Have you thought about the steps that must unfold on the path to garnering support for your federal government sale? I have identified seven; they are simple, yet essential. Think of the stairsteps in the graphic below.
Stage 1 – At the beginning, there may or may not be awareness of what it is that you’re offering to the government. A general awareness that has to be planted with your customer constellation – and that’s on you to start the conversation. Get yourself out there in the public domain. You could do it in any of the various rings of influence, but you’re the one that’s going to start the dialogue, one way or the other.
Stage 2 – There may or may not be interest, initially. You have to get the audience interested. Is your offering evolutionary or revolutionary? You might have some new way to accomplish something. There may be a new technology. It could be something radically different that you’re bringing forward.
Stage 3 – If you believe you have customer interest, now you want to give the audience a chance to explore the capability. It may be something like touching and seeing some actual piece of equipment or a defense article. It could also be more conceptual or it could still be in the discovery phase, where there’s some science involved, but you need to have some back and forth with participants in this decision making process. You need to give them the space to explore it.If you believe you have customer interest, now you want to give the audience a chance to explore the capability. Click To Tweet
Stage 4 – When you’ve allowed the exploration to occur freely, you have set the conditions so that the audience should want to pursue it. They need to make a decision that, “Yeah, we want to look more closely at this.” This will have a lot to do with how you’ve messaged it, how you’ve presented yourself, and how you have sought audiences. Are you in front of the right people? As your audiences are deciding to make the decision to pursue, they’re beginning the process of the next stage.
Stage 5 – The pursuit stage tends to bleed into an evaluation stage. Your buyer likely has an informal method of evaluation, that is based on their experiences. They draw from their own experiences, before you get to a more formal grading sort of evaluation of a capability that you’re bringing forward. But recognize that there’s an actual stage of evaluation that begins informally, and then moves into a more formal process.
Stage 6 – The more formal process of evaluation is actually a method of validation. Is what you have presented demonstrable and able to be proven true? Can your audience validate the facts that you have put on the table? This is a critical stage and also relies on your use of time-tested methods to communicate with credibility along the way.
Stage 7– Finally, after you’ve moved through these six steps, you then are at a point where the government customer or somebody in the decision chain may be able to offer support—an influencer, an enabler, or an actual decider. But they’re going to do their due diligence. Note that support does not necessarily equate to a sale. It is essential that you recognize this key difference. However, working the steps to support will underpin your future sale.
There you have it. Seven stages of support: initial awareness, garnering interest, allowing the audience to explore, letting them pursue the knowledge in their own way, letting them evaluate what’s on the table, and letting them validate what’s on the table. Only then can you get the support. While needs, requirements, and funding are always in play, don’t forget these seven steps that are key ingredients to generating that ultimate support throughout your customer constellation.
On September 15th, I released my second book, Make Your Move – Charting Your Post-Military Career. This book shares the story of my career to date, and is written to support military professionals who are facing a career transition. All proceeds from the book will go to the Freedom Fighter Outdoors, a charitable organization supporting injured veterans. You can read more and order your copy of Make Your Move – Charting Your Post-Military Career here.