Take-away: the key ingredients for repeatable success in public sector sales are:
- Market knowhow;
- Technical excellence, product/service differentiators;
Success is clear evidence of a job well done, but is there a recipe for repeatable success in public sector sales? Surely if you are passionate about the public sector and want to develop a business in this field, you have asked yourself this question.
For repeatable success, it is crucial to set your priorities and clarify the mix of ingredients to help your business grow.
To succeed in the public sector, you need to understand your market and your customers. Where is the money? Who buys? What they buy? Why? How much? Their needs. What tools and processes they use or prefer. Regulations. Who is your competition and who are the potential partners. Who sells. What. Where. How. Trends and market dynamics: who are the incumbents, the dogs, the new stars, the cash-cows.
Market understanding and know-how is input to all the other processes and success factors in public sector sales.
A good market analysis tool should help to:
- Understand funding sources and authorities, including budgets and activities.
- Understand the actors, competition, possible partnerships: who receives funding, for what, how, where, how much.
- Understand the technologies, products, needs and motivations behind public financing.
Another important factor influencing success in public sector sales is presales. This requires a competent team, a clear process, asssets such as references, CVs, certifications, technical proposals, and innovation. Those important elements will help build a healthy and solid foundation for your business will support in the long term.
Presales and bid processes are the single most important difference between the business-to-government sales process and the other markets, such as consumer, retail, B2B. Public procurement is a formal process, requiring a series of steps and evaluation, and a specific vocabulary.
The key steps in the evaluation of a tenderer or proposal are: eligibility check, selection using financial and technical criteria such as experts, references and expertise, technical evaluation and financial/price evaluation.
Solid presales capacity consists mainly of a strong team formed of the right people: bid managers, technical writers, architects, project managers, pricing specialists. It also includes a set of processes
The evaluation of proposals in the public sector is formal, therefore the most important attribute of presales is rigorousity.
In order to establish an efficient, repeatable presales process, you need to rely on a solid library of assets: company and product descriptions, certifications, partnerships, CVs of experts, references, letters of recommendation.
The sales step is important because you will see the results of your work, but here too it is important to respect the sales process which contains the following elements.
A competent sales and business development will follow the entire sales process, including:
- Market analysis and understanding;
- Market positioning;
- Opportunity monitoring;
- Tender qualification;
- Networking, partnerships;
- Proposal/bid process;
- Negotiation and signing contracts;
- Monitoring contract execution.
Price is an essential factor that can bring success in the public sector if you set it right.
Financial proposals are always part of the evaluation of public sector proposals, with typical weights between 30 to 70% of the final evaluation score of individual tenders. In specific cases, the price is even the sole evaluation criterion.
For setting the right price, you need to analyze the competition, customer’s budgets, history of prices and trends, and the competition. Positioning in a niche allows you to increase prices. On a crowded market, you need to go low.
Understanding the market and the level of competition is the single most important factor for pricing.
Technical excellence, product/service differentiators
It is important to know and develop your differentiators and have excellent technical skills to bring something new. Service, product and technical quality is always required, on any market, including the public sector.
The brand is built from individual ingredients, out of which we could underline technical excellence, reputation, and local or international presence – i.e. being perceived near your customers, not only from a geographic point of view, but also technically and culturally.
Success requires a mix of ingredients.
Generally speaking, the key ingredients for any endeavor are: the right people, processes, and tools.
More specifically, for public sector sales these should focus on developing market know-how, presales capacity, sales capacity, technical excellence and brand.