Back in May 2006, Government Leader (an offering of PostNewsweek Tech Media now 1105 Media) presented the article:
Vendor, Vidi, Vici: How to make pitches from industry work for you
where the reporter solicited feedback from current and retired government executives on
the topic of industry meetings. The article started like this:
It’s inevitable. You have to take meetings with vendor representatives.
You can try to ignore phone calls and e-mails, or stay under the radar
by not speaking at events where you can be easily approached. But you
can’t hold back the sea—ultimately, if you’re an government executive
of any consequence, you’ll have to listen to a sales pitch.
been waiting for a follow-on (or two) but alas, Government Leader is no
more! It was a very good article and one I've referenced in
conversation and in practice, often. But in light of the exodus of
companies previously part of the "selling to the government isn't for
" crowd who are now feverishly chasing traditionally-funded and stimulus-funded opportunities, on top of the legions of new sales and business development folks who
have joined us in the last few years, I thought it fitting to make a
contribution in the same spirit.Time waits for no man (or woman)!
full disclosure, I have dramatically changed how I schedule meetings. Those I request as well as those requested of me. The reason? Time is
the most obvious answer, but one that pulls a close second is
relevance. When I request a meeting I clearly state why I want the
meeting and what I hope to come away with from the meeting. This way,
whomever I am making the request of can tell me if they are the right
resource. On more than one occasion since implementing this practice, the person I thought was
the best source has actually invited additional or more relevant people to the
meeting, making it a better use of time all around.
Likewise, I am stingy with meetings I accept. While B2G corporate members of The ASBC (CORE
™ and PrimeConnection
Members) have priority placement on my schedule, even they must
establish expectations for the meeting and provide ample time for me to complete research to ensure I'm going into the meeting with as many of my "ducks in a row" as possible. Without a clear idea of the goal of the meeting, I don't confirm. And I don't do lunch
meetings or capability briefings. Let me clarify. If you are not someone I already have a
relationship with, a meal-based meeting is not an option as it's just not
a good use of time. And if you are not already a member of The
ASBC, I cannot sit down with you to hear about the products and services your company provides or your
goals in the government sector. The ASBC is focused on creating winning situations for our Members and
it is not sensible or fair for us to let someone take me to lunch to pick my
brain. The only Not Yet Members
my board (and my boss!) allow me to
meet with are from the Government and the same expectation exists (they have to set expectations for the meeting as well).No Dog and Pony Show, Please!
are plenty of opportunities where companies can "show their wares" but
trying to schedule a meeting with decision-makers just to do an overall
capability briefing is inefficient. If you have a chance to get an
audience with an agency or industry decision-maker, make it count! If
you have done the research necessary to gain the meeting, most likely
you've been able to uncover specific areas of interest if not a
specific requirement they have, which you can use as the basis of your
conversation. For example, how does your offering help them resolve an
issue or achieve greater program efficiency. If the nature of the
meeting is not somewhere along those lines, think about why you are
requesting it. Howdy Pardner.
you are trying to entice another company to partner with you, an
efficient exchange that show's you done your homework and value the
time of the other party can go a long way to making a good impression.
The same level of scrutiny (SWOT, Bid/No-Bid, etc.) you apply to
pursuing opportunities, should apply in some way (if not the exact same
way) to qualifying potential partners. What do they bring to the table?
What do you bring to the table? Is the opportunity one they would be
interested in based on previous awards and company alignment?
Partnerships are crucial to success in the government sector and
putting your best foot forward is crucial to garnering partnerships.
tougher and tougher nowadays to identify the right person to speak with
based on your goal for a meeting. It is your job to qualify if the
meeting is necessary and if the person or group you are reaching out to
is the best resource, and if a meeting of any kind is a good use of
time for everyone involved.
- The Chief Visionary and Executive Officer