By Allan Rubin, Guest Contributor
Vice President of Marketing, immixGroup
What a difference a year makes. The end of the government’s fiscal year in September 2013 was characterized by sequestration, continuing resolutions (CRs), and a government shutdown threat that became a crippling reality. Now that September 2014 is behind us, many contractors are breathing a sigh of relief after a strong selling season.
Hopefully you’ve had a chance to relax and recharge — and chances are your financial statements are a bit healthier. Most of the solution providers and manufacturers immixGroup has heard from reported that sales were up compared with last year’s numbers.
In an article on October 1, Washington Technology’s Nick Wakeman shared some DoD contract award numbers that demonstrate how the September rush has changed over the last few years. According to Wakeman: “The end of fiscal year pressure has always been great, but it has grown, and government buyers feel the need to buy because they just don’t know what will happen to their budgets.”
He adds: “The current continuing resolution puts off any decisions on budgets until December and the lame-duck session of Congress. It is doubtful that we’ll see a shutdown at Christmas, but the game of chicken could well return.”
And therein lies the question: what happens next? Will a busy September (actually, a couple of busy months for many of us) lead to continued strength in the year ahead? Or should we expect an immediate drop-off now that the September rush has passed?
In a blog post on Government Sales Insider this summer, immixGroup Senior Market Intelligence Analyst Chris Wiedemann made the case for planning ahead for the post-September “realities.” Those include:
- Limited chances of a full budget or a “minibus” funding bill any time soon
- A short-term CR (the one that passed runs through December 11), with another one likely to follow
- A distracted Congress focused on midterm elections, ISIS, and other pressing international issues
- The possibility of a change in control in the Senate
- The likelihood that spending will continue at FY14 funding levels for some time
So now we must evaluate our pipelines for the rest of the year. Our focus should shift back to identifying new business opportunities and putting in place the tools (marketing activities, market data, contracts, relationships, etc.) we need to close deals in the months ahead.
To continue the momentum you gained in September, you’ll need to reprise the strategies you’ve used during previous CRs and look for ways to map new sales and marketing messages to funded programs from prior years. There’s an upcoming event that can help you get started.
At immixGroup’s Government IT Sales Summit (November 20, 2014 in McLean, Virginia), market intelligence analysts, current and former government employees and industry experts will share information about existing and new sales opportunities. The event will feature immixGroup’s annual IT Budget Briefings for DoD and civilian agencies, as well as insights into how solution providers and vendors should adjust their strategies to better serve their government customers and win more business in cybersecurity, cloud, big data, data center optimization, and other critical areas.
Attendees will also have the chance to network with potential partners, discover new technology products, understand the contract landscape, explore state and local markets, improve marketing and sales tactics and gather data that will inform business plans for the coming year.
Register at GovITSalesSummit.com and join the conversation about how contractors can survive — and thrive — in the flat market that lies ahead.
Allan Rubin is Vice President of Marketing for immixGroup, Inc., which helps technology companies do business with the government. He is a regular contributor to immixGroup’s blog, Government Sales Insider.