Is Now The Right Time To Hire Your Federal Sales Team?

You will find that when a company decides to pursue a Federal vertical, the first thing the think about is hiring a Federal sales team to spearhead the initiative. More often than not, this is the worst action to take and one we often advise against.

Instead, start by honestly asking yourself, “are you ready to start selling to the federal government?”  

As you begin to answer this question for your company, you will examine 4 key business factors that may indicate that yes you are ready to start building a Federal Sales Team.

4 Signs You Are Ready To Hire A Federal Sales Team:

1. The Government Can Purchase Your Product

As a general rule of thumb in sales, you need to determine if your customer has the funds available to purchase before diving too deep into the sales process. This same rule applies in Federal sales, you need to determine if the Government can purchase what you are selling. 

However, capacity to purchase in the Federal market rarely refers to money (the U.S. Government has loads of that) but the processes they need to follow in order to make the best spending decisions possible on behalf of the taxpayers funding them. This means:

  • Does your product meet the specific product certifications outlined by the Federal Government?
  • Do you have access to the specific contracting vehicles that agencies needs to purchase through?
  • Do you meet the right set-asides that the Federal Government needs to purchase from?

Why does this matter? While it is occasionally possible to sell products to the federal government without the proper product certification, it is impossible to build a sustainable sales vertical without them. Without the ability to build a sustainable vertical, then any Federal sales hire will be pointless because they will not be able to capture the revenue they were hired to attain. When determining what certifications you need and when, it is best to build a sales certification roadmap, so that you can maximize your spend.  Essentially a sales certification roadmap will map out what opportunities are present with what agencies and the certification you will need to pursue those opportunities over time.   

The last two points will be examined in more detail under section 3.

2. Your Marketing Efforts Are Aligned To The Federal Decision Makers 

Marketing is an essential element of Federal sales and if your efforts do not align with Federal speak, then you may not be able to efficiently capture your decision makers’ attention. When marketing materials developed for commercial markets is used in the Federal Government space, it can actually hurt your brand in the minds of your potential Federal customers. This is because it indicate to federal customers, that your company does not understand their problems, and does not care to try to understand their problems. Ultimately, it can be an unnecessary obstacle for your sales team to overcome in their sales process.

Before you hire a Federal sales team, ensure that your Federal marketing plan is in place and includes: 

  • Federal Elevator pitch 
  • Federal Product Slicks 
  • Federal Email Templates 
  • Federal Sales Presentation 

3. Your Channel Program Is In Place

Similar to Federal marketing, a great commercial channel program does not mean you have a great federal channel program. The goal of any channel program is to extend reach and leverage the investment of channel partners to increase everyone’s sales.  When done correctly, a good channel program can increase sales over 1,000%. 

While this is the goal of a Federal channel program, there are specific nuances you need to address when building a channel program specifically to increase reach and revenue within a Federal market, such as: 

  1. Do your channel partners have relationships with the agencies you are targeting?
  2. Do your channel partners have a contract vehicle to sell to the agencies you are targeting?
  3. What is the citizenship of the key personnel within you channel partner?
  4. Do your channel partners have cleared resources?
  5. Do your channel partners have the ISO certifications necessary to sell your solution?

While it is possible to sell directly to the Federal Government, it can be difficult, and most business end up building a federal channel program. Selling directly to the Federal Government, is generally only a good option if you are a small business, you have a set-aside status, you have a contract vehicle, or you have a unique solution that no one else can offer and the government is willing to procure it via open market. Without one of these avenues to sell, then you almost certainly need a channel program. Furthermore, even if you have one of these avenues available to you, a federal channel program may expand your reach and capacity to sell customers and agencies that you do not know.

4. Your Company Is Willing To Invest In A Federal Sales Program

There are two things the above initiatives and the goal of hiring a Federal sales rep have in common:

  1. Correctly executing on these elements will result in a long-term, sustainable sales pipeline.
  2. Correctly executing on these elements require a significant investment from your company.

If your company is not willing to commit to invest in the necessary product certification, a federal marketing plan, a compelling Federal channel program, and an experienced top-notch salesperson with 2 years of runway with no significant sales, then you are not ready to enter the federal market.  

When investing in a Federal sales hire, it is important to remember:

  1. High level sales demand high incomes. You will never get the right sales rep if you don’t pay at or above market rate; conversely, paying too much does not guarantee results. The key is finding the right salesperson and compensating them well 
  2. The best sales reps are currently employed. They don’t need a job, and so you will have to aggressively pursue them. 
  3. Bad sales people don’t get better, they just suck away your time.  Live by the motto, “Hire slowly, fire fast”. 

Are You Ready To Build Your Federal Sales Team?

If you can confidently agree to each of these four factors, then you are likely ready to being building your Federal sales processes and team!

Need help building your Federal sales practice or hiring the right people for your team?

Our team has successfully built several Federal sales startup practices and secured millions of dollars of revenue directly from the Federal market and our mission is to help other organizations do the same!

Use the form below to request your FREE Federal Sales Consultation and learn how you can increase your Federal sales with the help of Sanctum Federal!

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