Contractors grapple with business development

Contractors are establishing strategies for cultivating new government business, and some companies have successful approaches in place. However, their business development practices vary, and everyone must adjust to changing market conditions, according to a report Market Connections released today.

Lisa Dezzutti, founder of the research firm, presented the study's findings at an event today hosted by Deltek Systems, which commissioned the study. Deltek makes GovWin, a business development software product.

The firm interviewed 34 company officials in the survey. One of the questions asked how they use automated tools. GovWin ranked third, with 18 percent of the survey's respondents saying it is a primary tool they use. Internal software led the responses, at 28 percent, and 19 percent said they use Microsoft Excel.

"We got a mix not only of the tools but of when those tools are used in the process," Dezzutti said. Companies often use Excel in the early stages of generating and tracking leads, then use GovWin for later stages of the process, the survey shows.

The survey also found that 59 percent of companies organize their business development efforts by agency, and only 3 percent by technology type. Another 38 percent have either a hybrid of the agency/technology organization or some other arrangement.

Dezzutti said that because the sample size was small, the survey should be considered exploratory rather than conclusive.

Business executives who took part in a panel discussion following the presentation named common themes.

Lee Cooper, a senior vice president at L3 Titan, said positioning and influence are the critical elements of winning business. "You have to make sure you start to influence the customer early on," he said. "You have to outthink and outsmart your competitors."

"You have to have a zero-risk solution in [customers'] minds," said Greg Bedner, president of Perot Systems' Government Services division. "They don't want to get fired for hiring you."

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