Federal Sales Tactics for the Stage and Screen

Speaker Giving a Talk at Business Meeting. Audience in the conference hall. Business and Entrepreneurship. Panoramic composition suitable for banners.

© kasto – Fotolia.com

This is a guest post by Judy Bradt of Summit Insight. Judy and I recently partnered up for the webinar, Insights from the Mid-Tier: More Federal Q4 Tactics. If you missed Part One, here are Judy’s first three federal sales tactics for Q4.

Webinars, podcasts and videos

YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. Do your competitors have a YouTube channel? You could be the first in your niche to have one!

After websites, federal buyers consider webinars to be a leading, trusted, source of information from vendors. In fact, federal buyers are far more interested in webinars than suppliers realize.

The webinars don’t even have to be an hour; try a half-hour. Thirty-minute podcasts are particularly popular, because that’s often someone’s drive time (okay, in the DC area, someone might listen to three of them in a single trip, but you get the idea).

Pick topics for your webinars and videos that center based on their biggest concerns. Did you know…? Simplify complex concepts. Share actionable ideas. Vary the format: Invite guests, include an active Q&A, chat with a moderator or industry expert, share your screen.

Close with a call to action. What would you like your listener to do? Visit your website? Sign up for your e-news? Invite a deeper relationship: what’s the next natural step? You’ll want to have a solid, permission-based promotion platform and make sure you’re capturing at least name, email address and phone number when people register. If your content is good enough, people are willing to share information like job title and name of organization, too.

Stand out tactics:

  • Be energetic, focused, and authentic. Have some fun!
  • Go shorter rather than longer. Did you know that the vast majority of YouTube how-to videos are just two minutes long? What could you teach someone in two minutes?
  • Focus on content that emphasizes your best values: things that are quantifiable, and objectively proven.
  • Be sure to include a healthy Q&A period. Invite some of your best contacts or even current clients to ask the first few questions.
  • Get to know how the features of your broadcast platform work. Experiment ahead of time, learn how to get good lighting and audio quality. There are often many options, and that can be another reason to invite a partner or moderator to share the broadcast with you.
  • Take advantage of the post-webinar survey features to get feedback.
  • Use the chat windows as well as the ability to selectively unmute people in order to let everyone hear diverse voices. Then it gets fun! Ask people where they’re calling from and what they do before you get to their question, and remember to thank them afterward. If your platform lets you include a webcam stream, don’t be shy.
  • Record your webinar! Once you have the recording, you can share it with those who participated. You can also share the link afterwards to those who missed your event, post it on your website and social media, and have the content transcribed into later blog posts or articles, just for starters.
  • Finally, be generous as well as confident! Share handouts or links to follow-up tools like short checklists or more in-depth insights from you, your co-presenters, and others.

Key: these online educational channels offer a no-risk way to get to know you and connect.

Speaking engagements

Speak up about innovation! Thought leaders get invited more. Share your expertise and insight. Keep the focus narrow. Inspire conversations! Share highlights of case studies – including but not limited to those involving your own clients. Not all gigs will be paid, but some will be; expect a mix of free and paid speaking opportunities.

Great speakers make complex things simple. You might not ever give a TED Talk, but you can draw on these masterful tips offered by Chris Anderson, the head of TED.

Stand out tactics:

  • Memorable speakers come early and stay late.
  • Share fresh, meaty data, but don’t fill slides with busy graphs and tons of tiny-font text. Let images be the backdrop for your story.
  • Involve your audience, with quick polls, questions, and even the chance to talk with each other.
  • Talk about their problems and leave them with hope and ideas for solutions. Offer actionable next steps – besides suggesting they hire you! Let that come naturally, when they understand they could do it themselves, but they’d love to have you do it for or with them.
  • Own the room: treat the occasion as if you were the host, and each attendee were your cherished guest.

Key: Be the friendly expert: generous, personable, accessible.


About the author: Judy Bradt, CEO of Summit Insight, gives federal contractors the focus, skills and tools you need to transform your federal business and achieve the sales and partnerships you’ve always wanted. It’s easier than you ever imagined. Call her at 703-627-1074 or visit http://www.summitinsight.com and find out more.


Federal Sales Tactics for Q4 – Getting Close and Personal

Business people shaking hands, finishing up a meeting

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This is a guest post by Judy Bradt of Summit Insight. Judy and I recently partnered up for the webinar, Insights from the Mid-Tier: More Federal Q4 Tactics.

Looking for marketing strategies to ramp up your fourth-quarter federal sales? These five ideas are important year-round. For now, focus on the ones you’re already using, and take a look at how you can move those into high gear. Save the others for your FY2017 plan!

  1. Personal contact and office calls

Time after time, companies say that these are the most effective marketing strategies, if you can get in the door! Looking to break down barriers? Remember to reconnect with something as simple as sending thank you notes to your federal contracting officers and end users, and writing their managers to let them know what a great job they do.

Office visits are easier to get in October through May. But whenever you can get there, make sure your briefing is short – less than 15 minutes – and isn’t a sales pitch or a standard capability briefing. Share highlights of your expertise, best practices, industry findings and case studies. Always say yes to a walk-about or site tour, and be sure to ask what they like best about the vendors they’re working with now. Explain, “We only want to team with the best!”

Stand out tactics:

  • Make sure the business owner attends. That reinforces that everybody in the company is not 100% billable; you’re established enough to have time and resources for business development.
  • Become the “go-to” resource. Say, “Make me your first call. Even if I don’t do that, I’ll find you someone who does. Call my mobile, nights, weekends, no problem. I’m here for you!” Show them you’re looking out for them!
  • Share links to articles or resources on things you know they care about. This is a personal, one-to-one email, not a campaign newsletter. While you might run across something about industry best practices, also keep a lookout for a great recipe if you remember he loves to cook, or maybe a local canine agility event if you noticed how much she likes dogs.

Key: Show you care about what matters to them. Become their first call.

  1. Association memberships

Show up! Participate regularly, not just once in a while. Have one or more members of your federal team become active, visible members. Show up in force at their meetings and events – that makes a big impact – and don’t all sit together. Reach out to individual members to follow up.

Stand out tactics:

  • Submit content to organization newsletter or magazine.
  • Make a commitment for a whole year.
  • Designate a senior member of the company, especially the owner or VP, as your flagship representative.
  • Volunteer for a couple of the group’s committees that relate to things you care about and enjoy, and benefit you and your company, personally and/or professionally. Golf tournament? STEM Scholarships? Use your creativity. Maybe you focus on something you think SHOULD happen and isn’t being done, or could be done better.

Key: Value comes not from paying your fees…but from paying your DUES.

  1. Assessment, white paper, or limited free product trial

Consistently offer a minimally-priced or possibly even free short assessment or product trial through drip email campaigns (a pre-written series of emails sent through an email service responder like MailChimp or Constant Contact). Be sure not to give away a service you normally sell! You can also offer a white paper, a reading list, or checklist.

An “assessment” can be a simple half-hour chat about needs. Be sure to make it a conversation; don’t turn it into a sales pitch. If, after the half-hour, someone wants to explore working with you, you can always book a follow-up call – ideally, including colleagues or managers.

If a custom, one-on-one, assessment is feasible and is a service during which you would share substantive professional expertise, pricing it below $3,500 will let your federal buyer engage you sole-source and pay you immediately. What’s not to like?

Stand-out tactics:

  • Offer a quick quote. Do a walk-through and some commentary (though remember to first validate what they’re already doing, then educate them on the latest and greatest). Maybe offer an informal design sketch of what an installation or project might look like.
  • Draft a short white paper outline – literally, a project description on white paper or a document with no author information listed in the document properties – that a buyer who really likes you and is hoping for fiscal year-end money can turn around into a fast statement of work and hire you in a hurry.
  • Put together something for the ‘Budget’ – a quick needs analysis/scope of work.

Key: Get something on file for Q4 “Wish List” proposals.

About the author: Judy Bradt, CEO of Summit Insight, gives federal contractors the focus, skills and tools you need to transform your federal business and achieve the sales and partnerships you’ve always wanted. It’s easier than you ever imagined. Call her at 703-627-1074 or visit http://www.summitinsight.com and find out more.

Stay tuned for Part Two of this post, where Judy reveals two more federal sales tactics for Q4.


Five Ways to Create a Revenue Culture

© gigra - Fotolia.com

© gigra – Fotolia.com

This is a guest post by Matt Falls.

The primary challenge of CEOs is to generate revenue with acceptable margins. Companies must develop new customers while expanding their beachhead in existing accounts. The drive for revenue growth requires that the CEO focus the whole revenue generation team – from marketing to customer service – on the goal of generating revenue.

A company focused on generating revenue works together as a cohesive unit through marketing, opportunity identification, qualification and proposal development. Here are five ways a CEO can create a culture focused on generating revenue:

1. Install a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM)

The primary reason for the CRM is to generate revenue; it is not the end goal. It is a highly useful tool to organize the revenue generation team’s activities, share information about potential revenue opportunities, set performance metrics and provide the information to better manage the company.

Businesses use the information in the CRM to reinforce the revenue culture with team revenue meetings, by creating dashboards that measure activity and performance, to inform coaching sessions that improve performance and to gauge the effectiveness of marketing activities.

2. Hold team revenue review sessions

A key part of establishing the revenue culture is to hold team meetings where the entire revenue generation team focuses on finding the path to revenue. In this meeting, each team member presents their opportunities, products and services proposed, the flow of conversation, competitors, the decision makers, objections and their strategy for winning the business.

The entire team listens and contributes ideas to help close the business. There may be new products and services to propose, a key introduction, or helpful sales techniques are passed along. The entire team works together to close the business.

A similar meeting is held to discuss open customer service cases. Business development uses the information in these meetings to find revenue opportunities and works with line managers to present a solution to the customer. Line managers have the relationships, knowledge of customer challenges and credibility with the customer. Combined with business development’s knowledge of product applications and solutions, they expand the company’s presence in customer accounts.

3. Set goal dashboards to measure activity and performance

Critical to supporting the revenue culture are performance metrics that measure contribution to revenue. Dashboards track activity and performance goals for marketing, business development and customer service teams. Marketing goals such as qualified leads generated and dollar return on marketing campaigns are monitored along with activity goals such as campaigns launched. Customer service’s contribution to revenue is measured not only by cases completed, but also opportunities presented to business development.

Dashboards tell the CEO the most effective marketing channels, the size of the revenue pipeline, revenue forecasts based on probability of win, and the activities that team members are completing to convert opportunities to winning business.

4. Hold monthly individual reviews focused on improving ability to win business

Many companies use annual or twice yearly performance reviews to provide feedback on team members’ performance. Companies that are focused on generating revenue use the performance information in the CRM to provide a higher degree of guidance to individual team members. Individual performance dashboards highlight opportunities, revenue, cases resolved and activity levels.

Performance reviews can focus on improving the team member’s ability to win business, resolve cases or find opportunities. Action items can be created and assigned for follow up in the next month’s review session. With close guidance, individual performance improves and the team wins more business.

5. Measure marketing’s contribution to revenue

When the revenue culture is established in companies, marketing activities are directly connected to the practice of revenue generation. Campaigns are evaluated on the leads that are generated and the revenue that is produced from them.

Marketing makes better investments by tracking the leads and revenue that are generated by each marketing activity. Monthly review sessions facilitate a culture of continuous improvement by highlighting the activities that are generating leads and revenue and modifying marketing activities based on that information.

Highly successful companies create a revenue culture by measuring contribution to revenue, sharing information about potential opportunities and working together to win business, setting performance goals and holding review sessions that improve team member’s ability to generate revenue.

This post is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared at http://matthewfalls.com/five-ways-to-create-a-revenue-culture/, and was adapted and reprinted with permission.

photo, Mathew FallsMatthew Falls helps emerging companies that need a seasoned executive to fill out their senior team. He focuses on driving organic revenue, tapping the expertise of employees to reduce costs, creating innovation teams that transform ideas into highly profitable products, inspiring teams to win more business and creating internal controls and cost systems that sustain profitability. You can email Matthew to learn more.


Discriminators – Tell the World How You Are Different

In a previous post, I wrote about how discriminators are the federal contractor’s version of the Black Friday sale.

Note pinned to cork board - Stand Out From the Crowd

What makes your company special? Do your people have special training or experience? Do you have specialized equipment? Do you have specific industry insights?

Once you have a clear handle on what distinguishes you from your competitors, it’s time to tell the world so that the right customers find you, and other people know exactly who to refer to you.

Here are five ways to promote your discriminators:

  1. Consistent marketing messages – Before you put anything out to the public, be clear about how and what you want to project. Come up with specific words and phrases for your core messages – how you will describe your discriminators. Then make sure these phrases are used in all of the following marketing materials and conversations.
  2. Trade shows – Investing in a trade show booth is your chance to display your core marketing messages and have preliminary conversations with the people who are drawn to your display. TAPE Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications Daria Gray shared some excellent tips for setting up a successful trade show booth.
  3. Blogging – By writing about your company’s capabilities and other relevant topics in your industry, you and your team can establish your thought leadership and give more insight into your areas of expertise. After you’ve met people initially, you can send them links to blog posts that relate to your conversation.
  4. Events – Whether you’re at the podium, in the audience, on the tradeshow floor, or even walking down the hallways, always be ready to make a meaningful connection with a customer, referral source, or potential teaming partner. Most importantly, be willing to follow up with the new contacts you’ve made, both directly (e.g., scheduling a meeting) and indirectly (e.g., asking permission to add the person to your newsletter list).
  5. Social media – Social media is an excellent way to follow up with people you’ve met, maintain an ongoing relationship, and gain access to valuable new contacts. Identify your key contacts and watch for updates you can reply to, “like,” or share you’re your own networks. These seemingly small actions can do wonders for keeping you on their minds and reminding them who you are and what you do. Be sure that your social media profile pages have the same consistent messaging as your other marketing materials.

In the quest for new business, always be telling a clear and consistent story of who your company is and who and how you help. Those are the discriminators that lead someone to choose you over a competitor.


How to Find Customers, Part Two: Pairing Up to Win More Government Contracts

Teaming is a way of life in the federal contracting sector. It’s a rare circumstance when one company can win a contract of any significant size by themselves (other than businesses that provide facility maintenance, support services, etc.). Almost all large contracts are done in a multiple fashion with large and small teammates.

According to this article at Inc., the American Express OPEN Victory in Procurement report found that “small business owners who paired up with other small firms or acted as subcontractors won 50 percent more contracts.” In this article, our focus is on your role as a subcontractor.

Your first step towards a successful team contract should be a lawyer’s office, legal website or your PTAC. They can help you create your own non-disclosure agreement (NDA). An NDA will protect you as you proceed through the contracting and identification process; it’s a promise that neither you nor the other party will disclose each other’s information outside of these teaming discussions.

Your next step is a teaming agreement, which generally consists of a whole lot of definitions, points of contact and boiler plate explanations (much of which are repeated from the NDA). At the core of the teaming agreement is what is called Exhibit A – this is where you define the responsibilities of the parties and, most importantly, how work will be allocated amongst the prime contractor and the subcontractor.

There are many ways you can divide work. The simplest is for the prime and sub to agree on a specific percentage share, recognizing that you can’t exactly split things down the middle because you can’t split a person.

It’s very important that Exhibit A specifically identify how you intend to do things, and the work you expect from your partner at every stage of the process. While you’re writing the proposal, who’s going to perform each of the functions? When it’s time to go out and market yourself, who’s going to do that? All of these are important considerations in this process.

Let’s assume that you’ve put yourself out there to various groups and networks and you’ve managed to find the right partner to team with as your prime contractor. Together, you put a proposal together and sent it off to the government, and lo and behold, the government awards the prime contractor the contract.

You’ll recall that piece of legislation that will give more power to the small business officers to enforce percentages that the primes have to give to their small business subs, and now you can see why this is so important. Too often there is a difference between what was promised and what was actually delivered (because, in the end, large businesses want appliances, they don’t want subcontractors). It is very important to get these details in writing, no matter how much you trust your partner. Even if your prime contractor is your relative – even if it’s your mother – get it in writing.

Partnering up with a larger business allows you to go after work that you wouldn’t be eligible for otherwise; you wouldn’t be able to bid on it. The large business needs you to fulfill their small business requirements. They also want certain things from you (customer knowledge, fast performance, functional capability). People like the nimbleness of small businesses – things can move faster without the huge overhead and complex procedures of larger organizations.

All this translates into another set of ways in which you can find customers and get to work.


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