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The Three Biggest Brick Walls in Prospecting–and How to Overcome Them

April 12, 2023 | Business Development, Government

When you’re launching a government contracting business, finding new prospects can be a daunting task. With a complex procurement process and a vast pool of potential customers, it can be challenging to identify and reach out to the right decision-makers. However, your success depends on your ability to prospect effectively. With this in mind, here are some of the most significant barriers you will face–and how to overcome them. 

  • Not doing enough research. Many prospective government contractors take a “ready, fire, aim” approach–and often miss the best opportunities as a result. To be efficient in prospecting, it’s important to consider the following factors:
  • Who buys what you sell?
  • How do they buy it? What’s their process? Do they use contract vehicles? Do they prefer working with a specific socio-economic business status?
  • If you’re teaming up with a partner, be sure you have a reason to do so. Do they have something you want (their small business status, a customer relationship, or expertise)? Make sure you have something they want (ability to recruit people, capital, or strategic partnership with a large company like Microsoft or Salesforce). Don’t do it just because of their status especially if it looks like they have no experience in your industry. Also, don’t choose them because they included you in an email blast and you’re desperate to find a teaming partner.

The solution: use your resources. If you don’t know how to research, teach yourself or get help from an expert, who can either train you or do it for you. There are plenty of options out there–including a webinar hosted by Earnest Consulting Group later this month. We’ll share tips about how to use SAM’s Databank to discover who buys what you sell. Sign up here

Start by getting to know possible teaming partners. Find out what type of contracts they have and learn what others have to say about them.

  • Not communicating value. There are two common mistakes would-be contractors make when it comes to differentiating themselves from other vendors:
  • Not using metrics. Even those with high quality, best-in-class products can miss the mark by not quantifying their value. 

The solution: include metrics. When you draft an email or calling script, communicate your specific value through numbers. Here’s an example: “Our product helps care for over 1 million patients at 28 VA hospitals across the country.”

  • Confusing your socioeconomic status with value. Just saying you’re a veteran/minority/woman-owned small business won’t cut it. Your value is not your small business status. 

The solution: Don’t even mention your small business status. Communicate your value and let it come up in conversation later.

  • Not having confidence. If you don’t exude confidence in your emails, phone calls or meetings, prospects can sense it. They don’t want to work with someone who doesn’t appear to know their stuff. You have to communicate that you can help their organization. 

The solution: Polish your communication. Have a trusted resource proof your emails. Use scripts for guidance with phone calls and have key points written out, but don’t read a script verbatim. Emails prospects before making a call to warm up the next interaction. Practice calls and leave voicemails on colleagues and mentors and solicit their feedback.

Working with a mentor or coach can help in all of these areas. Their experience and fresh outlook can help you see your blind spots as well as help you think differently about a problem. If Earnest Consulting Group can help, connect with me on LinkedIn or at [email protected]. We’ll work with you to anticipate the challenges ahead–and overcome them.


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MYTH: Providing goods and services to the government means you have to wait forever to get paid.

FACT: Many government contracts are subject to the Prompt Payment Act which was enacted to ensure the federal government makes timely payments. Bills are to be paid within 30 days after receipt and acceptance of goods/services or after receipt of an invoice whichever is last. If a timely payment is not made, interest should be automatically paid.

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