immixGroup’s Tim Larkins is a star on the rise in the world of public sector technology. He is not an engineer or a software developer. He doesn’t head a federal contractor or systems integration firm.
Rather, Tim is in the business of helping cybersecurity, cloud, mobile, infrastructure and other product vendors navigate the complex and often confusing world of federal government sales, marketing and procurement.
And from the standing room only break out session at this week’s Government IT Sales Summit in Reston, Virginia, it is apparent that a myriad of companies hope to tap into Larkins’ expertise to claim a slice of the $80B federal agencies spend on technology products, services and solutions each year.
Here are a few compelling quotes from Tim’s presentation, entitled Fundamentals of Selling to the Government.
“The last thing you want to do is sit with a federal customer and ask, ‘how can I help you?’ Do your homework. (Federal government) agencies make public their areas of major and non-major investments in technology in a document called Exhibit 53. These are accessible online at ITdashboard.gov.”
(Larkins did note that intelligence community agencies do not publish Exhibit 53 documents.)
“In the federal government market, CIOs do not buy anything. They are policy-oriented. In some cases, they may even serve more of a figurehead role. The most important person in the procurement process is the program manager. They have responsibility for requirement definition, identification of funding and vendor selection. They will often seek CIO validation for executive support. But, it’s the program managers who you want to meet with.”
“The silver tsunami issue is real. Retirements are leading to an inflow of younger and less experienced program managers and contracting officers. Vendors need to have knowledge and expertise in the laws that guide procurement. If a vendor doesn’t comply, their deals will die.”
“Only seven percent of (contract) protests result in an overturn of an award. Protesting is a waste of resources.”
“The typical federal sales cycle is 12 to 24 months per deal. A motivated customer might make it happen in six months. It’s important for government sales and marketing reps to set realistic expectations with their corporate executives.”
Marc Hausman is president and CEO of Strategic Communications Group (Strategic), a Washington, DC-based Web2Sales consultancy that helps B2B technology, software, telecom and cybersecurity companies more quickly identify and nurture sales-ready leads. Read more on his blog at http://www.thestrategicguy.com.