You know the feeling, when the Federal fiscal year is about to end or has just wrapped. Maybe you’re waiting to hear about wins, super busy onboarding new clients, or closing the books on what didn’t happen. Everybody’s ready to move on. It’s done — not a minute too soon! You’ve wiped the slate and are planning for the new year.
Not so fast, I say, not so fast! There’s something you need to do, and it’s called a Federal Q4 Sales Hot Wash.
What is a Hot Wash?
In one definition, it’s an after-action cleanup of tools, especially military weapons, to remove dirt and grit after firing.
A Hot Wash is also an after-action review of ventures such as situations of crisis management or high stakes activities. If there was a breakdown or malfunction, why did it happen? What needs attention?
Either way, it’s a prime opportunity to clear the decks, examine what worked, what didn’t, and why, and be ready for action with lessons learned on board.
A Hot Wash helps you get your tools ready for the next cycle of opportunities by improving your planning, your operations, and, I hope, your results.
You can see why I recommend it as a best practice for my clients every year (and why I aim to do one myself for my own business, too).
It’s also — BONUS! — an opportunity for you and your team to celebrate your successes. Why is that important? In a word, RESILIENCE — the equivalent of gas in the emotional tank, like having a booster jet pack ready to strap on for when the going gets tough.
What a Hot Wash Is Not
While the information we gather in this process will be detailed and inform our annual planning process, it’s not a substitute for a comprehensive plan. It’s not an annual prize festival. And it sure isn’t about pointing fingers to blame someone for what didn’t go the way we hoped.
Who Should Do a Hot Wash?
Are you a company that wants to grow? Well, this one’s for you.
It’s also for you if your company is edging up to the top of a small business category and wants to manage your growth. Maybe you’re close to graduating from your 8a program, or you’re anticipating outgrowing one or more of your size standards, graduating from small- into mid-tier. You might be on the brink of realizing you’re about to grow fast – an excellent reason to do a Hot Wash!
Any company that wants to get its obstacles out of the way and focus on what will help achieve its goals needs to do a Hot Wash. You could be facing a make-or-break year when you foresee something momentous is expected to happen. This is for you too.
Basically, if you’re in the Federal market and serious about your success, I recommend you complete your Federal Q4 Sales Hot Wash by the end of October, while lessons learned are still fresh. If time is slipping away, don’t panic! The tips and resources I’m about to share will make it easier for you to get this done by Thanksgiving at the latest.
Think of it as creating a fresh, strong, firm, foundation for next year’s marketing plan.
Why Should You Do a Hot Wash? What’s in It for You?
You spent a significant amount last year in your business – cash, sweat equity, blood, sweat and tears. An average company in the Federal arena spends anywhere from $30,000 – you read that right! – to $233,000 a year on marketing, sales, and business development.
If you consider what you spent to be an investment, you want to know the return-on-investment (ROI) on it. Could you have done better? Did you leave money on the table? If yes, how do you ensure you don’t do so next year and in the future?
You’d also want to examine that investment in terms of its contribution to your goals.
What were your Key Success Factors? What went well, and how would you use or replicate it? Were there things that didn’t go well? What did you learn from your successes and surprises, and how did each relate to your earnings?
If your marketing and sales budget were an investment portfolio, you’d be looking at that portfolio regularly and with care, to make sure the mix of risk was right to bring you the return you wanted.
That’s what smart GovCons do. What you learn will help you do more of what leads to the successes you want…and drop those investments that are dragging you down or even losing you money.
When you drop the low-performing investments you’ve got more resources!
Your Hot Wash will also give you ideas of where you might reinvest — perhaps in new skills and resources or expanding the high-performing assets. It’s not unusual to discover time, money, talent, and sweat equity suddenly available to try new things. That means we’re better able to innovate, stay competitive, anticipate challenges and be agile and responsive to the inevitable surprises that the Federal market throws at us.