What To Do When You Get In The Door
By Mike Sade
Once you have done your research and have identified your target agencies, you will need to reach out and find the right people to meet. Once you get your “foot in the door” and a meeting is scheduled there are some important tips to remember.
First you must realize you are not the first company to meet with them, and they are probably accepting the meeting because it is part of their job. You may only have thirty minutes to an hour to meet. Having done your research you know what they buy, what challenges they face, and how they buy. Your challenge is to peak their interest. How do you do that?
Second, you should have a presentation prepared that includes a brief history of your company including your business size, any socio-economic status (Small, Minority, Woman-owned, Veteran, or Service-Disabled), and a client list. This part of the presentation should not exceed one or two slides. The bulk of your presentation should focus on outcomes you have demonstrated with clients similar to the agency/individuals you are meeting. In terms of results, they should be focused on cost, schedule, customer satisfaction and all be related to what you learned about the agency and the issues they face.
Third, you must make the meeting a conversation about your accomplishments and how you believe you can help the agency. During the conversation, you need to ask probing questions leveraging the knowledge you have gained from your earlier research. Questions such as: Who is helping you with the issues you face? What are you looking for in a solution? What performance metrics do you use? What is your timeframe for solving your problem?
Finally, make sure you leave with a sense of who are the right individuals to follow-up with that you can have further discussions. This can include technical leads or the contracting office. Make sure you follow up with any action items you may get from the meeting. These may include providing additional detail on a project you performed, a whitepaper on how you would approach an explicit problem, or other clients they can contact to see how they handled a similar puzzle.
You will know when you leave the meeting if you peaked their interest in your company and if that agency holds promise for future business. Don’t be discouraged if you have a sense there is no interest in what you are offering the agency. Learn from the meeting. Are there other organizations and contracts that are facing similar situations that you may want to research and meet?
I welcome feedback and questions on additional topics on doing business with the government you would like me address.
Mike Sade spent his career in federal procurement before founding his Alexandria consulting company, Sade Associates, LLC, www.sadeassocllc.com. He welcomes your feedback and suggestions for future columns and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.