Allowable gifts garner know-like-trust and more wins at fiscal year-end (and all year long)
At the end of the fiscal year, and all year-long, really, federal buyers need ways to come to know, like and trust you.
In a previous post, I covered the most important of those ways—The 12x Factor: How to Close More Federal Contracts at Fiscal Year End.
“But wait!” you might say. “Federal government employees aren’t allowed to accept gifts.”
When you registered in SAM.gov, you checked a box that said you know all about, and comply with, the Federal Acquisition Regulations, including Part Three.
What’s it about? Ethics.
It spells out clear limits on gifts and gratuities. Most buyers won’t accept a gift of any value.
But there are certain things that buyers could really use, would absolutely love, and can legally accept.
Some of them will surprise you.
None of them will cost you money.
All of them are priceless, especially now, at the end of the fiscal year.
1. Market Research
Helping your buyer by providing market research gives them the precious gift of TIME.
One of my clients was in line for a recompete and, many months before the RFP came out, her team created a comparison chart with columns containing all the top suppliers in their niche and rows showing the different facets of their services.
|Top supplier #1||Top supplier #2||Top Supplier #3|
|Service facet #1||x||x|
|Service facet #2||x||x|
|Service facet #3||x||x|
Of course, my client’s column was the only one with X’s all the way down.
If you give this gift, be mindful of its title and how you present your company’s data. To avoid your gift being perceived as salesy, do not give the file a distinctive name—for instance, “Why Our Firm Outshines the Rest,” and don’t bold or otherwise call out your company’s column.
A gift like this is genuinely helpful and saves the contracting shop a LOT of time.
2. White Papers
White papers not only position you as a thought leader and expert; if done well, they are also truly useful.
You might also be able to provide your federal buyers with a white paper:
- On how to assess their cyber vulnerabilities
- With five use cases for data analytics
- On what to look for in a great staffing company
It could also provide training about your industry, or how to find the best company.
The key thing to remember when creating white papers is the radio station federal buyers are tuned to every day, all day: WII-FM.
WII-FM stands for “What’s In It For Me.”
Although the paper should and will talk about you, it must begin with your buyers.
What are their pains, challenges, and opportunities?
Pull buyers into the paper by discussing those points, and then, later, introduce yourself and your solutions—the very solutions that will help the buyer experience the transformation you promised within the paper.
An “About” blurb is appropriate early on, but only as evidence of your authority for readers who may not know you.
3. Free Mini-Trainings
Whether a webinar, video, or educational email series, a free mini-training can serve your buyer and get you in front of the team.
Although a training might not turn into a contract over the next couple weeks, it will set a foundation for future projects.
These trainings are also delivered over station WII-FM, which means they’re tuned to and begin with the challenges, pains, and opportunities your federal buyers face.
If your training will use a slide deck, then these hints about creating compelling slide decks will come in handy:
- Slides should support, not replicate, what you’re saying; you don’t want to be reading the slides to your viewers, as there is nothing more boring and yawn-inducing
- Use images, bullet points, and lots of white space.
- It’s better to spread the message out over more slides than it is to reduce the size of the deck by cramming as much as possible on each slide.
- If you’re giving people copies of the slide, go easy on colors; no one likes handling a wet deck thick with printer ink.
Think white, light, and airy and it’s hard to go wrong.
And finally, to wrap up this post, let’s talk about the best gift, the gift of gratitude.
4. Thank You Letters
I love thank-you letters! I love writing them, and I love reading them.
Write a letter of recommendation in your hand, on your letterhead, and with your signature, thanking the project manager, program manager, or contracting officer for whatever it is they did to help the project go well.
Send a copy to their manager.
This is not an email. It is also not a two-line, handwritten thank you.
For the thank you letter to be effective, make it a multi-paragraph letter, handwritten on your letterhead.
This letter will go into your buyer’s permanent file and could end up framed in their office.
A handwritten thank-you letter is better than any prize, gift, or giveaway because it can affect future promotions and career opportunities.
And—guaranteed—they will never forget you for that.
I remember when I worked for the government, I brought a file THICK with thank you letters into management when preparing for my annual review. It never failed to impress.
Thank you letters are crucial, easy, PERSONAL, and powerful.
Invest in a supply of beautiful stationery and envelopes, as well as great pens that don’t leak or smudge, and give thanks all year long.
If it’s too late to give gifts to bring in more wins at fiscal year-end, then it’s the perfect time to prepare to give gifts in the next fiscal year, which is just around the corner.