Two Key Questions for Federal ContractorsPosted: October 15, 2014
Between now and December, there is going to be a lot of vacant time before federal agencies get their budgets settled and begin to look at contract actions again. Now is the time to be planting seeds and be understanding what’s coming down the pipe.
Here are two key things you want to know about your government customers:
What keeps them up at night?
Remember the last time you engaged your customers in a conversation that wasn’t about the work in your current contract? It could be about baseball (just please don’t ask me about my Nationals), football, a TV show, or a photo on their desk. The point is to open up a dialogue so you can build a relationship.
You want to boost your rapport to the point where you can find out what they’re most worried about. What are their concerns? What keeps them up at night?
If they’re standoffish or don’t really want to talk, just come back to it later, or catch them when they’re sitting with a fresh cup of coffee. Emphasize the reason you’re asking, which is to make sure you’re doing everything you can to help.
Also point out that if you know what’s on their plate now and in the future, you can help with the advanced planning for anything you should be thinking about together.
Whatever your customer is worried about is an opportunity for you to do something to help them – either a new piece of work, or to improve the work you’re already doing. Either scenario will cement your relationship and increase your value to them.
How are they evaluated?
What is the top metric on your customer’s job description performance requirement list, i.e., what’s the number one thing that their boss is evaluating them on?
Do you know that? How can you find out? Obviously, that’s an important issue to that person, but it’s also crucial for you as a federal contractor.
Zig Ziglar said that you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. When you know how your customer is being evaluated, you can make them successful. The more successful you can make them, the more successful you will be.