This is the final post in a series of four that explains the benefit of subcontracting on government contracts, how to market to contractors and how to network with them. This post will provide tips for better selling your services to government contractors.
The more you think about it, the more appealing subcontracting is. Once you’ve proven yourself as a stellar subcontractor, you’ll be more likely to be hired again and again by the same contractors, which keeps your pipeline of work nice and steady throughout the year. Whether you decide to go after work as a Prime or continue to build your subcontracting business, to get to that point, you have to sell yourself and your services to other contractors.
Building a Better Presentation
Just like in any sales pitch, you’ll need a proposal and possibly an oral presentation that highlights your strengths and outlines how you can best serve the contractor. Keep it short and to the point: remember that presentation slides shouldn’t cover everything you plan on saying out loud, but rather just the highlights.
Make the center of your presentation about the benefits of working with you as a subcontractor. First, clearly and quickly answer the question for your audience as to what the benefit to them is. What unique skills do you possess that the contractor would be hard pressed to find elsewhere? What experience lends itself to the current project? In other words, why are you bigger, better and badder than any other subcontractor out there? You want to quickly address up front – what’s the benefit to the Prime to choose YOU over other contractors. Otherwise, why should they even listen to you?
Practice Makes Perfect
And just like you did in high school, you’ll need to practice presenting your pitch. Don’t write out paragraphs and memorize them, or you come off sounding awkward. Instead, memorize key points, and expound upon them. You can use your slides as a reminder of what you should be talking about. If anyone asks you a question mid-presentation, you should be prepared to answer it.
Be Specific in Your Claims
Saying you’ve been in the industry for 25 years won’t cut it – so have your competitors. Making generic promises to do the best job possible isn’t impressive either. Instead, back up any claim or promise you make with evidence. Can you provide a list of satisfied customers from the past 25 years? Have you won awards for your exemplary work? Do you have a proven track record of completing projects on time and under budget? Any of these details would be more impressive to a contractor than the empty phrases other subcontractors throw out.
Don’t Promise the Moon
One area you shouldn’t be like a typical salesperson in is overpromising. If a contractor asks if you can do X task and you can’t, be honest. It’s better to be open up front than to take on work you’re not qualified to do and botch the job. He may be testing you, and may not really expect you to have that skill, so don’t put your foot in your mouth by saying you can do more than you can.
Know When to Shut Up
As humans, we don’t like silence. We try to fill up any gap in conversation with words. But in your pitch, don’t be afraid of it. Give the contractor you’re trying to sell to the opportunity to reflect on what you’ve presented to him, and to ask questions. Silence doesn’t necessarily equal bad news. Just let it pass over you until your audience begins talking.
Once you’ve gotten a few sales presentations under your belt, you’ll become more confident at giving them. And the more confident you are, the more subcontracting jobs you’ll secure.
Next month we’ll tackle some questions around if, and how, tactics like social media, blogging and email marketing can help you in your efforts to reach other contractors.
Which selling best practices have helped you expand your business as a subcontractor? Share your thoughts!