Five questions suppliers should be asking all the time
If you are looking to sell to the public sector make sure you ask yourselves these five questions!
When it comes to entering a new market, it can be argued that none is trickier to conquer than the public sector. Government has more stakeholders, processes and is subject to much more scrutiny than any other. This is because it acts to serve the people that provide the revenue and demand. In paying your taxes you contribute to government funds and in being a citizen you require access to its services, and as we move to an increasingly digital age, you require them instantaneously.
So as an organisation thinking of taking on the public sector (or indeed re-evaluating your public sector strategy), have an action plan in place! Begin with asking yourself these 5 questions…
Are you market ready?
This one may seem the most obvious, but after all there are no stupid questions…Have you as a company decided that you are ready to take on the public sector? Have you delegated appropriate resources to this new vertical? Have you checked to see if your competition is already there? Do you know your audience?
If you can’t answer these questions, then it’s back to the drawing board for you!
The public sector is a big beast and without proper preparation its unlikely that you will see a return on investment. Increasingly for government departments, the emphasis is being placed on the user and what problem you are solving for them. If you don’t know the buyers problems then it’s pretty unlikely they will buy from you, which brings us on to the next point….
Do you understand your target markets?
As mentioned, the government rhetoric is focused on a problem/solution approach, they want to work with organisations that are committed to an agile and user-centric methodology. Organisations that share their values and commitment to improving public services. So, here’s how you can begin to get your head around the problems gov is facing:
- Do your homework! Investigate what areas your chosen department is working on, you can do this by combing the internet for any recent tenders issued by that department, such as any calls for competition or alpha opportunities. This will allow you to gauge future and first stage projects. Once you’ve done this you can compare this to your own solution and find out where it fits in.
- Look for the latest articles mentioning the targeted departments digital projects or any interview with the CIO or CTO talking about their future plans and aspirations.
- Read through any recent case studies and success stories, learn what they liked about that supplier and emulate it- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all….
- Talk to them! Ask them what they are working on and how it fits into the bigger picture of their digital transformation. Do this without an agenda and on a purely fact-finding mission, you can do this at government events, phoning them up, or even via social media.
Which frameworks are the best fit and do you understand them?
Now that you know that you are ready to enter this new market and understand your target markets, the question is, how do they buy your services?
One of the best, fastest and cost-effective ways to buy services is via a framework. Frameworks are an OJEU compliant route to market for suppliers, and some, like G-Cloud, even take away the tedious task of writing bids. But it is important that you do your research and find the right framework for you. So where to start?
Your first point of reference should be the Digital Marketplace – where you can find two of the most successful procurement vehicles for the government: G-Cloud and DOS. Go onto the Digital Marketplace and see if your competitors are on there. If they are, then so should you! One of the great things about G-Cloud and DOS in particular is the transparency of the framework, you can even look at the spend data and see how often your target department/sector uses the frameworks, and what for.
If you are looking at trying out one of the more traditional frameworks, this will involve a bit more digging, you can start on TED (Tenders Electronic Daily) and take look at the supplier award notices and check out the competition that way. And make sure to check out our procurement pipeline, here you can find out when tech frameworks open and close and figure out what’s the best fit for your solution.
Getting onto these frameworks is just half the battle, understanding them is equally as important. Being able to effectively communicate how the framework works to buyers should be worked into your sales strategy and marketing messaging. It’s important that you take the time to dig into any available info on your framework. CCS often run various supplier engagement events at TechUK as well as supplier and buyer webinars, which will help you get to grips with your chosen route to market. And, if your target framework is G-Cloud and you don’t feel like digging around, check out our G-Cloud Supplier Essentials online course. It will tell you all you need to know about the framework!
Do you have a public sector marketing and sales strategy?
If the answer to this is no, then why not? Too often suppliers think they can sell to the public sector because they have proven success selling to the private sector. In reality, it’s a completely different kettle of fish. Why spend all the time learning and researching your target market if you don’t tailor a strategy just for them? Here’s a few tips to get you going:
- Make sure your marketing messaging is cohesive – create a separate landing page on your website for your government offering, keep this in-line with the research you’ve done on the department.
- Don’t be too pushy, the pace of the public sector is often slow and steady. There are many people involved in a single decision and they need time to review and decide how to best progress.
- When pitching, send the team that will deliver the work. This will be much more effective in emphasising the right ‘cultural fit’ for that department.
- Attend events! Get involved in various government tech events. Cultivate discussions with decision makers on issues they are facing and start building a good relationship with them.
Do you have the right support?
Having the right support when taking on a new market is vital, whether that is upskilling internal expertise through training or selecting the right external consultants and mentors.
Think about the above questions and see where your plan is falling short. Perhaps you know you want to sell to the health sector but don’t know where best to engage with decision makers? Maybe you are failing to package your product appropriately for the public sector, or you just simply don’t understand which framework is the best fit. Look at partnering and working with people that can share their expertise and experience and start winning public sector business!
We work with a lot of SMEs and we understand that not everyone will have the time, money, or resources to dedicate solely to public sector business, so it’s important that you work smart and not hard!
But if you still don’t know whether you are right for the public sector, who to target, or what problem you are solving, then get in touch and we can point you in right direction!