awarding us the contract.
Stop focusing on what we want to “tell them and sell them.” Focus instead on what they want to hear and what they want to buy. Telling and selling is often different than hearing and buying. To know the difference takes leadership and courage. It is time to reinvent ourselves as BD professionals.
Dan Shyti, Vice President, GWAC Management Center, L-3 STRATIS
The Federal BD process is a unique animal. If one were to explain it to a commercial salesperson, they would think you were from another planet. Because of the uniqueness, it’s easy for a Federal BD person to focus on reading portals like Input, tracking RFPs, and following the government compliance process. It’s easy to forget that basic sales skills still apply. My advice is to keep your basic sales skills sharp. Be personable. Know how to make customers feel comfortable around you. Build strong relationships across the marketplace – both inside government and with industry counterparts.
Mary Gostel, Senior Vice President, Market Intelligence, FedSources
BD professionals in government contracting need to find ways to “do more with less”. Increased competition, IDIQ sales cycles and fewer large program opportunities translates to more proposal activity without additional resources. Choose bids wisely, based on solid market intelligence not industry buzz, for greater win probability.
Al Mink, National Security Strategy Director, SRA, Inc
Much of the answer depends on the context. But in general I’d say, “Strive for agility and mass.”
Maneuver/Agility to move quickly in terms of closing on teaming, strategic hires, customer meetings (before doors close), writing task orders in 10 days, etc
Mass: to have the brainpower and heavy lifting to for a successful capture and proposal. If the resources for capture are spread too thin, then you risk competition outperforming you. For example, many firms either gloss over or decide a Black Hat is unnecessary, only to learn later that they would have improved their proposed solution had they thought about how their competition would approach the opportunity. Another example of thinness is making “availability” the primary criteria for the technical team. This leads to constant turnover during capture and the B team during proposal.
Maneuver/Agility and Mass – two military terms that definitely relate to successful business development activities
Hillary Fordwich, President, Strelmark, Business
Business development professionals to improve their success need to keep their focus on just one issue. How are they creating a WANT for their products and services? Not selling, not pushing something that is not wanted.
If you are outside of the DC area, but still want to participate in Thursday’s GovCon Business Development Panel, click here to watch the live-streamed panel discussion from 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM.