Many of you know that we held our annual Fall Forum in November, hosting a lineup of influential leaders from a variety of government agencies. During one particular panel, we asked our guests what traits they look for in an ideal technology partner. They were eager to respond, and gave us some excellent insights. If you want to be everything that government agencies are looking for in a partner, here are three key traits that will set you apart but are especially critical during challenging financial times like the State of Arizona is currently facing.
This one might sound obvious, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. As a business, you have the goal to sell your technology and make as much money as possible. That’s completely justified as a for-profit business, and should be your aim. At the same time, you can’t go into meetings with government officials looking through the lens of your objectives alone.
Shifting your mindset can make a great deal of difference. View your conversations as opportunities to lay the groundwork for a solid partnership. Consider the official’s point of view, framed by their objections, challenges and needs. Think about what will truly serve them, rather than what will simply close the deal.
If you do get the sale, you’ll start your collaborative work together on much better footing. If you don’t? You’ll still have created a positive rapport with that official, which never hurts and could even be mutually beneficial down the road.
When you’re sitting down with officials, prepare to listen more than you talk. One of our panelists expressed their most sincere appreciation for vendors who take the time to really listen to an agency’s needs before claiming they have the solution. If you do this, you and your products might very well turn out to be the solution. Or, you might learn that this agency doesn’t have a need for what you’re selling. Either way, it’s much better to discover early on if you’re truly a fit for one another before investing more time into meetings, calls and presentations.
Also, when you listen more than you speak, you’ll have a greater chance to wow the government leader in front of you later. For example, maybe they mention a pain point that you hadn’t really considered. You can take that away with you, do some research and circle back later with thorough, thoughtful remarks.
Just as it pays to be patient with the government sales cycle, it also pays to have patience in waiting for the right time to speak. Being prepared is always going to net you better returns than speaking just for the sake of filling silence or trying to sell something.
This is one trait that no client ever wants to hear, but we can’t impress the importance of patience enough. All of our attendees at our Fall Forum heard this come straight from our esteemed panel of government leaders, and for good reason. The fact is that the government operates on a very different timeline than the private sector. There are many reasons for this, but it remains an unchangeable truth.
The sooner that partners embrace the need to be patient and abide by the government’s timing, the faster you’ll be acting like a good partner. Be empathetic. Few things irritate officials more and can sideline relationship building than “friendly” nudging and persistent follow-up, especially when they’ve already made their timing expectations clear. If you want to work with the government, patience is a must.
Working with the government requires a strategic approach, and an understanding of what the other party is truly looking for in a tech partner. Like our panelists said, the vendors who win are the ones who put partnership first, listen more than they speak, and are patient. If you’d like to learn more about how to form the right relationships with the government, we would love to talk.