If you want to win different types of government contracts, you are either going to need to learn to be really good at bidding on government contracts or good at building relationships when you're selling to government. Actually, you need to be able to do both. Yes, there are strategies we teach as government contracts consultants that can keep you from bidding blindly on government contracts. They can be quite effective and are explored in other blog posts and in our podcast, Myths of Selling to Government. At the heart of the strategies for government sales pipeline management is building relationships with your prospects.
There's really no wining and dining in government sales, but if you're smart, listening well and working hard you can "get in front of the RFP". That's basically when you are working closely with your prospect well before a government RFP is issued. We talk often in our podcast about how to do this.
A key is building commitment and trust, always important in business (not to mention life), but particularly so when you're trying to win government contracts. Government prospects need to see that you're genuinely interesting in helping them solve their problems.
We present three strategies in our book for building commitment and trust.
Discover and nurture shared values. Put yourself in a position to learn more about your prospects. Listen carefully. Repeat, listen carefully. Look for those things where you share values. Don't fake it.
Building a strong case for how you're providing benefits and remind your prospects of those benefits.
Increase termination costs. In other words, make it more difficult for them to do without you. No, being heavy handed won't work. It will hurt. The best way to increase termination costs: Do what you set out to do in the first place: solve their problem!
Remember, the government doesn't want to change vendors. Remember how hard it was to make them a customer? It's tough for them, too. Keep termination costs high and keep the customer.