Why public sector business development needs an overhaul

public sector business development needs an overhaul

Public sector business development for companies seeking work with local governments has traditionally involved:

  • Attending city council and public meetings 
  • Reviewing agendas, minutes, reports and budgets
  • Building relationships with key government contacts
  • Waiting for RFPs

This traditional public sector business development worked quite effectively when civic activity was fairly slow and competition was light. 

Times have changed. Across North America, municipal spending and infrastructure expansion are at an all-time high. The ramp-up means financial opportunity for businesses, but it’s also more difficult to stay on top of local government needs.

What’s wrong with public sector business development the old way?

Especially for businesses that are the incumbent service providers to city hall, it can seem like old-school business development still works. But it doesn’t anymore. Why?

First off, keeping up with city or municipal meeting activity, plans and budgets has become far more difficult. The volume of meetings and data available from local governments has multiplied in the last few years, which means many more hours of research by business development teams who need to stay informed. 

Why not just wait for the RFP to drop to bid? You may be shaking your head already as by the time an RFP is assembled, for many firms it’s too late to fully discover needs, and prepare a compelling winning bid that’s sure to be both successful and profitable.

On top of that, in almost every industry from construction and engineering to IT and critical infrastructure, the competition has increased. Larger firms are finding ways to discover local government projects early. This is often in response to increased public pressure to seek multiple bids to award contracts for a fair price and to worthy businesses. 

With all that’s shifting, even if your firm has won work in the past by being the incumbent at city hall, you need more than relationships in place to win going forward. 

What new approach is needed for public sector business development? 

To win local government business today, companies need to find out about public sector opportunities before they become RFPs. Maybe your business development team has already identified this new reality. But how will you address it?

Many companies first try adding business development reps or asking sales reps to hustle harder to attend every council meeting and perhaps committee meetings of education and utilities agencies. 

After meetings, your business development team then needs to examine reams of pages of plan documents, past meeting minutes, and watch video recordings for the rare snippet of insight that could help you see an RFP coming and so that you can position wisely.  

If your team has tried all this, you know it is incredibly time-consuming and not scalable, especially when your company is seeking work across a broad geographic region or hundreds of cities.

Are relationships still critical in the public sector business development?

Not everything has changed in public sector business development. Relationships are still critical. Building government contacts allows for the possibility of getting insights into upcoming projects and getting an early word in on how your business offers rare expertise or value. Also, it may allow for you, as the supplier, to help the buyer shape the RFP requirements. 

But before you can do any of that, you need to know who to get to know to establish credibility when you bid on public sector projects. Advanced intel to discover who the key decision makers are and who’s involved in the proposal review process could be a game changer.

How do you get ahead of local government needs and RFPs?

If hiring alone won’t get you a leg up in winning public sector contracts, what will?

You need to equip your business development team with technology to make better use of their time and detect emerging local government contract opportunities faster.

Today, technology automates the work of mining local government meeting minutes, agendas, budgets and videos. Beyond what RFP sites do by listing government work that’s already public, government market intelligence platforms help business development teams detect emerging contract opportunities early and identify key contacts and project needs to win the business.

Major international firms have used government market intelligence tools for a long time. With advances in data analytics and artificial intelligence there are now affordable tools available for enterprises and even mid-sized businesses. Ontopical is one highly trusted platform.

How Ontopical helps enterprises improve win rates on public sector business development

The Ontopical government intelligence platform with its AI Copilot, Oliver, helps companies detect potential public sector business development opportunities, exactly right for their business, up to 12 months before the RFP.

  • Get early bid & quote alerts – See relevant government opportunities in your inbox.
  • Learn about ideal opportunities ahead of RFP – Follow new opportunities you care about and stay apprised of new information as it is released.
  • Get fast answers to build winning bids – Save hours by linking to relevant bid information within local government long documents, videos and meeting minutes and get answers on budget, key contacts, project stage and more.
  • Track competitor activity – Protect your accounts. Know who you’re up against. See who competitors are selling to and how.

Find out how Ontopical might help you discover and increase win rates with public sector business. Tell us a little about your company to see a personalized demo

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