Creating long-term relationships with public sector buyers

Public sector authorities across the land attract sales departments like bees to a honey pot, and from across almost all market sectors, not just IT. Departments in the public sector can be vast, from local to central government and everything in between, including police, NHS, schools, MoD and even lesser known agencies such as the NRA and international development.

Some years ago it was difficult to deal with a lot of these departments due to ‘long established’ buying agreements with the larger organisations, however in recent years, partly due to the recent economic recession around 2008, it has become remarkably easier to deal with these government organisations with regard to selling products and services, especially IT solutions and services. The recession had a big impact on almost all departments, schools, NHS and MoD. With many projects being scaled back or cancelled as a result, available monies being re-directed into more critical areas.

However it was a wake up call for many of these departments. Before the recent recession monies appeared, to me at least, did not seem to matter. Spending £5 or more for a one-metre Cat5e patch lead, £25 on a 1GB USB memory stick…yes, these are true figures from only a year or two ago. One of the major problems with departments was that the ethos was: “it was not their money anyway, so why bother getting a better price?” I’m not saying this was the case for all departments, but it did happen. Being cash-strapped means these buying departments now look at getting better deals on like for like products, but from my experience its also about thinking not just what they need for now, but for the short-term future with regard to compatibility, expandability and of course value for money.

Take for example data cabinets. Offering a lower price, but of course equal quality product is a much sort after product that spans schools, NHS and central government. Not only does the customer save money on the product but by informing the government ‘buyer’ that the monies they save would mean they could spend extra on say a VM machine, more memory, maybe even more operating system licences etc. The aim is thus two parts. One – to offer them better value for money, but more importantly, two – to explain that any ‘savings’ can be used for other projects that need to be purchased.

Like sales, government agencies and departments are targeted on lower purchasing costs. This of course is there sole aim, however, if you, the IT solutions or services company can offer that bit extra in the way of value and here is the vital bit, explaining that the savings they have now initially made could be used, for example, to buy extra services or products, this would not only increase your own sales goals but also it would mean you may have created a long term relationship with the government buyer.

Image source: Shutterstock

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