GSA recently released the news that they have canceled the GSA show for the second year in a row. Past shows have peaked at over 10,000 attendees, including agency and military contracting professionals and 1,000 GSA schedule holders featured as vendors in the exhibit hall.
The reason, they say, is “In the current fiscal climate, agencies and businesses alike continue to make tough spending cuts and operate under reduced travel budgets. After careful review of projected attendance and continued travel budget reductions, GSA has made the decision to not hold an Expo in 2014. GSA remains committed to addressing the need for training and will identify the most effective way to offer Expo 2015 to deliver better value and savings for our government partners, our vendors, and the American people.”
So what is a GSA schedule holder to do with the $5,000-$50,000 budgeted on a booth, drayage, 10,000 give-a-ways, travel and time?
Here are a few fresh ideas which could keep your name brand in front of your client – and your message.
- Research where the winners are closing deals, build an action plan and execute it: Instead of waiting until May, when the GSA show normally happened, to build a lead list, why not perform a competitive analysis? A competitive analysis that is based on real contracting data can give you a great picture of what has been happening in your industry, both on GSA schedule and off GSA schedule, who is buying from whom, and where are the hot spots. This way you can focus your efforts on the exact buying offices and agencies who are spending money on your type of product or service. Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, it’s a great benchmarking exercise.You don’t have to wait until May to build an federal sales action plan that will focus your efforts to make the calls, send the emails, perform webinars and present capabilities briefings. Instead of designing a booth and traveling to the show, you will be spending time building relationships with the right clients – right now.Note from Bill: Another option might be local shows in a smaller venue, with fewer attendees but way more focus on exactly what YOU’re selling.
- Build your brand through ethical email blitzing: Instead of spending money on trade show trinkets and literature, consider building a regular, strategic emailing campaign with a weekly article utilizing the latest software and “landing page” techniques. This way, you can track your weekly results, click-through rates, and sales.Note from Bill: Or you could start a technically-oriented blog like this one, and increase your activity on networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Building up your “personal brand” as a well-connected and respected expert really goes a long way towards building your credibility and making it quicker and easier for new contacts to trust you.
- Create a video featuring your products, services, best values, and your story: Instead of building a booth this year, develop a video for your website featuring your products and your services. Don’t forget the story of your business, which the government is very much interested in if you are a 8a, SDVOSB, woman-owned, disadvantaged, veteran-owned or HubZone business. When a government employee needs services/products like yours, they can quickly watch a demo of your product or an introduction to your key subject matter experts showing their knowledge, past performance or capabilities!
Consider these three steps in 2014 to focus your sales efforts and overachieve your sales goals without the GSA show. Whether the show comes back in 2015 or not, you’ll be ahead of the game by building a personal relationship with your focused customer base right now. When the big proposal comes out, you have a much higher chance of winning because you know the client and better yet, they know and trust you.
For further information on training, a competitive analysis, a federal sales action plan, an email campaign or a video, contact Eileen Kent, the Federal Sales Sherpa at 312-636-5381. Federal Sales Sherpa is a brand of Custom Keynotes, LLC.