The INPUT Executive Program (IEP) recently presented its latest research report, “You’re Only as Good as the Customer Thinks You Are: Harmonizing Industry/Government Communications” According to the report, government buyers are only hearing the right messages, at the right time in the acquisition cycle, from a small number of companies. The perception among government is that most of industry’s approach to communication is wrong, but the companies that get it “right” are raising expectations and gaining competitive advantage.
“Some top tier companies are finding that a well-orchestrated plan for communicating your proposed solution -- what we call ‘communication choreography’ -- helps build sales momentum,” said Melissa Smith, director, IEP research for INPUT. “Companies need any advantage they can get in the current market of increased solution buying, flat budgets, greater competition, and the compressed acquisition cycle of task order buying.”
IEP interviewed government acquisition and policy executives, program managers, and Office of the CIO (OCIO) executives, as well as members of industry for the report. Many of those government officials complained that industry does not know when to educate and when to sell. “The recurring message that we heard from government is that many times they just want ideas,” said Smith.
“Those ideas may lead to a possible sale, but later.” Interviewees believed that industry generally does a good job of educating government, but could do a better job of helping agencies apply larger trends to their specific environments.
Government executives consistently expressed the need for industry to speak up when the government’s plans may not yield the desired results. “One OCIO official said that industry has to have the guts to say when something stinks, and not just give them what they ask for. Government buyers look to industry for their expertise, and they need contractors to give them a reality check if they are going in the wrong direction,” added Smith.
IEP’s report also provides details on what companies should do during different times in the sales cycle to maximize their relationships with their government clients. “Companies without an overarching communication strategy will either need to increase their level of effort to make up for the lack of momentum, or simply fall behind,” said Smith.
INPUT (www.input.com) is the authority on government business. Established in 1974, INPUT provides the latest and most comprehensive procurement and market information, consulting, powerful sales management tools, and educational & networking events.
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