While the federal government remains the world’s fortune one customer, spending over $500 billion purchasing services and products every single year, the market is constantly changing and confounding large and small businesses alike. As one takes stock of the successes and failures in reaching last year’s sales goals and planning for growth in 2020, it is critical to take into account factors beyond one’s control and plan for all possible contingencies in order to reach 2020 growth goals.
Factors beyond a business’ control in the federal government marketplace include repetitive continuing resolutions, government shutdowns, agencies shifting funds, the choppy beta.SAM.gov rollout, changing political priorities and acquisition strategies’ seismic shift to best in class and limited multiple award contract vehicles. Even with these challenging times it is possible to create a strategic business development plan and pipeline to achieve a higher probability of winning contracts and return on investment (ROI) within the selling services and products to the federal and military customer.
The core business challenge is failing to develop a large enough diversified pipeline that spans a wide range of targets and opportunities in all stages of development and to not be focused only the concept of capture. While capture is a key stage, it often creates a hyper-focused situation reliant upon the status-quo which can quickly evaporate as a result of the aforementioned situations. One is much better served in developing a measurable year-round corporate proactive relationship-building process communicating the appropriate differentiators to all federal decision-makers.
Growth-oriented firms can no longer afford the myopic process of building a pipeline that is only based on the dollar value of the contract. One must diversify not just target customers, but also strategies to include priming, teaming and subcontracting as well as pursuing contracts that can be performed, invoiced and paid through continuing resolutions and even government shutdowns. This may mean adding capabilities not normally in one’s wheelhouse meeting the program maintenance needs of a customer, and not only pursuing the cutting-edge technologies and new programs.
The massive shift to multiple-award contracts (MACs) and the current 37 best-in-class contract vehicles (BIC) is a game-changer for all federal contractors. As an example, opportunities for small businesses prime contracts have fallen by 11 percent for those winning prime positions on MACs and 17 percent winning on non-MACs according to a recent report by the Small Business Administration (SBA.) These mandated vehicles also affect large businesses as well, with all agencies, civilian and military, incorporating the limited BICs and MACs into their acquisition strategies in order to reduce contract management overhead and costs.
Planning for trackable, measurable 2020 federal business growth is an exercise in creative thinking coupled with a deep understanding of the challenges in today’s marketplace. Nonetheless, the federal civilian and military customers will continue to award over $550 billion to large and small businesses throughout the year, with those companies adapting to the constantly-changing business environment the clear winners.
Gloria Larkin is President and CEO of TargetGov, American Express Procurement Advisor and a national expert in business development in the government markets. Email glorialarkinTG@targetgov.com, visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 x 325 for more information.