I suspect that many of you have come to this website looking for a “deep, dark secret” or “silver bullet” that will give you an “unfair advantage” over the competition in the Federal market, resulting in sole source or very limited source competitions in which you are the favored vendor. That sounds like a mouthful, but is essentially what I have heard from many executives and managers, from both large and small businesses, in strategic planning session. There is a common misconception floating that, if a company can gain access to Federal employees, it can “influence the requirements” and gain unofficial blessing from the buyers.
We have all heard seen the media reports about lucrative “under the radar” sole contracts worth millions, and even billions, of dollars. You may think that you have something the Federal Government cannot do without and that, if you can get in front of the right persons, they will leap on it and you will be able to get a contact with little or no competition. After all, your product or service is unique, so why should they look further?
I hate to shatter your dream, but getting into the Federal market is no different from any other market. To be successful, you must:
- Study the rules of the market;
- Build an infrastructure to support the market;
- Assemble a team with the right personality; and
- Understand your role as it relates to client’s perception and competitive influence.
This website, along with my companion book soon to be published, is my soapbox to communicate my view of the Federal market. You will find that I go against the “common knowledge” and “well-proven techniques” to which many of my colleagues proscribe. The reason for this is not that they are wrong and I am right. We come from different perspectives. Many of them focus on large companies and companies with sufficient funding to follow these approaches. I have found that many small and new businesses do not have the discretionary resources, nor would following these “proven” approaches benefit them. We need creative and innovative approaches to make ourselves stand out in the crowded field of competitors.
As you will see, I have five common themes that will recur throughout my articles:
- Balance: This is my primary theme. Too many companies focus on a single approach and have no recourse if that approach does not produce the results they anticipated.
- Personality: I avoid the overly abused term “culture”. Instead, I use the term “personality” to define the intrinsic nature of a team, organization, customers, or project.
- Communications: In this world of communications technology, I am amazed how little communications really occurs. We have a glut of information sources and many times confuse “saying something” with communicating. I have observed that poor communications is the single largest problem in any company or team.
- Collaboration: Building teams, both strategic and tactical, requires communications, collaboration, and people skills, and is essential to winning and growing business with the Feds. As with communications tool, we now have a plethora (always wanted to use that word) of collaboration tools. However, the use of the tool does not assure collaboration is occurring.
- Attention to Detail: Within the Federal environment, attention to detail is critical. Sometimes, the smallest mistake or oversight can be the difference between winning and losing.
More on all this later. Please enjoy your reading and take the time to complete the “personality assessments” I have provided. Hopefully, they will shed insight into various aspects of your strategy and organization.