What IS Normal, Anyway?

It’s hard to define what is normal anymore. For most of recent American history, we’ve taken for granted that aside from a few ups and downs here and there, we can rely on steady, predictable growth. We live in a society that is well-organized and in many ways the envy of the world. We’re accustomed to outside turbulence only being a temporary blip that doesn’t change things substantially. As it turns out, those assumptions aren’t always as rock-solid as we thought.

With the advent of COVID-19, the entire country—actually, the entire world—has been challenged. The distinctions between bull and bear markets have given way to “kangaroo” markets that bounce up and down weekly. Uncertainty has encroached on what may have once been certain in our minds.

Do you know what hasn’t changed this year? Your federal government customer continues to spend on discretionary goods and services.

Have you and your business stayed aligned with your government customer’s routines during this very different year?

In case you didn’t know, the US Department of Treasury posts monthly updates of federal receipts and expenditures. The figure above reflects those broad categories and is derived from information in “Table 9” from The Office of Management and Budget (OMB). As this chart shows clearly, the government’s plan to allocate and spend money to fill needs will continue forward no matter what else is happening—and your business can have a part of it if you choose to remain focused.

At the department level, government customers are required to post-sales opportunities and contracts awarded in public places. By way of example, the Department of Defense posts individual contract awards valued above $7 million every day. That number averages $18 billion in contract awards every week during 2020.

Without Congressional relief, federal agencies must obligate appropriated funds within the fiscal year. At this point in the fiscal year, Congress has not offered relief from those appropriations rules. What this means is that your government customer is continuing to spend within their legal authorities.

We are living in a teachable moment for your teams approaching the government customer. Have you and your business been following the ongoing daily realities of government spending, or have you pulled back due to COVID-related realities? Are you waiting for a return to “normal” before you act for your company’s future? If so, you’ll likely learn that the federal customer didn’t pull back—they adapted and continued to execute.

This year, it’s a pandemic. In prior years, it may have been a regional hurricane or even a more local fire. Things happen. Life happens. There is no new normal coming.

Adapt. Now.

Your federal customer is making urgent decisions today about how to obligate funds through the remainder of the year. Are you part of that conversation?

Need help engaging with the federal government for policy or access to funding for your product? If you need help with this schedule a call with Gene.

To get a copy of Gene Moran’s book Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring® Circus of Federal Sales or for more information on federal sales, visit Capitol Integration.

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