Installment 16: Distinguishing Messages Win in the Federal Market

Outsider Perception: Selling to the federal government is more difficult than selling to commercial counterparts.

Reality: It is and it isn't. Although the process is the same in both markets, your sales pitch to federal buyers must be more thorough and effective due to the level of competition your business is facing.

Lesson: Develop a distinguishing message to get through federal doors and establish personal relationships with buyers.

Background:

Everyone thinks their competitors are worthless and that they alone have the best product or service known to man. Federal end users have heard "we are the best" so many times that it makes them scream when they hear it. End users want to hear simple facts backed with evidence. Because they have hundreds or thousands of vendors barraging them with messages, you have to have a sales pitch which distinguishes you from the rest. Offer "green" products. Consider having a past federal customer contact the end user to provide a reference.

Distinguish yourself through your initial message to the customer. Federal buyers are like any other buyers in that they want to talk with only those companies that sell what they need. You need a distinguishing message to get through the glass wall encountered by all sales people, commercial or federal. Your message should not be delivered via a link to a web site or a glossy brochure. Such tactics don't work in today's market. Both give the immediate impression that you don't want to take the time to determine what the federal purchaser needs. The message delivered must cut to the heart of the customer's problem. The sales pitch must be individually tailored to the federal buyer's specific needs. Otherwise, it will be quickly cast aside or dismissed.

The following examples show how a message may be crafted to meet the needs of the customer. Let's assume you are an office supply vendor and your headquarters is located near a military base. How do you distinguish your company from the numerous other players in your market? Your message to the base's procurement officer should stress the service you provide in conjunction with the sale of your products. Consider the following sales pitches:

  1. We have a GSA Schedule contract and we will do all of the paperwork for you. We stock everything you need and can have it at your delivery points within an hour.
  2. If you have problems with a particular product, it will be replaced within three hours.
  3. If you need anything beyond what we sell, we will find it and include it in your order.
  4. Our sales staff and management will be available 24/7 and we will give you our personal cell phone numbers to contact us.

Professional services are inherently difficult for buyers to evaluate because their value is intangible. Your message for professional services might be:

  1. We are experts in the subject matter required for your solution and we have compiled a list of references for your perusal.
  2. We understand your needs and the solicitation's requirements because we have solved similar problems. Brief descriptions of our previous solutions are attached.
  3. Attached is the resume for our proposed project manager.
  4. Here's my cell phone number and I am available 24/7.
  5. I will call you to set up a meeting to discuss our proposed solution.

Consider using any or all of the above suggestions as part of your sales pitch. Deliver it by e-mail and follow up with a personal sales call. Better yet, deliver your message in person and take someone along with you who knows the customer.

Installment Series:

Installment 1: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Installment 2: Make the World's Biggest Customer Your Own
Installment 3: Market Research in the Federal Sector
Installment 4: Become an Insider in the Federal Market
Installment 5: Competition and Price Sensitivity in the Federal Market
Installment 6: Are Federal Bids Wired?
Installment 7: Fundamentals of Federal Contracting
Installment 8: Making a Federal Sale
Installment 9: Closing a Federal Sale
Installment 10: Start with the Credit Card and Quick Buy Markets for Smaller Transactions
Installment 11: Consider Starting as a Subcontractor to a Prime
Installment 12: Selling Directly to Prime Contractors
Installment 13: Pre-approved Government Price Lists
Installment 14: Getting a Pre-approved Federal Price List for Your Company
Installment 15: Small Business Preference Programs
Installment 16: Distinguishing Messages Win in the Federal Market
Installment 17: Selling to Federal Agencies Located in Your Backyard
Installment 18: Getting Started in Federal Sales
Installment 19: Don't Get Caught Up in Red Tape
Installment 20: Steps to Take After Winning Your First Federal Contract 
Installment 21: Learn How to Write Federal Proposals
Installment 22: Prosper in the Federal Market

Fedmarket has been helping companies win government business since 1995. We have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other trade publications. Our customer testimonials speak to our competence and expertise in helping customers win federal business. We have been singled out by public and private organizations -- including the Small Business Administration and federally-funded Procurement Technical Assistance Centers -- as the most comprehensive government contracting resource in the industry. Our web site's free content includes informative newsletters on GSA Schedules, Proposal Writing and Federal Business Development.

Visit Fedmarket
For inquiries, call 888 661 4094. Press 2.


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