My small, woman-owned public relations/marketing firm, Advice Unlimited, has been serving the Federal government marketplace for nearly 30 years to help companies with innovative technology get their solutions to the government. Every month, I’ll offer unlimited advice on how to work with this unique market. Please email me with questions or comments.

Advice Unlimited

Advice Unlimited

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Understanding the Federal Government as a Customer

Understanding your customer is an important step towards effectively communicating the value of your products and services. There are three key differences between government markets and commercial markets, differences you can act on to improve your success.

1.) Efficiency. Government agencies are not driven by profitability or the bottom line. They strive for efficiency. How will your product or service help them do more with less?

2.) Uniqueness. All government agencies feel strongly that they are unique, and they are. The responsibility is upon you, as the person hoping to sell to them, to:
• learn about the government marketplace as a whole,
• learn about the specific agency and division you want to sell to, and
• understand what they do, their specific challenges, and how your product or service can provide a solution for these challenges, to help them meet their mission.

3.) Procurement. The procurement process is significantly different in the government space: it is designed to protect against bias and ensure equality with the end result that it is more comprehensive, more complex and more challenging to the sales process. In addition, government agencies are huge enterprise organizations with many different decisionmakers for various programs and offices. This often makes it difficult (but not impossible!) to target who your salespeople should be calling on, and where your public relations and marketing efforts should be targeted.

Smart government agency executives champion solutions, not products or services. They embrace those vendors who can clearly communicate how their products or services provide solutions to their unique challenges, and who consistently deliver on their promises.