You are CEO of a very important brand. That brand is YOU. In government selling, building and managing that brand can give you a significant advantage when it comes to uncovering and winning government contracts.
As government salespeople, we know our greatest position of strength with a prospect comes when we are able to “get there first” before an RFP is issued. This allows us to offer our consultative expertise and perhaps even infuse our solution’s benefits into the ultimate requirements (maybe even create a sole source situation). Yet so many times we do not get that opportunity. We subscribe to RFP databases that, while useful, bring us to the party too late. The questions become, how do we uncover pre-RFP opportunities without time-wasting cold calling or a huge marketing budget? Is it possible to create a situation where prospects actually call us instead of chasing them around like a love-sick teenager?
The answer lies in YOU (remember you’re CEO). Like other CEOs, your job is to continuously add value to the brand. This means, beyond the marketing efforts of your employer, you must be determined to build YOUR individual value with prospects in the marketplace. Achieving this will position you as a respected, needed resource with whom a prospect would want to consult (as opposed to a self-interested manipulator from whom a prospect wishes to run).
To do this, you must first determine what unique abilities (brand dimensions) you offer the market. These are not the things that make you employable, but instead skills or talents available to build your brand outside company walls. Do you write well? Are your presentation skills top-notch? Are you a technical genius? Decide where your strengths lie.
The second step is to put these abilities into action in an elevated manner (moving beyond a routine use of talents). If you are a writer, for example, consider starting a blog or volunteering to craft a white paper. If you are a speaker, offer to sit on panels or give presentations at industry events. If you are technical, commit to participating in standards groups or other industry committees. In any of these approaches, make sure what you offer the marketplace is unique, valuable content–not just another thinly veiled sales pitch. You’ll get your chance at that later.
One final note. Even though you’re CEO of YOU, make every effort to do these things within the framework of your company’s go-to-market plan. Being a rogue maverick has its benefits at times, but more often than not it will lead to misery. This is not a call to revolt against existing sales and marketing practices, but instead an opportunity to offer your abilities as a rallying point for proactively collaborating with others. In most cases, this will be welcomed internally if done with the right attitude and proper respect.
Taking these steps will not necessarily produce short-term results (nothing new in government markets). However, focusing on building your personal brand will open opportunities beyond what you can see today. Who knows, maybe in addition to CEO of YOU, you’ll find yourself CEO of another brand, too.