When trying to enter the federal marketplace as a government contractor, it is important to present your company in as professional and knowledgeable of a manner as possible. The mistakes noted below scream “novice” and will close the door on your success.

* Don’t try to market to every federal agency that MAY be a potential customer. Instead, target the top 5 or 10 agencies.

* Don’t bid on every contract. Pick and choose those that you can effectively manage. Companies have gone out of business “winning” contracts they cannot perform.

* Do not try to be all things to all people. If you go outside your core competency, be prepared to lose focus and confuse your buyers and program managers.

* Do not rely on electronic communications 100% of the time. It is impossible to give a warm handshake in an email. The people you want to do business with want to get to know you. Personally.

* Do not ignore the associations and organizations in which your market participates. Become a member. Be seen where they are seen. Do everything you can to build relationships.

* Do not assume that your web site is 100% government contact and contract-friendly. Government procurement personnel, program managers and end users should be able to see that you are ready to do business on their terms right from the home page. And it goes without saying – your email should reflect your web site, never use a free or non-professional domain name. You may have a multimillion-dollar company, but if you are using something like doug123@yahoo.com or anything@aol.com, you will be perceived as a non-professional.

* Do not expect people to stay year to year.

Realize that turnover in government procurement exceeds 40% a year. The people you knew last year may not be there this year. You have to maintain regular contact and take the time to build new relationships when needed.

* Do not expect contracting officers to make it easy for you. Instead, go out of your way to make their job as easy as possible. Do your research and be totally prepared at each point of contact – claiming ignorance is a huge turnoff to doing business.

* Do not expect “low hanging fruit.” It takes time. You may be lucky enough to pick some low hanging fruit, but don’t bet the farm on it. Plan for a 12 to 18 or even 24-month business development cycle.

* Do not be inconsistent. Pleasant persistence pays. Be in touch regularly. Take the time to touch base. If you don’t your competition will.

Government contracting is a complicated process, and successful business development is key to creating the relationships that will open the door to winning contracts. Invest the time to learn the ropes for business development success.

For more information visit http://www.targetgov.com

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