I recently attended and spoke at the Defense Leadership Forum in North Florida. It was a successful event in a hybrid live and virtual format.
It was my first live event in many months, but the second since COVID-19 caused us all to retreat.
Below are some observations of the conduct of the event and the attendees with whom I interacted.
- Strict COVID protocols and an authority presence (uniformed sheriffs) contribute to feeling safe.
- We can do events safely with proper protocols in place. As the vaccine continues to bring us toward a position under control, other trade shows are beginning to follow suit.
- Events and trade shows will come back. A significant trade show announcement indicates India is emerging. The Palm Beach Boat Show will go on in March. Events in the Middle East are returning. Virtual events will transition back to live events, or at least hybrid events by the end of the year.
- During this particular event, I had the opportunity to make a live presentation, which was also seen by a virtual audience, approximately 600 in total.
- As is typical when I speak at events, many people approached me afterward confessing their limited appreciation of the funding process – it’s a shame because it is knowable and learnable.
- I’m continually surprised at how many companies who have been participating in federal sales pursue contracts as their first point of approach toward a federal sale.
- As I’ve written many times, the contract is the end of multiple sequential and simultaneous processes, all operating in relative motion to one another. Budgeting, Funding, Acquisition, and Contracting are all related processes.
- People continue to repeat the method of chasing the RFP or contract because it’s the part of the process they see and think they know. There is no shortage of GovCon books and a cottage industry of “help,” yet few cover the end-to-end processes.
- There is pent up demand for business development and sales teams to get out and roam the range. They miss the personal interactions far more than we know.
- Many continue to speak of “return to normal.”
- I’m convinced that “normal” will continue to elude them. While the pandemic caught many off guard, most in the defense industry have adapted reasonably well.
- “Normal” travel is over a year away, “normal” meaning you’ll hop on a convenient flight on short notice for a quick trip.
- “Normal” defense budgets will remain as pressured as they have been for the past decade, perhaps even more pressured. Some see FY23 as particularly challenging when viewed in the context of other national priorities.
- Remote work is here to stay. A significant percentage of most businesses will adopt this change. Those of a certain age who grew up in the “butts in seats” or “attendance” mindset must accept this new reality.
- Trade shows will continue but will likely adapt to larger venues allowing for more open space, including outdoor venues in great climates. People are now well attuned to the risks of packing too many people into tight places.
- Conversations with your customer constellation will continue to require your creativity.
Need help engaging with the federal government for a policy or funding your product? Schedule a call with Gene.
To get a copy of Pitching the Big Top: How to Master the 3-Ring Circus of Federal Sales, or information on federal sales, visit Capitol Integration.