How to Create a Winning Public Sector Sales Strategy

There’s currently an emphasis on improving the UK’s procurement environment. The ‘Transforming public procurement’ green paper writes that the ‘current regimes for awarding public contracts are too restrictive with too much red tape for buyers and suppliers alike, which results in attention being focused on the wrong activities rather than value and transparency’. 

‘This stifles innovation and deters small businesses and start-ups from ever bidding for public contracts. We can get rid of duplication and bureaucracy, making the system more agile and flexible while still upholding fair and open competition.’

In short, there’s more opportunity for businesses to win government contracts. To win these contracts, you need to prepare. In this blog, we’ll cover how you can create a winning public sector sales strategy.

Develop Workflows

Procurement isn’t known to be a fast process, so developing workflows is the way to go. These will help you stick to a templated process for each stage of the sales process.

In many cases, sales teams can turn to workflow automation software to keep track of their bids. For example, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are software applications that help track engagement and customer information. 

One useful thing to remember is tracking public sector sales in Excel is old-fashioned and disconnected, meaning any data isn’t properly visible across a sales team. This type of working will do nothing for your strategy. 

Leveraging Contextual Knowledge

Public sector organisations demand their contract suppliers are clued up on their business, needs and the wider atmosphere of their industry. Be it transport, construction, healthcare or IT; there’s a vast universe of nuance, background info and untapped resources private companies need to utilise. 

The sales teams that manage bids will often be tasked to bid for multiple contracts at once, which can mean a lot of information needs to be gathered. Whether it’s routine office supply or a multi-million-pound transport contract, this is a crucial task and can make the difference between understanding the needs of a contract and completely missing the mark. 

Your research needs to involve all the stakeholders within a contract, from mayors, city planners, transport officials, healthcare professionals, CIOs and many more. Similarly, if you can, look into what the stakeholders have been involved with in the past to glean any key insights that could improve your chances. 

This kind of intelligence can help sales representatives, sales teams and bid writers to more accurately develop a bid, leveraging those all-important contextual insights to inform their work. 

Utilise Granular Data

Public sector sales strategies need to be grounded in data. This isn’t just about looking into the data surrounding a specific bid opportunity, but it also requires sales teams to develop strategies that capitalise upon historical data, like previous bid results, contract turnout and market changes. 

Similarly, historical data will aid when working to understand pricing sensitivity over time and past contracts’ efficacy from a regional perspective. You can look into where you and others have been successful in both industry and location and potentially predict where market gaps will arise. 

The types of sales data you could be analysing in order to improve performance could be:

  • Total sales by time period: The performance of your sales team over time.
  • Sales by lead source: The sources have brought in your previous sales and those that have failed.
  • Sales per prior activity: The number of sales that were made after a certain activity, such as face-to-face meetings, phone calls, emails etc.
  • Number of sales lost to competition: This helps when determining any trends for competitors who operate in the same industry.
  • Revenue by territory: This helps you determine where your services are the most popular.
  • Revenue by market: Like revenue by territory, you can use this to determine if a specific service of yours is more popular than others. 
  • Cost of selling as a percentage of revenue: This determines the percentage cost of sales and identifies whether you can begin to make changes to lower these costs.

In this day and age, procurement sales can be data-driven, utilising the above metrics (and others) to inform sales decisions, such as lead prospecting to pricing changes.

Using data helps to save time by determining the areas and clients that you should be targeting. For example, it can show you which areas and markets aren’t buying what you’re selling, doing away with the need to target everywhere in a useless  ‘spray and pray’ practice. A data-driven approach to a sales strategy has been seen to make a business up to 6% more profitable than competitors.

On top of this, you can also access the sales data from within Contracts Finder, which is a real goldmine of information. There’s a vast array of information that covers what is being bought and who is buying it, alongside data relating to finding partners and checking up on contracts.

For example, the Digital Marketplace sales are all published, where you can see what types of contracts have been published and awarded. 

Essentially, studying the past will help inform your strategy when preparing for the future, helping to improve your wins and begin to score even bigger contracts than before.

Do’s And Don’ts When Selling to the Public Sector

There are several unwritten rules for selling to the public sector. Here’s what you must not do:

  • Don’t forget to engage with customers before a tender is issued. If you can, help them with pre-tender work, but make sure anything you do pre-tender doesn’t disqualify you from potentially winning it. Get in touch with the tendering organisation before you bid to find out what exactly might disqualify you.
  • Don’t waste resources on tenders that don’t truly apply to you. There’s no point wasting time, energy and money on contracts other businesses are more prepared to supply for. Target those you know will give you a good shot of winning. 
  • Don’t turn delivery into disaster. Public sector organisations want to see projects can be delivered on time and within budget. You need to include all your previous projects’ outcomes in your bid and make sure the final delivery goes without a hitch.

On the other side, here are the things you must do:

  • Use Contracts Finder. Get to grips with these systems so you can quickly and effectively search for public sector contracts.
  • Choose partners wisely. This means not partnering too broadly. You need to choose to work with third-party providers that fit well with the target public sector organisation’s needs. This will help to increase overall reliability.

Public sector procurement is an increasingly lucrative opportunity for businesses - the key is knowing how to discover contracts and make connections. To do so, attend our virtual summit, the Public Sector Show 2021.

The Public Procurement Playbook

Want to learn more about the public sector procurement process and win more public sector business? Download the Public Procurement Playbook.

Topics Covered Include: 

  • Public Procurement Trends & Stats
  • How to Target and Find Contracts 
  • Improving Sales Potential & Outreach Tips
  • Tips for Winning Contracts 
  • Managing the Bid Process 
  • Links to Other Useful Resources 

Download the Public Procurement Playbook