It may not be intuitive, but by keeping your blinders on and only focusing on your company trying to get ahead, you could be compromising your chances of winning at all.
If you approach the government market with a conventional mindset, collaboration with other companies may not be the first sales strategy you think of. In fact, it may be the last consideration.
I’d like to share with you the approach Traversant Group has found great success using with its clients. It focuses on collaboration as the competitive advantage.
Vendors should not underestimate the importance of partner relationships. Collaboration requires vendors to put aside self-interest and share information to advance a common goal. You often see this approach in public-private partnerships and bond initiatives. For instance, Proposition 123 received backing from a diverse group of business leaders to amend the Arizona Constitution to allow the state to tap into its land trust to give $3.5 billion to Arizona’s public schools. Businesses came together and supported a cause important to the community.
The same can be true for technology pursuits. Stepping back, why does government need technology? It is to fulfill the agencies’ missions. Usually these missions are to improve public heath, end poverty, improve student outcomes, protect the environment and more. These problems are oftentimes viewed as insurmountable. And, the government continues to issue RFP after RFP for technology tools that can perhaps work to solve these issues when cobbled together.
Collaboration between a team of vendors leads to end-to-end solutions. Suddenly, a team of industry leaders approaches government with a comprehensive approach that leverages everyone’s strengths. Government officials can see the big picture instead of slices that it has to fit together. This is especially useful in technology when there can be multiple components to solving an enterprise issue like welfare eligibility, licensing and permitting, collections, or substance abuse prevention.
How does collaboration help vendors? There is power in numbers. First, there is importance. A group of industry leaders is a lot more compelling for an official than one meeting here and one meeting there. Second, more relationships equals more access. One vendor may have regular communications with an agency from which another vendor can’t seem to get a call returned. Together, they can leverage one another’s contacts. Third, the ability to cite multiple use cases across a team of vendors increases qualifications. And finally, multiple vendors usually means multiple contract vehicles, thus improving the odds of having a readily available procurement option.
Setting aside competitive differences and instead focusing on strategic alliances, companies from a variety of industries have the ability to work together to solve these problems. Yes, the pie may have a few more slices, but the pie is also bigger.