You Can't be a Loner to Win Government Contracts; You Need a Team
We love those butt-kicking, independent spirit types, don't we? They're probably our favorite characters in movies. Invariably, they'll use the line (or some variation of it), "If it's to be, it's up to me" (although that line was probably written by a self-help book author). Sometimes, they might just be right...until they try selling to the government.
Yeah, you're going to need to be an independent self-starter with a healthy dose of determination to sell the government. But, that's not what's really going to win government deals (at least, by itself).
To win government sales, teamwork is required. In fact, no selling situation requires teamwork more than government sales.
The people I've seen be really good at selling to government have learned to manage their egos and develop leadership and team-building chops. They know they're going to need help, both internally and externally. For example, who's been successful selling to the government without a good client coach? No one. What about those who don't have a good relationship with - or at least understand what drives the people who drive the buses. You know, the ones who take the company where it's going a.k.a. the bosses.
Or, what about having a relationship with the people in the company who manage the product and services - the folks who determine product direction and futures? I've heard some government salespeople call product management the "sales prevention team". They would say, "I keep bringing the company good opportunities that I could close if only product management didn't shut me down by saying 'we can't do that, it's not in our product roadmap,' etc." These salespeople didn't complain too long, though. They weren't selling enough to keep their jobs.
What about the marketing people? You've probably heard, "I sure could sell more if marketing would give me better leads".
Then, there are the government salespeople who consistently make their quota and find themselves at the table when the big decisions are made. What do you want to bet that they've got good relationships with product management and marketing, even though they don't always get yes's from product management and marketing? But, they sell anyway. And, guess who's standing by their side when they sell. Product management and marketing, of course.
You see, these high performing salespeople have figured out how to make the product management and marketing folks part of their team. They may not always get the answers they want but, they know they'll always get the best efforts from their team and be kept in the loop. They can use that cooperation and insight when they're working with their prospects.
Here's one of the best ways you can build your team. Invite potential teammates on sales calls. I know what you might be thinking. Are you kidding me? Do I really want someone who keeps telling me "no", and who has no sales skills, in the room with me? They may say something that kills the deal.
Snap out of it! Their presence will be appreciated by the client. They'll appreciate the fact that they now will know more about what potential clients are saying. This will only help you. They might even say something in the meeting that will help prevent the deal dying. Plus, you're all going to get to know each other better. Heck, there may even be a cold beer involved. How can you lose?
Yes, you may like the loners in the movies, but I bet they can't sell to the government. Get better at collaborating and building your own team, and you'll be much more successful selling to government. I promise!