3 Tips for New B2G Sellers and Marketers

Some sales and marketing skills are universal - understanding your customers' challenges, crafting the right message, demonstrating your value proposition, etc. However, selling to the public sector comes with unique challenges, procedures, rules, and timelines. Many seasoned IT sales and marketing professionals overlook these key differences when selling to government. This post will discuss three key tips you need to know if you're new to the B2G market.

Tip #1 - Rules, Regulations, and Laws Are Important

B2G sellers and marketers must remember that public agencies have strict and detailed rules for purchasing goods and services. Not only are public officials expected to provide services, but they must be good stewards of the public tax dollar and undergo regular and thorough oversight. Government officials who do not follow proper procurement procedures and regulations risk severe consequences such as being fired or even legal action. Vendors who demonstrate an understanding of the agency's purchasing rules are valued. Agencies publish their procurement policies online, so do your homework and learn how your customers buy!

Tip #2 - Public Sector Officials Take Ethics Seriously

Research has shown that one of the key drivers for public sector employment is the desire to make a difference and help people. This mission is the foundation for the work government executes. To this end, public sector officials must abide by a stringent set of ethics to ensure the public's money and trust are maintained.

"Public employees shall act in good faith to discharge their duties to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all persons who deal with government procurement; to foster public confidence in the integrity of the procurement process; and to ensure the appropriate application of purchasing ethics." - State of Hawaii Procurement Code of Ethics

Here are a few things to keep in mind with selling and marketing to the public sector:

  • Communicate through the proper channels at the proper time: In order to provide for a fair buying process, public agencies may set strict guidelines for how and when vendors should communicate with government officials.

  • Transparency: Assume that any communications and documents involving a government official are public record and are liable to be inspected for oversight and the public trust.

  • Remember the mission: Public employees are generally working towards an intrinsic and benevolent goal - they want to make a difference. Gifts of any kind - whether they be goods, services, money, or anything else - can set off red flags of impropriety.

Tip #3 - Understand the Budget Cycle and Purchasing Timelines

While private businesses have budget cycles and fiscal year ends, these are not nearly as engrained as those in the public sector. The appropriations process in government can be slow, long, and confusing. It is not uncommon for a procurement to last well over one year!

  • What are the dates of your customer's fiscal year? Most state governments run from July 1 - June 30, however some begin in October and April. Local government fiscal years often correspond to the calendar year, but not always.

  • Is your customer's budget cycle annual or biennial? 20 states maintain a biennial budget cycle, while most local governments are annual.

  • When is the right time to influence the budget? Budgets are major pieces of legislation that require an enormous amount of work from many different officials. Vendors who engage in conversations before the budgetary process set themselves up for success down the line. The chart below shows the typical state government budgetary process.

Source: NASBO 2021

SLATE can help you supercharge your public sector sales and marketing game!

SLATE estimates the state, local, and education IT market will be worth nearly $3T in 2022. Do your teams have the market intelligence and insight to propel them towards success? SLATE Research & Consulting provides market intelligence and custom research services for tech companies selling to state, local, and education agencies. Learn more about our services, preview our work, and set up a free consultation today!