There are so many government business development consultants out there, and every one of them wants you to believe that only their business development strategies will help you succeed. How do you separate the real gurus from all the wannabes?
There’s no one trait that distinguishes a great business development consultant. There are a range of talents and experience that formulate their business development strategies that indicate genuine talent. Here are four traits to look for when picking one.
Make no mistake: Government contracts are often a game of “who do you know?” and a consultant who legitimately has a good list of contacts can be an excellent resource. However, having a long contact list is only part of the picture. If they only talk about their contacts, be wary – they probably lack a well-rounded knowledge base on how to actually get work done themselves. They may be an excellent source of referrals, but their “consulting” work may be shallow.
Many consultants enter the game after spending years or decades within government or military positions. This can sound initially impressive, but the problem is that gives them a very “ivory tower” view of private defense business realities. They may have a challenging time interacting with your own business and staff, many never fit in at all. Look instead to those who have at least some mix of government and private experience, for the best results.
One of the biggest risks in hiring any consultant, not just in government business development, is that they will provide a lot of information that sounds good, collect their paycheck, and leave it to you to discover months later that their strategies didn’t work. Look for consultants who are willing to be held accountable for their work, or offer longer-term guarantees. Make sure you know what happens if what they recommend doesn’t work out for you. Where will they be and will you get the help you need then?
Successful business development consultants will have great referral sources. It will be easy to know how they have worked with in the past. If they are good, these people will give you others to talk to who will also know their work. What sales have they helped facilitate and how does that relate to your kind of target opportunities for new projects? How have their business development strategies been put to practical use? A truly successful government business consultant will have a list of past achievements, or previous clients you can contact for testimonials, and won’t be afraid to show them off.
If they closely hold the keys to getting information about their past work, assume it’s for a reason.