Find the Most Promising Customers

Target sub-agencies (Major Commands at DOD)

  1. Choose one or two sub-agencies: As a new business you are probably resource constrained, and building customer relationships takes significant effort, so we recommend choosing a couple sub-agencies and focussing on them
  2. Why sub-agencies: Sub-agencies (or in DOD Major Commands) are a good target because:
    1. They tend to be big enough to generate significant and sustainable revenue for a small business
    2. You can build a critical mass of relationships relatively quickly
    3. They are small enough that you can become an important vendor relatively quickly
    4. People tend to spend their careers within sub-agencies, so even if your connections get promoted or move they will still be in that sub-agency and in a position to help you
    5. Sub-agencies tend to have well defined missions making them relatively easy to research
  3. So do you only pursue work from those sub-agencies: No, as a small business you should pursue promising RFI/RFP from any customer. But:
    1. Proactively engage your primary sub-agencies: We recommend:
      1. Proactively learning about your target sub-agencies’ missions, organization, history, budget, etc
      2. Building relationships there
      3. Prioritizing these RFIs and RFPs
    2. Reactively engage with all the other sub-agencies: If you see a promising RFI or RFP from anywhere else, and you have the band width, pursue it. And if you have time you can research other sub-agencies, but your time will be limited, and you are better off going deep in one sub-agency than having shallow knowledge about many sub-agencies
  4. If you start building momentum outside your primary customers: The whole reason we want to select a primary sub-agency is to build a critical mass of relationships that will help you win work. If you start getting traction at another sub-agency you can always pivot

Selecting sub-agencies

  1. Follow the money: Prioritize sub-agencies that are spending:
    1. The most money on your product or service
    2. Spending through new vendor friendly mechanisms
    3. For example: Don’t choose the sub-agency that is spending a ton of money, but only spending through IDIQs since accessing those contracts is very difficult as a new vendor
  2. Your existing relationships: Prioritize sub-agencies where you have existing relationships. Especially if those relationships are with:
    1. Sub-agency leaders
    2. Program officers
    3. Contracting officers

Finding the best sub-agencies

  • Filter the data: This exercise is very similar to the market sizing exercise, except that the data is broken down by sub-agency. So select a saved search or filter the data as before:
    • Your keywords
    • Codes
    • Location
  • Assess the data: Look at total spending, and new-vendor friendly spending by sub-agency

Where are your relationships

  • Relationship data: The relationship data is broken out by:
    • Total number of connections: The number of people you know (at least according to your LinkedIn data) at each agency and sub-agency
    • People that can help you: The number of people you know that are in a position to help you win contracts.

Choosing the best sub-agencies

  1. Best case: Choose sub-agencies that
    1. Have good total, and new-vendor accessible, spending
    2. And where you know the most people who can help you win contracts
  2. Second best: If there are no “Best case” options, I recommend selecting sub-agencies that have the better spending because you can build relationships but it is much harder to get the government to change their spending

Track the people you need to engage

  • As you identify connections that you want to engage:
    • Clicking “Add to pipeline”
    • FedScout will create a profile for them in your pipeline along with recommended ways to build your relationship with them

Building relationships

  1. It’s hard: Building relationships with govies is challenging, especially when you don’t have any contracts.
  2. We have a class on that: For now focus on identifying the right sub-agencies and people and we have entire courses on building relationships with government officials.

Video Transcript(s):

In the last section you got a high level overview of the market for your Initial Primary Offering but now it’s time to explore the customers within your market and find the best ones for you. 

Now a couple thoughts on customer selection:

  • First, we recommend targeting sub-agencies, or within DoD targeting major commands. We have a class below on the structure of the federal government that goes into detail about why we think sub-agencies and major commands are the right targets but basically it’s because they’re big enough to buy a lot of your stuff, but small enough that even a new company can do high impact customer research and relationship building
  • Second, just like with your Initial Primary Offering just because you prioritize a few sub-agencies doesn’t mean that you're only going to pursue work there, it just means that you’ll focus your attention there. 

And identifying promising customers is a lot like evaluating a market, you're going to put in your keywords, codes, and any geographic restrictions, and FedScout will show you the spending data, but this time broken down by sub-agency and major command

And assuming you’ve uploaded your linkedin contacts next to each sub-agency you’ll see an analysis of how many people you know at each sub-agency, and how many of those people are in a position to help you win contracts.

FedScout will organize the sub-agencies list based on how promising we think they are and we recommend selecting two or three where there:

  • Is strong total spending 
  • Strong spending through new vendor friendly mechanisms
  • The contracts generally look promising
  • And where you have the best connections

Once you’ve identified the most promising sub-agencies, select them and select any of your connections that you want added to your Customer Relationship Manager and next we’ll do a similar exercise but to find partners.