Want to Win Government Contracts? Find Shared Values
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the benefits of building relationships in our efforts to be top performers and building sales pipelines for local, state, and federal government sales, we look at the hows.
We start with discovering and nurturing shared values. Shared values are simply beliefs or principles commonly agreed upon. Strong shared values indicate two people are like-minded on what’s important or unimportant, and what is right or wrong.
While “shared values” sound like deep, complex sets of beliefs, they can be fairly mundane (like sports, hobbies or activities) if they are truly important to the exchange partner. Interestingly, research has shown shared values is the only component to impact both relationship commitment and trust at the same time.
It is a concept we all know. Each of us has met people with whom we’ve “hit it off”. Many times, the connection is made through discovery of some shared belief, practice. It can be as superficial or deep.
You’ve probably heard the rapport-building advice that upon entering a prospect’s office (or seeing them on screen), you should look for ways to connect on an individual level. Pictures of family? Talk about your kids. Golf trophies on her bookshelf? Tell her about your trip to Pebble Beach. These cues are indicators of some interest or value that could provide a connection point.
The goal, according to traditional thinking, is to establish personal rapport through aligning oneself with the prospect’s interest. It is decent advice on the surface, as honing in on government contracts prospect passions is clearly an effective method for easing initial introductions.
However, deeper relationship building requires expanding this practice beyond the initial meeting into the full sales cycle. Salespeople should move past thinking the method is just an ice-breaking gimmick. Instead, focus on ways to build a deeper shared value framework.
There’s no wining and dining in government sales…and, if there is, it really should be dutch. But, shared values can still be established in short order. Those who influence government buying are generally passionate, multi-faceted, and interesting people. They don’t mind talking about their interests, and will appreciate your interest…as long as it’s not forced or insincere.
So, how do you make this work? Here are some key steps:
Observe and listen: Make a concerted and discreet effort to become more aware of interests and values of your government prospect.
Capture: Make notes in your CRM about the interests and values you uncover.
Review: Revisit the values you have observed and capture for your entire government prospect list regularly.
Collect: Be on constant lookout for things you know will pique your prospects’ interest or tap into mutually shared values.
Share: Commit to passing along content that will be of interest to prospects and reinforce shared values. Don’t make a big deal out of your efforts, and don’t try to squeeze in a heavy sales pitch. Just “I saw this and thought of you” will suffice. Even if you didn’t write it, pass it along. Heck, we’ve even passed along helpful information from a competitor. We were remembered quite fondly for that.
Be Genuine: Trying to “force” shared values where none really exist will backfire on you. It is certainly fine to appear interested in your prospect’s passion for Matt Damon enamel dinner plates, but pretending to have that same love without any real emotional tie will be easily detected, ultimately working against you. Even if you don’t have a mutual level of interest in something, recognition of its importance to the prospect will go a long way.
You’ll be amazed at how much mileage you’ll get from tuning into shared values. It will help you build your sales pipeline and advance the sales cycle when seeking government contracts and you won't even know which of your efforts worked. (And, it really doesn't matter.)