During the interview, Frank touched on a wide range of topics including the most valuable lessons in government sales, the significant changes in the process of winning government contracts over recent years, marketing an organization in the GovCon sector, the difference between the capture process for smaller and larger businesses and a lot more.
If you’d like to learn more about winning contracts from best-selling author and award-winning business coach Joshua Frank, visit ExecutiveBiz Events to register for his upcoming How to Win Government Contracts with Joshua Frank Fireside Chat on Aug 26th.
You can read the full Executive Spotlight with Joshua Frank below.
ExecutiveBiz: What are the most valuable lessons and methods to establish a solid foundation in government sales and drive success in winning government contracts?
“Great question and the answer is simple in concept and complex in the execution. Whether you are a small business or large system integrator, ‘It’s not what you learn; it’s how you apply it.’
I’ve trained and coached thousands of companies and successfully winning government contracts comes down to specific tactics and strategies. Every business developer has some level of expertise. Every business developer has learned ‘how to sell.’
90 percent of business developers are average. Sure, some catch the golden goose, but it’s just as likely the result of being surrounded by other quality people. 10 percent of business developers are what we call ‘stars or even superstars.’
Large system integrators (contrary to what small businesses may believe) have just as many issues finding and maintaining strong business developers. On a side note, small businesses can find and hire the same quality business developers as large system integrators; it’s just about knowing how to create a strong compensation plan with commissions and escalators.
The application of the right tactics and strategies, whether you are small or large, is the difference between making $50,000 and $50 million.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the most significant changes that you’ve seen in the ways government contractors establish relationships and go about the process of winning contracts over the course of your career as emerging technology continues to alter the landscape?
“Government sales and general business strategy are separate and distinct. You win contracts by combining and cross-walking the two, but also recognizing that both are required is a significant challenge for many companies.
I would also argue that whether we’re talking about a knowledge-management (KM) solution, a cybersecurity solution, or other emerging technology, the business strategy, your relationship strategies, and the tactics and strategies employed are no different.
When working with government contractors, I often audit and train sales teams. My focus is on three core activities: a strong programmatic teaming strategy, proactively engaging the government buyers, and most important of all, a business development strategy that is laser-focused on pre-acquisition.
All three of these are interrelated with activities and deliverables feeding from one into the other. It’s not complex. It’s recognizing that some activities are a waste of time and others will successfully help you push new opportunities through the pipeline.
Establishing relationships is the key to winning contracts. The ability to communicate the quantitative and qualitative value of your products or services is key to winning contracts. The only way to successfully and consistently win government contracts is to focus your company’s capture strategies in pre-acquisition. Yes, establishing relationships involves tactical activities but make no mistake, it’s a strategic objective.
On a final note, your approach to a government buyer is completely different from how you would approach a potential teaming partner. When marketing and positioning with a government buyer, a business developer’s objective is to communicate the value they will provide to the government.
When marketing and attempting to team with another company, the objective is communicating that your company will make them more competitive. It’s not semantics. I’ll speak more on this during my upcoming fireside chat with ExecutiveBiz on the 26th.”
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ExecutiveBiz: “The best marketing comes from your clients, not your marketing team.” Can you elaborate on how that concept works towards building your reputation and establishing a company’s ethical standards to grow into long term success?
“In today’s digital environment, every business needs to establish a strong corporate brand. A current buzz phrase for this is creating a Subject Matter Expert Platform (SMEP). However, from a business perspective (not a government acquisition perspective), the best marketing comes from outside your company.
Sure, my company’s marketing is important. But the strongest marketing comes from our clients and our partners. This applies to B2B and B2C but there are somewhat different tactics and strategies for B2G.
While I agree that the best marketing comes from your clients, in the government space, you have to use what I call Facilitated Indirect Marketing (FIM). When a government program manager or agency leadership extols the success of new IT solutions or programs with their peers in other agencies or commands, they’re not going to market your company.
There’s a bit of human nature here. Government employees are just like us. They want to be promoted, make more money, achieve recognition and status. While some may extol the virtues of your company to their peers, they’re likely not going to. It’s not about you. It’s about that government executive or leader building their own brand within and outside their agency.
As a result, you have to understand the FIM concept so you can recognize the importance of using your client to facilitate and indirectly market your company and solutions to other prospects.”
ExecutiveBiz: How would you describe the critical differences between how smaller and larger businesses approach winning contracts, acquisition and the tactics they use to find a competitive advantage or grow their position in the federal landscape?
“I’m glad you asked this question because I believe there is a major misconception in the market, propagated by non-profits, for-profits, and various folks in the government. There are no critical differences between how small and large businesses successfully win contracts. For example, small businesses will never win a government contract because of federally mandated small business percentages.
Just because you’re 8(a), WOSB, SDVOSB, or HUBZone certified is not enough of a value to win a contract. If you’re 8(a) certified and think, ‘Well, I can win a sole-source award.’ However, your certification alone will not convince the government to award you a contract. You’ll win a contract because of how well you communicate the value of your products or services.
For small businesses that have their certification logos on the top of their websites and on the front of their business cards. This is a complete failure in understanding general business strategy. You know what that tells government buyers and large system integrators? You’re marketing your belief that the value of your company is that you are a minority, a woman, or a Veteran. Think about that.
The approach and the tactics to winning government contracts are size agnostic. 70 percent of RSM Federal’s clients are small business; the rest midsize to billion-dollar companies. I’m working with a large business right now that is stagnant because they are having challenges communicating their value.
They can tell you all about the contracts they have with DISA and DoD, the contract values, and the services they provide, but they’ve lost sight of how they grew their businesses.
They’re having challenges communicating value with quantifiable metrics. This is the exact same problem faced by the small business community. Small and large businesses have different operational challenges, but the core strategies for marketing and business development are exactly the same.”
ExecutiveBiz: In terms of your overall business strategy, what are the key values or bits of knowledge that you hope government contractors take away from your coaching, books and work with RSM Federal?
“Almost 50 percent of contractors on the GSA Schedule fail to successfully win a single government contract. It’s not because they don’t have solid products or services, then why do so many contractors on the most recognizable contract vehicle fail to win contracts?
Two companies sell the exact same product or service. The owners and managers have the same levels of education, attend the same conferences, read the same book and attend the same training. How does one company generate $300 million in revenue and the other only $18 million?
These two scenarios are real-world and they happen every day. The reason is that it’s not what you learn and it’s not simply the sales strategy you put in place. Success is based on how you apply what you’ve learned, the tactics and strategies to get you there.
Whether you’re a small business or large system integrator, it’s about your business developers having the right tactics and strategies to apply what they’ve learned while also knowing how to manage a programmatic teaming strategy, getting out from behind their computer and engaging the government and 80 percent of your time focused on building opportunity in pre-acquisition.”
Joshua Frank is an award-winning business coach, professional speaker and bestselling author. He is a notable authority on government sales and business acceleration, with more than three decades of experience in the government market.
Frank’s seminars are frequently the top-rated sessions at national conferences and events. His coaching has assisted companies to win more than $2.8 billion in government contracts and $30 billion in indefinite-delivery contracts.
Join ExecutiveBiz Events to learn about Joshua Frank’s many successes, tips for government contractors, and more information on his acclaimed book, “An Insider’s Guide to Winning Government Contracts,” on August 26th.
To register for How to Win Government Contracts with Joshua Frank and view upcoming opportunities, visit ExecutiveBiz Events’ Main Page.