How many times has this happened? You've been working on winning a nice government contract or a long time, a very long time. The sales cycle is in its15th month! You've done a good job throughout the sales cycle. You've developed a good understanding of the pain they're trying to eliminate. You've presented a strong, well-received case for how your solution can solve the pain. Your price is right. Your client coach tells you that you're doing great, everyone is on board, and you've won the deal.
You ask your client coach about their government procurement process. You're told it should go smoothly from here out. Then, WHAMMO, you find out that it's going out to a government bid. It turns out that your client coach didn't understand the process as well as she thought. Often the coach is the one closest to the pain; that's one of the reasons she makes a good coach. However, if she hasn't been involved much in procuring big solutions, she may not fully understand the process.
You've just learned (the hard way) that you've got to reverse roles and become the coach yourself. At some point after becoming the preferred vendor, start talking to the coach about the buying process. Coach your coach to help you learn more. When your coach is unsure, encourage him to find out. Better yet, find someone in procurement who will talk to you!
There's always a buying process, one that's separate from the selling process in the government sales cycle. And, it varies from organization-to-organization and solution-to-solution (despite efforts to make it consistent). Become a student of the buying process. Consider it your mission to know more about it than anyone else. It sure will make those account reviews with your boss easier, and make your government sales pipeline more predictable (a story for another time).
We talk more about understanding the sales process in our Myths of Selling to Government podcast episode, "One of the Biggest Mistakes in Winning Government Contracts."
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