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Integrating strategic, marketing, and sales planning with performance support

We originally set up our Incubator Program to help guide government contractors through the process of strategic planning, opportunity targeting, and capture. But we’re thinking about expanding it as a result of a couple of conversations we had this week about how the program can benefit other types of companies. We’d like to share some of what we’ve learned in a way that you can put to use, whether or not you ever participate in the program. You can use our list of topics to develop your own marketing and sales plans, or you can have us guide you through it.

The Incubator Program takes the form of a series of 16 sessions (one per week). Each session focuses on a new topic that builds on the last one. The sessions start with defining strategic goals and then map them to customer targets. Then we add a lead qualification process with the specific goal of obtaining the information needed to capture the lead.

While we first designed the sequence of topics with government contractors in mind, if you look at other types of companies like private sector contractors or web-based businesses, you’ll find similar needs. All businesses need to develop offerings around strategic goals, map their strategic goals to target customers, generate leads, implement internal reporting, develop proposals, and close sales. While each type of company is also very different in how they do these things, you can learn a lot by comparing and contrasting them. Consider:

  • With US Federal Government contractors there is a lot of data to work with, including the amounts purchased by each buying office, broken down by product/service codes. You can start by identifying which agencies purchase the types of goods and services a company offers. Then put in place strategies for making contact and searching for relevant procurement opportunities. You should also put in place the right processes so that as leads are identified they are properly pursued to maximize your chances of winning the proposal. With state and local procurements you can take the same approach, but have to look in more places to get the data you need. The sessions dealing with strategic planning, targeting, and lead identification are very much data driven.
  • In the private sector (business-to-business or B2B), you take a similar approach, but there isn't one place where procurements are announced or centralized databases for researching procurement history. Depending on your particular product/service offered there could be many or there could be none. To address the needs of private sector companies we modify the sessions dealing with strategic planning, targeting, and lead identification to focus more on traditional marketing and sales for lead generation, and use the process to enhance lead qualification and pursuit collaboration.
  • Web-based companies are a special subset within the B2B category. Web-based companies get the majority (if not all) of their leads online, and may even close them there as well. CapturePlanning.com is a web-based company, so it’s a category that’s near and dear to our heart. Instead of getting all techno-geeky, we focus on the business issues — things like what markets to target and how you can tell if you’re reaching them instead of the best practices for coding the site.

The following table shows some of the other differences between government contractors, private sector (B2B), and web-based companies:

Topic Category Government Contractors Private Sector Web-Based
Strategic Development Develop offerings and customer relationships that fit with government buying patterns and contract vehicles Develop offerings and customer relationships within market segments that are defined by geography, capability, user profile, demographics, etc. Develop offerings and customer relationships within market segments that are reached via search engines, email, social networking, and online advertising
Lead Generation Needs to ensure a competitive advantage at RFP release or use of other contract vehicle Need to integrate marketing and sales so that lead qualification sets the stage for lead capture Need to design pages and forms to integrate marketing and sales so that lead qualification sets the stage for lead capture
Reporting Pipeline development needs to support progress reviews that improve your win rates as well as supporting financial projections Pipeline development needs to support progress reviews that improve your win rates as well as supporting financial projections Needs to facilitate monitoring and optimizing conversion rates
Closing The process should deliver the information needed to build a proposal around what it will take to win The process should deliver the information needed to build a proposal around what it will take to win Pages and forms should deliver the information needed to respond with what it will take to convert

In addition to the type of business, its size is also relevant. One company that contacted us was too small for the Incubator Program. A series of 16 consultant-led sessions adds up to a significant number of hours that drives the cost. If all of your business development and lead capture work is done by one person, then there is no way to spread or share that cost. For a company this small, a single-user membership is a better balance of cost and benefits because it provides the process documentation and online training without the weekly sessions that drive up the cost. It enables a small business to "do it yourself" without having to directly pay for someone's time.

For companies with anywhere from several people to several hundred people involved in business development, the Incubator Program helps get everyone on the same page and guide them through the process. Different people may be involved in strategy development, target selection, customer contacts, lead pursuits, and proposal development. Some people will prepare progress reports, and others will need to assess them. The best results come when everything is fully integrated and reinforces each other.

If your business development efforts rely on more than one person but you are still pretty small, you should think about the foundation you are building. You may be small now, but once more people (especially when they are at different locations) get involved in business development, it becomes much harder to get everyone on the same page. If instead of waiting, you bring them into an established way of doing things, they not only come up to speed quicker but you are also institutionalizing your process (as opposed to struggling to convert everyone and get their buy-in). One of the reasons we include a Corporate Membership with participation in our Incubator Program is to give you access to our documentation library and online training to help you institutionalize your business development process, helping you build growth into your corporate culture.

Companies often think in terms of preparing a strategic plan, a marketing plan, or a sales plan. They usually write them and then the documentation sits on a shelf. The next time you're engaged in planning, try thinking less about producing a document and more about what people need to know about each of those topics in order to go forth and capture new business.

 

 In just 16 weeks our Incubator Program helps you develop a strategic plan, turn it into targets, identify leads, define your pipeline, and implement the processes you need to capture business 

 


Find out more about the CapturePlanning.com MustWin Process for business and proposal development 

 




By Carl Dickson, Founder of CapturePlanning.com



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