Businesses that sell to the public sector can learn a lot before they make a first call or set up a meeting with a prospect. Here are four things I think any company should know and understand before they delve into the state and local government or education markets. 

 

Understand what’s top of mind for your prospect 

Government and education institutions typically write and post strategic planning documents that clearly spell out their priorities, investment plans and challenges. Spend the time to locate and read these documents and understand where you could potentially fit in and be of assistance based on those strategies and needs. 

 

Understand who can influence the purchasing process 

Once you have an understanding of your prospect’s needs, figure out who to engage. Know your contacts and where they sit within the organization. Understanding this will help you identify interrelationships and responsibilities. Most organizations will publish an organizational chart that will break this down for you. And remember, it’s not always the CIO or tech leader you’ll need to sway. That person often has an entire group of influencers behind him or her that weigh in on strategic decisions as well. 

 

Understand the rules of the game 

The public sector has a very defined, often complicated procurement process you will need to know and understand in order to be successful. Your prospect’s procurement process will dictate how they procure your goods or services and it may even require you to register as a vendor. Do your homework so you know what’s required of you up front. 

 

Get the meeting and initiate a meaningful conversation 

Arrive for any meetings fully prepared so you can engage in a conversation that demonstrates that you’ve done your homework. Make sure you can prove how your solutions can impact your prospect’s organization and address their needs. Focus your discussion on solutions, not products. 

 

Want more tips on how to tap the $111 billion state, local and education IT markets? 

Navigator is a one-stop tool to help you make sense of the government and education technology markets. Navigator is unmatched in depth and coverage of technology spending, RFPs, developing opportunities, jurisdictional profiles and buyers in states, cities, counties, K-12 and higher education. A membership to Navigator provides actionable market intelligence that can be tailored to a specific sales territory and pushed directly to your sales people -- saving your team hours of on-the-job searching. 

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