Entering the Public Sector Market
The public sector market might be something you're brand new to. Here's some key areas to help get you started on the world of procurement.
If you’re new to entering the public sector market, it can feel a bit overwhelming. Whether an SME, or a larger company follow a Market Development Strategy, or a brand new start-up – the way in which you engage and target the market holds similarities.
Yes, capacity may be an issue for some but understanding the fundamentals of targeting the public sector is important in not wasting time and making sure you’re maximising your efforts. So, in this article we explain some key focus areas when it comes to tackling the UK Government market and what suppliers should consider.
Jos Creese, Strategic AdviserAdvice Cloud
Any technology service supplier that wishes to work with the public sector needs to understand the sector before their launching in with proposals. Proper preparation is more than knowing your product and service, it’s about being able to align those with the challenges, needs and preferences of a prospective public sector client. It is this understanding that will lead to empathy and trust, which are just as important as the quality and price of the technology itself.
It’s not usually rocket science, but sometimes it just needs a little external help, such as procurement advice or constructive challenge on marketing messages. This can help to avoid the pitfalls of working with the public sector, whilst increasing the chances of a successful sale.
As Jos says in his quote above, planning and developing a strategy before hitting the Go button is important. A strong public sector strategy is important for your company (here’s some tips on getting one started), so it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Asking where your product or service sits in supporting the public sector is important. What problems will it help to solve? How will this help better public sector services?
It’s not just about saying you’re targeting the public sector market as a whole either. There are over 50,000 public sector organisations in the UK, so you’ll have to be more specific! We like to think of it all split into a few main areas:
- Central Government
- Local Government
- Health and Social Care
- Blue Light and Policing
So the first start is to know which of these you’re targeting, then go from there.
Get to know your buyer
As we said, it’s not enough just aiming to scattergun the whole public sector market. Fine tune your targets to specific organisations and departments, if you can. A lot of what comes with tackling the market is engaging and marketing to these people. And yes, you’ll want to market to people.
Who makes the decisions for these departments? Are they CIOs, managers, IT Leads?
Have a look at incumbents and who they have worked with on contracts previously. The spend data is out there for a lot of frameworks such as G-Cloud or Digital Outcomes and Specialists. So take a look at who they’re buying from – which links in to some valuable competitor research too.
and also, look at where they buy their products and services…
Know how the public sector market buys
There are many ways in which suppliers from the private sector can do business with the public sector. We won’t go into all of them here – that’s a whole different article! – but we will explain why it’s important to know what methods your targets use and how these methods work.
Public sector procurement mainly happens through a system called Contracts Finder, if the contracts are high value though (above £122,976 for Central Gov, for example), then they will be published on Find a Tender. These platforms are for public sector buyers to post plans for future procurements (called PINs), open opportunities or awarded contracts. So, they’re brilliant to see what your target markets are buying up, and also who wins the contracts.
It also provides new suppliers a way in to see what might be coming up in the future, and to start engaging with those public sector organisations before opportunities go to tender.
Alongside this, if they’re using certain frameworks or Dynamic Purchasing Systems – you’ll want to be putting these into your public sector strategies and making sure you’re on the relevant ones so that you’re buyable when the chance comes. These are normally technology specific, or solution specific. So do your research!
These are just some of the considerations when you’re a new supplier to the public sector market. Routes to market, and getting on to them, are tricky at first glance and take some looking into. However, frameworks and Dynamic Purchasing Systems are great enablers for business – buyers like to use them because they are quick and compliant.
To summarise, as Jos said previously, the main focus should not be first on your product or service, but on how it aligns with what the public sector should be trying to fix or solve. From there, you can start to build your strategy for the public sector market!