Does party matter in federal sales?
Yes, but only in the macro sense. If you are a company with annual federal revenues below $1 billion, the party in power makes no difference. At least it shouldn’t, and I’ll explain why. There is always opportunity with federal customers. The very largest primes, those with annual revenues in the double-digit billions, can see significant disruption to their topline revenue when a major program gets axed. Generally speaking, the threat of a sweeping, large programmatic cut hurts the big companies more than smaller companies.
Of course, there are exceptions, especially for those small companies that are not sufficiently diversified. Companies tied to a single program or budget line are always at risk no matter the party in power. Remaining dependent on one program budget line is a high-wire act in which you don’t need to participate. Small companies whose funding derives from multiple budget lines can thrive in any environment. Don’t believe me? Look around. Not sure which funding line(s) support you? Red flag.Don’t let party dynamics interfere with your good government solution. Needs, requirements, and funding collectively form good government solutions. Click To Tweet
During a recent speaking engagement, I was asked if I tailor my Congressional messages based on the party of the Member or staff I am briefing. I thought it was an insightful question, albeit somewhat driven by the misperception that membership in a political party requires an extreme view. Simply stated, the answer is no.
When I brief Congressional staff and Members, I rely on the same strength of message in each case. When I make a request on behalf of a client, the substance of the request must be based in fact, logic, and good governance. When relying on those attributes to convey a strong message, there is no additional value in skewing the story to support a political ideology. Said differently, the request must stand on its own as a good government proposal.
That said, some Members and offices are more well-versed in particular issues, and some publicly purport office policies indicative of support or non-support of certain issues. There can be value in briefing an office on a tricky issue, even when the likelihood of moving them to your position is low. Keeping lines of communication open to discuss the issue at a later date, or to discuss evolving issues, is always valuable.
I’ve written and spoken often about the 8-minute message, use of the white paper, and the three C’s of communicating influence. None of those tips and tricks take party affiliation into consideration. No matter your company size, the overarching key to success in federal sales is to participate in the entire process. Don’t let party dynamics interfere with your good government solution. Needs, requirements, and funding collectively form good government solutions.
If you are interested in joining a group of professionals who share your goal of success in the federal space in The Big Top, reach out to me by email with the subject line: “The Big Top.” An invitation-only, online forum, The Big Top is where topical federal issues, useful federal engagement tips, and proven better practices can help fuel your understanding and success working toward improved federal sales.