Know How to Take Advantage of State and Local Fiscal Year-End as a Vendor
Many state and local governments are approaching the end of their fiscal year (June 30th). Between now and then government contractors can expect an acceleration in purchasing as agencies rush to spend “use it or lose it” dollars. According to Onvia, 46 state agencies fiscal year end dates fall at the end of June, while 86% of school districts align with the school year in June.
Below are some tips on how information technology (IT) vendors can take advantage of state and local year-end and maximize sales.
Identify Agency Year-End Schedules
While the general perception is that state and local agencies go into a frenzy of accelerated spending towards year-end, this isn’t always the case. To ensure you’re focusing your efforts on the right agency, research agency fiscal year-end schedules and buying patterns. Some agencies allocate and spend their cash early in the fiscal year, others spread their spending throughout the year, while the remainder reserve their purchasing decisions until year-end.
Review Budget, IT Plans and Agendas
In addition to searching for open bids, get an early insight into leads by examining budget and spending plans for last minute projects and near-term opportunities published on agency websites. You should also familiarize yourself with the agenda of the elected official who heads the agency or department – does your solution provide a fix to their problems? There may also be a strategic IT plan that you can review to understand priorities and if there’s a fit for your company’s offering.
Update your Information
If it’s been a while you’ve had direct dealings with a target agency, take time to review your company information on vendor registration sites and ensure its correct and up-to-date.
Ramp Up Lead Re-Engagement
Plan on reaching out to initiators. Initiators are the people who are looking to technology to solve a problem, such as agency managers, department heads, police chiefs, and IT buyers. They are responsible for evaluating products and recommending vendors and solutions that best meet the project need. Re-engage with your contacts to understand their needs and plans for year-end purchases.
Help Initiators Make a Business Case for your Product
At the federal level, program managers prepare a business case to justify their buying decisions. This isn’t always the case in state and local government. It’s often down to the vendor to help buyers make a business case justification since managers lean on technology experts to help them understand how they can be more efficient, productive, etc.
There are many ways to do this, but webinars and whitepapers are important tools for educating the buyer about your solutions and the measurable benefits they bring (improving citizen services, enhanced productivity, etc.). State and local officials also like to see how you’ve helped other jurisdictions, so case studies and proof of performance are important to highlight at this time. If you don’t have these resources, DLT Solutions can help develop marketing materials and lead generation programs that are essential for a successful year-end strategy.
Reach Out with the Right Message
Now is the time to remind both initiators and procurement officials of your offerings, contracts, and any year-end initiatives or promotions. However, to be successful it’s essential that you deliver the right message to the right target. This means having one strategy for initiators (see the example above about helping this group make a business case for your solution) and one for procurement.
When targeting procurement officials, play to their role in the buying cycle and show that you understand their year-end challenges.
Procurement only gets involved when a solution is selected and approved by the agency or department manager. They are less concerned with evaluating your offerings as they are in knowing what contract vehicles you have and whether you meet the buying criteria – thus they need a different approach than initiators. In addition, this is a busy time for them, they are looking to vendors to help them be as efficient as possible.
This is your opportunity to stress how you’re committed to making the year-end buying experience as easy and seamless as possible. If you work with a government value added reseller, like DLT Solutions, emphasize the benefits the partnership brings to the agency – rapid quote turnaround, range of contract vehicles, extended hours, online chat, etc.
Finally, consider creating a standalone microsite or landing page on your website that showcases your year-end resources. Include a lead capture form and be sure to add a brief capability statement (DUNS number, contracts, certifications, etc.) that is tailored to the mission of the targeted agency.
Look for Teaming Opportunities
Don’t overlook opportunities to be a subcontractor or team with other vendors. Review award histories to identify prime contractors and existing vendors who may be looking to team with other contractors to offer a more complete solution. Teaming also gives you the chance to bid on opportunities that your business might not otherwise have the scale to fulfill.
Secure Future Budget
Successful state and local government selling is a year-round effort. Just as important as the period right before year-end, is the period after. As budgets are finalized and agencies start to craft RFPs, use your relationships to engage and consult with initiators on industry best practices. Offering a helping hand at the beginning of the new fiscal year can position you well once RFPs are published and contracts awarded.