A mantra I find myself repeating frequently to clients is that any business of any size can win government work if they can demonstrate persistence, focus and patience.
Success in government can happen but it takes time. The key is to just keep going and not lose faith or focus.
To illustrate this I want to share the experience of one of our clients – a small to medium enterprise (SME) with up to 20 staff in the ICT (digital strategies) space.
After a number of unsuccessful attempts at responding to government tenders, this particular client was wondering whether government was for them – especially when a) it seemed government had already been sold on a solution and b) there was a strong incumbent.
But instead of giving up, the company stayed focused, persevered with their strategy (adapting it as they learnt through the process), and remained patient – and ultimately won significant government business with strong prospects for more.
So what can you learn from their experience?
BE FOCUSED – The company focused on the one government department.
Rather than spending a lot of time responding to tenders all over the place, the company focused on the one industry sector and repeatedly engaged with the same government department. This meant the department was able to build a strong picture of this company’s strengths and desire to win the business.
Once the company was successful in winning a contract with that department, it was later offered further work coming out of a project for which they had originally unsuccessfully tendered for. The company also now has a strong supporter in this department, and can use this relationship to create other government business opportunities.
BE PERSISTENT – The company responded to every relevant tender released by that department.
This means the company took every opportunity to engage with their target department. It is so important to understand that tendering is a key marketing activity. Tendering provides an ideal channel to deliver detailed information about your company, people, expertise and experience to a group of government people who must read it in detail.
Furthermore, every time the company was unsuccessful, it asked for a formal debrief to understand how to improve its tender responses. This is ‘step 2’ in government marketing, where your government contact gets to find out more about your business, strengths and points of differentiation.
BE PATIENT – The company understood that good things come to those who wait.
The company could have given up after the third unsuccessful tender, but had the patience to wait. I see so many companies fall at the last hurdle – when if they had the patience and persistence they might have soon been successful.
IMPROVE AND ADAPT – The company learnt from its unsuccessful experiences.
Through attending debriefs and gaining knowledge about its target department, the company improved its tendering process and made sure it offered as attractive a proposition to government as possible:
- Communicating its unique selling point – Many companies offer digital strategies and website solutions, making it hard to differentiate from competitors. This company understood the core strengths in its design and delivery process, and was able to describe this as a unique selling point in its tender response.
- Understanding government policies – This company took the time to understand government policies at the federal government level and its application to the state level, further increasing its attractiveness.
- Offering value-add initiatives* – The company introduced additional value-add initiatives into their service offering, which helped differentiate its tender response from others and came to be considered in the overall cost assessment of their solution.
The moral of this story is: Don’t give up! This client is just one example of many, many companies I see from varied industry sectors achieve government business success from persistence, focus and patience.
Please contact us if you’d like to discuss how you can improve your approaches to government, or you may like to sign up to our newsletter. If you want it, you can do it.
*In addition to building the value story in your tender response, you should also always offer value add initiatives. Value adds are a free kick to differentiate your tender response from others. They are also considered when assessing the overall cost to government of buying your product or service. A value add initiative is also a great strategy for offering the government more during the negotiation round, when you are unable to reduce your costs further.
As published on Mia Consulting Services Website.