Good Opportunity for a Lasting Impression or Last Opportunity for a Good Impression?
one applies to you often depends on how vested you are in learning
about your prospects, their interests and needs, being efficient and
Riddle me this Batman: Why did the prospective customer cross the road? To get away from the meaningless elevator pitch of a salesperson who knew nothing about their needs.
a little harsh? Maybe so, but no more harsh than the sound of the door
of opportunity slamming shut on you, figuratively and literally. By
investing in a little elbow grease, this traumatic experience can often
be avoided or at least minimized.
Okay, no more riddles, let's get down to business.
other day I saw an experienced executive of an experienced small
business being introduced to someone from a large company, one they have
wanted to connect with for sometime.What came next was a horrifying
example of what not to do when presented with this type of opportunity.
The small company executive proceeded to deliver a five minute pitch
about his company starting with (and lingering on) their socioeconomic
designations, briefly noting the civilian agencies they support and hope
to support, and ending with, "so what opportunities do you have that we
can help you with?" Here are the issues. The work done by the small
company had absolutely no relevance to the type of work done by the
large company. This was expressed during the conversation by the large
company rep. The small business was focused on civilian agencies and the
large company was a bona fide defense contractor with no work at a
civilian agency. This was also cited during the conversation. In fact,
the large company rep, who had also worked at other mid-tier and large
companies, offered to make introductions to counterparts at
organizations who better matched what the small company executive was
It was painful to see and hear, but unfortunately it is
not a rare occurence. In fact, it happens so often that I hear about it
from other small companies, folks in government, and representatives of
mid-tier and large companies who are often seeking out viable small
business partners. There have been countless articles written about
meetings where rep's from small, medium and large companies come in
unprepared and offer up a canned "death by PowerPoint" which has little
if any relevance to the needs of the prospect.
For years, I and many others have been saying "Do your homework!"
amount of market information available today, literally at your
fingertips, is amazing and overwhelming. When I first got involved in
government contracting, FedBizOpps was delivered by snail mail and
facsimile (who remembers CBD?). To express your interest in doing
business with a particular agency or one of its activities, you filled
out an SF129 (Standard Form 129 - Solicitation Mailing List) since CCR
did not yet exist. Although the Federal Procurement Data System launched
in 1979, not too many could tap it since access to the Internet only
began in the early eighties and public access to FPDS sometime after
that. In the last fifteen years, various free and fee-based resources
have come available, making volumes and volumes of potentially useful
information easily accessible.
With that said, it also helps if
you know what you are supposed to be looking for and that is something
company leadership should impart either directly or by inference. Too
many people with a business development title are running through the
streets with nary a clue as to what direction they should be going. Why?
No one told them or their leadership simply said "go get business!" So,
what are you looking for? What agency? What organization in the agency?
What initiatives or current programs? Who are the people attached to
the program from Government? Industry? If you can't answer some or all
of these questions, you best keep yourself away from prospective
customers and teaming partners.
Why you ask?
you feel if someone cold-called you to ask for your business but did not
care enough about you or the quality of their work to educate
themselves as to how you currently manage a process, resolved a business
operations issue or found out what is important to you in a service