It's happened to every government contractor. The perfect contract opportunity arises, but by the time you hear about it, there's barely enough time to complete the proposal, let alone build the relationships necessary to give the agency an idea of the value your business can provide.

The fact is that most contractors are entirely dependent on referrals and repeat business to find work – without an existing relationship, it's almost impossible to win a contract.

Does this sound like a familiar dilemma? If so, you're not alone in your frustration. Contractors say that when it comes to developing business, the single biggest challenge is getting project and government-contact information early enough to foster strategic relationships.

Whether you're looking to expand geographically, focus on a new government market, or just outperform the competition in a tight market, relationships and timing make all the difference. The best way to get in on the ground floor of a project is to get involved at the planning or even pre-planning stage. For that, you'll need early notification of sales opportunities and up-to-date contact information for the people influencing the contract.

Early Notification of Government Sales Opportunities

In government projects, some of the most coveted information comes early in the project, such as land-use planning details, zoning changes, development type, proposed use, and key players in the project. With this information, you can get a head start by doing the following:

  • Discover projects are in the land use planning stages
  • Track which competitors and potential partners are pursuing certain types of government projects
  • Monitor whether spending activity is trending up or down, and for which types of projects
  • Identify business expansion opportunities and growth markets
  • Forecast demand for your products and services
  • Evaluate overall market conditions and identify pockets of opportunity
  • Fill your pipeline with qualified, actionable opportunities in the planning and design phases

The other piece of the puzzle is locating contact information for key players such as planning and zoning officials, project managers, and potential partners. Agency contact information is notoriously hard to find, and promotions and turnover can quickly render existing contact data inaccurate. Once you have your hands on up-to-date contact information, however, you can combine it with historical data to do the following:

  • Create customized direct-marketing lists and targeted prospect pitches using agency contact information and project histories
  • Identify and evaluate prospective partners by reviewing past experience and current activity
  • Connect with the right agency contacts before an RFP is issued, specifications are set or teams are formed
  • Warm up your cold calls and present your company as a solution, not a vendor
  • Target city-planning officials for more information

Getting in on the ground floor of a project allows you to influence specifications as well as keep your company at top of mind for future endeavors, but the time and money it would take to track down the necessary information keeps many companies away.

If you want a head start on projects, consider receiving daily alerts, contacts and project details from a business intelligence company. With targeted, hard-to-find information delivered directly to your e-mail inbox, you can spend less time looking for information and more time acting on it.