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Federal Customer Constellation: Your Engagement Plan

Is your federal customer constellation engagement plan flawed?

We were taught of the perils of running with scissors during childhood. There were other similar warnings of activities with severe consequences such as waiting 30 minutes to swim after eating, and “you’ll poke an eye out,” for example. We often learned life lessons through such exhortations to not do something.

For the sake of this story, let’s agree that running with scissors was actually a pretty good safety rule to adopt through childhood (and beyond).

Why then, do so many business executives do the equivalent of running with scissors with their business?

Not to overplay the metaphor, but when you communicate poorly with your federal customer constellation, you are inflicting similar harm, albeit invisible harm in the moment.

Federal Customer Constellation: Poor Communication

Using a flawed engagement plan surrenders your credibility early and sometimes irrevocably. Click To Tweet

Business prospect: “I need you to get me in to see Secretary Smith.”

Me: “Why do you think she would be the first meeting?”

Business prospect: “I know Secretary Smith. We are fellow alumni from Georgetown.”

Me: “Ok, I appreciate that. Do you feel you have a personal relationship? Does Secretary Smith know the details of your business? Have you spoken to anyone else in the department about your product offering?”

Business prospect: “She has told me, ‘If I ever need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out.’”

Me: “Ok, would you like to know her first question of you if we were to get such a meeting?”

Business prospect: “What’s that?”

Me: “Well, after the few minutes of chit chat about your school or whenever you last met, she’ll want to know that your product aligns with a need, requirement, and funding. Secretary Smith will want to know who else (below her) has been involved in this to date. Further, she’ll reasonably expect that you’ve done the legwork to align your offering to a competitive opportunity.”

Business prospect: “Let’s step back a minute. Can you prepare me for that meeting? And how long will that take?”

This kind of back-and-forth happens frequently enough that I’m writing about it to share it with you. Just because you (think) you know somebody, and you assume they also know you, doesn’t mean that’s the best place to bring your good idea forward.

Being Deliberate About Your Communications Planning and Methodology


It’s ok, even suggested, that you do take advantage of relationships you might have with government officials. However, it has to be done within an accepted construct and methodology. Too many companies are not deliberate enough about their communications planning and methodology. They rush in to the most visible or known entry point. The result is the equivalent of the accident while running with scissors.

Using a flawed engagement plan surrenders your credibility early and sometimes irrevocably.

I developed Capitol CurrencySM specifically to help companies searching for a methodology and support, but who may be in the early stages of generating revenue. Capitol CurrencySM can give you a jumpstart to understanding the fuller picture of the federal environment into which you are selling.

Don’t run with scissors—you might just poke an eye out.

Learn more about Capitol CurrencySM here.

The Make Your Move podcast is a multi-season series devoted to the lessons learned of military members in their post-active duty lives. I hope you enjoy the stories of the men and women brave enough to share their transition stories so publicly. Listen to the latest episode here.

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