Welcome! As we mentioned in our introductory post, What is Go-To-Market?, here is part 2 in our series discussing the importance of Go-To-Market (GTM) Strategy—a significant tool for successful business development (BD) and sales efforts.
Two types of research
“The best vision is insight.” –Malcolm Forbes
No matter where you are in the spectrum of selling into the Federal Government (or length of time working with your Federal Government customers), your key to success is understanding several points—your company’s position, your customer’s needs, the state of the market from competitors to potential partners, economic influences, and your ability to provide the product or service solution needed—and that understanding can only be achieved through continued research!
As we develop your Go-To-Market Strategy, we must conduct research to determine and plan the right path. Research provides you with the information to react and respond to the needs you can address and the solutions you can provide. And, just as external research is important to identifying leads and prospects in your target market, conducting internal research provides focus and attention to areas of concern to address or areas of success to leverage that will enhance your sales and BD efforts.
Your internal research is about your company—who you are, what you do, and how you do it. This involves absolutely every aspect of your company, including its processes, resources, and product/service offerings. The information you collect during this process will help determine the how, why, who, and what—from setting your pricing strategy, assigning personnel, developing messaging, and enhancing communications tools, to preparing proposal content, ensuring resource growth, building key relationships or partnerships, and creating a specific sales action plan. The internal research step is key to your being prepared to act on and move forward with the data results from your external research.
Now that you have a clear picture of your company, it’s time to conduct the external research. To reach and engage new customers, it is absolutely vital to conduct external research. With external research, your company is determining where you are, where you want/need to be, and how to get there. This includes uncovering how you’re positioned in the market, where your potential targets live, what your competitors look like and where they are performing, who your key customer contacts/decision makers are, what trends are developing, what innovations are impacting the industry, and what opportunities are available to you to pursue.
Additionally, external research includes collecting data from existing customers. Expanding within your current customer relationship requires you to arm your project management and operations teams with as much data as possible for them to instill in your customer the confidence that they/you know how to help the customer achieve the desired outcome.
We conduct research with existing customers in two ways—insider and outsider—and use various methods from simple conversations among co-workers/peers to attending other departmental meetings to in-depth strategic plan reviews to performing direct surveys. Insider research goals include understanding pain points, challenges, and reservations; finding the areas where customer needs can be addressed with your solutions; and/or identifying and vetting potential partners with necessary capabilities.
Outsider research within existing customer relationships should include impacts from competitor information, market assessments, and financial/budget projections, as well as new/emerging technologies or initiatives—data that could affect your position and your customer’s direction. Use source portals such as Hoovers, trade publications, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, etc. as well as industry tools such as FBO, GovWin, Bloomberg, FPDS, GSA, etc.
Analyze your findings and prepare a detailed plan to work from and communicate with your team and your customer. Be willing and able to take baby steps, measure results, and adjust when/where needed. Your customer will appreciate your willingness to help them achieve their goals and objectives, as well as your understanding of their challenges and ability to offer solutions.
Again, no matter where you are in the spectrum of selling to the Federal Government, research is king and the foundation for success!
“Research is creating new knowledge.” –Neil Armstrong
Thank you! And visit us for part 3 of our Show me the money series—Building Your GTM Strategy—coming soon.
Karen C. Gauthier—As Lead Consultant for Lohfeld Consulting Group’s Go-to-Market Strategy and Execution Practice, Karen has +20 years’ experience and expertise in marketing and business development strategy and execution directly to U.S. Federal Government (e.g., FEMA, HHS, USPS, VA), directly to prime federal contractors (e.g., BAE Systems, Boeing, CGI, Northrop Grumman, Serco), and via General Services Administration (GSA) Schedules (e.g., PSS, IT 70, 65IIA, 84, etc.) for companies of all sizes. She understands how to break down the details and determine the needs and requirements of organizations for growth. Contact Karen at KGauthier@LohfeldConsulting.com.