Selling is selling, right? Well, hold on just a minute there partner. Sure there are fundamental sales skills that apply across the board, but selling to government is a bit of a different animal than selling to corporations. In our years of experience, we have seen great B2B salespeople struggle in the B2G world, and vice versa. So what is the difference? Let’s begin looking at some basic ideas on what makes government so different from other selling environments.
Program managers and officials within government are spending funds received from taxpayers. Despite the fact we’ve all heard horror stories about $400 toilet seats, procurement processes are in place to help provide accountability to taxpayers. As such, buyers and vendors are required to jump through a number of procurement hoops to ensure waste, fraud, and other nasty practices are limited.
Unfortunately, these processes are also geared toward eliminating as much salesmanship as possible. Buying committees, RFPs, contracting officers, all are in place to take any emotion out of the buying decision and focus on “just the facts.” This adds a layer of complexity not found in B2B or B2C sales situations. One has to learn ways to navigate these turbulent waters and support accountability processes while building recognizable value. (We can show you how to thrive in this type of complexity and turn it to your advantage in our selling workshops).
Contract Vehicles & Teaming
Contract vehicles are simply pre-approved agreements that make it easier for government agencies to buy goods and services. They can be both a blessing and a curse. If you have access to the right contracting vehicle, your sale can go more smoothly. If you don’t, you’ll need a solid teaming partner with the right contracts in place. This adds to the complexity a bit, and you’ll give up a percentage of the sale, but it may be your only way in. In the future, we’ll discuss teaming partners and how to manage relationships in order to achieve the greatest market coverage and benefit.
Long Sales Cycles
If you’re in government sales hoping to make a quick buck, you’re probably going to be in for a disappointing ride. Government sales can be highly lucrative, but winning those deals don’t usually happen overnight. The same processes that add to vendor and buyer accountability also tend to stretch out the sales cycle. It is not uncommon to see sales cycle range from one to three years. For very large-ticket items within Federal government, five to ten years is more like it.
You need to enjoy the selling process and have some serious patience to be successful. Fortunately, these long sales cycles provide opportunity for relationship development while serving to keep certain competition from playing. Also, government customers may find ways to keep you around to avoid some of the re-bid headaches.
In future blogs, we’ll look at other key differences between B2B and B2G selling. Until then, happy hunting.
If you need help in building or developing your government sales team, let Galain Solutions assist. See our link on “Selling to Government Private Workshops” or visit us at http://www.galainsolutions.com.