The federal fiscal year closed on September 30th, a time when many federal contractors were out hunting for business (or waiting by the side of the road like a vulture). As Eileen Kent explained in her guest post, it’s likely you were doing a little of both. However, whether you were wonderfully successful with your year-end tactics or not, the issue now is what do you do next?
Here’s an example of how to capitalize on a success. On September 30th, at about two o’clock in the afternoon, someone from a federal agency called a member of our senior leadership team to say, “I’ve got a little money I need to put in your task order, how can I do that?” By 9:30 p.m. I was signing the contract papers.
While this certainly proves that when they want to, the government can move pretty fast, what it shows even more is that relationship building works in federal contracting. Yes, we had all the right things in place to make this happen – there was a vehicle, we had a task order, we’re going to fill the jobs, we’ll start the work.
That is the task execution part. That is essentially what the government is paying us for. But I guarantee we weren’t the only company this agency could have approached. The difference is that we had done our homework up to this point.
We did good work for our client, we kept in touch, and we consistently built our relationship. We didn’t know they had this extra money, in fact, no one we knew was involved, but our customer must have spoken highly enough of us to their colleagues that at the 11th hour they came to us and – sight unseen – gave us the work.
When the contracting officer sent over the fully-executed and counter-signed contract, he copied several people in the agency to say it was done. Some of them actually wrote back – using Reply All – to thank the contracting officer.
We might have stopped there, satisfied with the new order, but that’s not how relationship building works. So here’s what I did next: I replied directly to each one of them with the simple message, “Thank you for your confidence in our company.”
In a month or two, we’ll reach out to them again and continue building these new relationships.
That is what this blog is really about. These simple things. Task execution. Responsiveness. Acknowledging other people. It’s about showing somebody that you’re willing to go a few extra steps. That you value their personal contribution to your activity.
At the end of the day, our customers noticed our commitment to our relationship, leading them to recommend us as someone their colleagues could trust to hand over this bunch of money they had to spend before year end.
“Yeah, these guys will do the job for you.”
Truth be told, that’s the only advertisement that counts. The one that comes from your customers.