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The Federal Sales Playing Field

The federal sales playing field: how much of it do you use?

The overwhelming majority of defense companies leave 1/3 of the sales playing field completely unattended. They do this by not paying close attention to Congress, where establishing relationships with people who can help them achieve the best good government ends can make a difference.

Hundreds of defense companies use lobbyists to help communicate needs and achieve outcomes—hundreds of thousands of defense companies do not. Share on X

Football, Golf, and Hockey

Most Americans recognize that a football field is 100-yards long with a goal line at each end. Using a creative mix of passing and running plays, the offense moves the ball from one end of the field to the opposite goal line to score. Great quarterbacks and coaches know how to spread and stretch the plays to force a defense to cover a lot of real estate. Some teams thrive on a highly effective ground game—the “three yards and a cloud of dust” as Ohio States’ Woody Hayes observed when it came to the great Vince Lombardi’s style of play. Either method uses the entire field.

In golf, players move through 18-holes using as few strokes as possible. The mental game of golf requires a player to play within themselves and maintain a level of focus for each shot. Between shots, some players can allow themselves to relax. One method of managing a round is to break the 18-holes into three rounds of six holes. A fast start on the first six can be completely surrendered on the middle six. It’s not possible to make up a severely poor start by playing well only for the final six holes. But focusing on smaller segments allows one to manage the required concentration of the game.

In hockey, the term “icing” refers to a player shooting the puck across the red centerline and across the red goal line, but without the puck entering the net. Players must use the ice between the red lines of the center and the goal line. The rule forces contact among players and encourages passing the puck. Expert players know how to move toward the puck’s future position even with intense high-speed passes of the puck.

Three different games—each with specific rules. Now, imagine trying to win at each game if the following conditions were introduced:

  • In football, could you score effectively if you were not allowed to use the middle third of the field? You might occasionally complete a long pass and skip over that middle third, but that requires luck and extraordinary skill.
  • In golf, you must play all 18-holes and not skip the middle six holes or any hole. You can’t just play your favorite twelve holes or the ones that best highlight your specific skill. You are forced to play the entire course.
  • In hockey, if you couldn’t use the 50 feet of ice at the center of the rink between the two blue lines? In order to keep the puck on the ice, you must use the entire rink. It would not be possible to “fly” the puck 50 feet over the middle of the rink each time.

Federal Sales Playing Field: Using Only 2/3’s of the Playing Surface?

Why do defense companies effectively play the game of federal sales using only 2/3’s of the playing surface?

If the federal dollars that fund your contract are entirely approved by Congress before being placed on contract, doesn’t it make sense that you want to make sure Congress understands what you do, what your product is, or why your company matters? The answer should be a resounding yes.

The time funding and policy legislation spend under review in Congress is roughly 1/3 of the timeline of the entire budget process. Share on X

The overarching reason companies don’t participate on the entire federal playing field, to include Congress, is because too many defense executives simply don’t know how. That’s a lousy reason.

Unfortunately, “advisory boards” and actual boards of directors are typically no better informed on the idiocrasies of Congressional engagement and its value. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Capitol Currency® is one tool that can give you and your sales team the quick-start guide to better understand how the pieces of the process really fit together. Learn more here.

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