Strategic Federal Account Planning and Portfolio Management | Lessons from the Field
November 20, 2019 By TechnoMile
At TechnoMile, we serve both large and small/mid-sized government contractors. Regardless of your company size or business, it’s important to have a strategy for federal strategic account planning that guides your presale and post-sale acquisition processes—and to clarify who you are selling to, the needs of your customers, and the value you bring to them.
As you plan for the coming year, make every dollar you invest contribute to your organization’s growth and profitability.
Here are 5 steps for account management and portfolio planning to help position you for long-term success.
Step 1: Research the Industry and Your Target Accounts
The first step in account planning and portfolio management is to do a deep-dive analysis so that you thoroughly understand the industry, your customers, and the competition. In terms of customers—what is the current state of their business, where do they want to go, and what do they need to do to bridge that gap? What are the industry trends impacting them and which are most pressing? Are there resource/supply chain issues, regulations, or competitive issues you can help them solve? In terms of the competition—who are the market leaders? Who is increasing its market share the fastest? Who just got into the market or the account? Who just got out…and why?
All of this may sound obvious, however, ask yourself—When is the last time we really analyzed our accounts? When is the last time we really, analytically, assessed what is occurring in our industry? You may be shocked by the number of companies that can’t answer these questions.
Take a close look at the agencies you are targeting. What are they looking for, what are they buying, and who are they buying from? Do they like what they are buying? What factors influence their buying decisions? How often do they keep the incumbent? Are there protests?
Much of this information is available in public databases and online websites like the Congressional Record, the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, Federal Agency’s Audit and Strategic Reports, and the Court of Federal Claims. Much of this information also sits in the 10-Ks of publicly traded companies. The TechnoMile GovCon Suite can help to accelerate this intelligence-seeking process as it automatically pulls and centralizes information from top federal sources such as FPDS, FBO, SAM, EDGAR, GovSearch, and ArchIntel, as well as state and local solicitation databases into the system.
Step 2: Take Stock of Your Portfolio
Once you understand your customers—their current states and where they want to go—it’s important to evaluate yourself. What are your main offerings? How have those offerings evolved over time? Are they being commoditized? Are you a niche player or market leader? Think about who you’re competing with—what is the unique value you bring? Can you meet customer needs in a way that the competition cannot?
This requires that you take stock of your portfolio and the value you can bring to your customers. Are there gaps in your portfolio that need to be addressed now or in the future? If so, what is required in terms of investments, time, and resources? What expectations do you have in terms of ROI on the investments you make? It’s important that you pursue accounts that align with the value you have to offer and where you plan to invest, otherwise you will be wasting your time and money. Companies that are successful in the long-term take a portfolio-based view of themselves, not an opportunity by opportunity, or account by account view.
Step 3: Create Your Target Account List
Once you understand how your portfolio maps to the needs of your customers you can begin to create your target list. These are the accounts that are the best fit for what you have to offer and that will be the most strategic for you to pursue and invest in. Analyze your win/loss data and correlate it with your portfolio assessment and core competencies. To drive the highest value from data analytics, business development teams are using TechnoMile GovCon Suite that leverages automation, predictive analytics, and machine learning to automate data analysis and build intelligence around target accounts.
When building your target list it’s important to choose accounts that you think are most likely to grow with you in the future. Create a list of selection criteria to help with this evaluation. As an example, selection criteria might include product fit, strategic alignment, revenue potential, growth potential, cultural fit, and strength of relationship. Finding the highest-value linkages between your company and your customers’ companies will lead to greater loyalty and a greater share of their business.
Step 4: Allocate Your Budget for Short- and Long-term Gain
When allocating the budget, balance short-term and long-term investments. If you are too focused on short-term gain there’s the risk of becoming a “churn and burn” proposal shop. A monthly churn of 5% may seem low, but compounded over a year can represent a high churn rate. This will put you in a difficult position where you are constantly chasing after new business and clients.
With a long-term approach, your focus is beyond the next year or two. You’ll want to assign resources—i.e. strategic account managers (SAMS) or critical account managers (CAMS)—to take a proactive approach to developing and winning new business. SAMS / CAMS can drive value by identifying problems or strategic opportunities, offering creative solutions, and moving both organizations toward common goals. However, being too strategic means that you may not have enough pipeline to meet quarter by quarter requirements. It’s a balance. Depending on where you are in your company’s lifecycle, that balance shifts.
If you’re like many businesses 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. That’s why taking a long-term approach and developing deeper relationships with a core group of customers makes sense. These are the customers that are more likely to buy again, spend more than other customers, and will recommend you to new prospects.
Step 5: Build Accountability into Your Plan
Now that you have a plan and are making the right investments—how can you ensure that you are successful and achieve the ROI you expect? You may have the best plan in the world, but if you can’t execute properly you won’t be successful. To do this you need to ensure you build in accountability.
Accountability is translating your strategic plan into goals, clearly defined deliverables, metrics, and milestones with assigned ownership, roles, and responsibilities. Everyone involved must understand the plan and their role in its implementation. There must be clear metrics for driving and measuring performance, a communication plan for keeping everyone aligned, and ongoing reviews to evaluate status and course adjust in a timely manner.
Having the right tool to do the job is vital for success. Working with many of the fastest-growing government contractors, we understand the unique challenges companies face when doing business with the government. The TechnoMile GovCon Suite was designed to help government contractors identify, qualify, bid and win more business faster. Built-in analytics and intelligence provide deep insight into accounts and market opportunities—and enable teams to manage compliance, operations, and account relationships with greater ease.
If you’re ready to explore the capabilities of the TechnoMile GovCon Suite and see how it can help you achieve your business objectives contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more: This is the first in a three-part blog series on Account Management and Portfolio Planning. Next, we’ll look at Account Planning for a Small Company and then Account Planning for a Large Company. Stay tuned and check back!