Can Better Marketing Create Better Value In Federal Contracting? This Former Contracting Official Says "Yes!"

February 16, 2022 00:44:14
Can Better Marketing Create Better Value In Federal Contracting? This Former Contracting Official Says "Yes!"
I See What You Mean
Can Better Marketing Create Better Value In Federal Contracting? This Former Contracting Official Says "Yes!"
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Show Notes

For a retired Fed-turned-contractor who claims to not have a sales bone in his body (I'm not sold!), William Randolph knows how to market. After 25 years in government contracting, he not only knows what the government is looking for - he knows where they're looking for it. And it's not just in proposals.

In this episode, William and I discuss how government contractors - especially small businesses - can use social media to distinguish themselves from their competition and build a brand that's not only seen by contracting officials but is looked to as worth meeting, before a solicitation drops. Will explains how improving presolicitation conversations not only increases wins but produces superior value and meets the mission, while reducing risk. Here are some of my favorite ahh!-ha moments:

6:35 - Becoming "top of mind" for potential customers

11:30 - Federal contracting as the ultimate meritocracy, and how marketing right makes you more meritorious

14:12 and - How better marketing helps the government "better ask" for what it buys - with a fun example of buying apples for a pie

25:42 - Marketing-as-edutainment, edutainment-as-adding value, and why small businesses can't afford not to try

29:16 and on - Three things to be on the same page about in Federal government contracting - value, mission and risk

41:06 - Branding as a virtual avatar of your business and what it stands for

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:06 Welcome to, I see what you mean the podcast about how people get on the same page or don't, or perhaps shouldn't today. My guest is William Randolph. William is a retired acquisition official who owns and runs think acquisition and independent consulting and coaching firm dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of all players in the federal government acquisition space. William, welcome to the Speaker 2 00:00:27 Show. Thank you so very much glad to be here. Thanks, Speaker 1 00:00:30 Sir. I'm looking forward to our conversation. Why don't you start with a short bio about yourself, so that listeners know a little bit about your background? Speaker 2 00:00:38 Sure. So the really short version, uh, grew up on a 100 acre tobacco farm in Southern Virginia. So, uh, I, yeah, I, I know what hard work looks like and I haven't seen it since I left, since I left the farm. Um, but, but first caught us first thing smoking out of a small town in Southern Virginia, which was the military. So went into the Navy for five years. Did that came out GI bill in hand, went to school in, in, uh, West Virginia and then, uh, found the federal government and federal government procurement from a standpoint of acquisition and contract started as a con. It started out as a contract specialist and for the next 25 years, I feel like I did very well in that space. I found, I found the people that I found, the thing I was put on the, on the earth to do. Speaker 2 00:01:30 I often say I, I, uh, I felt, I felt like a child that was lost in the woods raised by wolves. And then my people came and found me. So when I found procurement, it was like, ah, my people I'm back. I'm back. They, they came and got me. So I retired in 2016, did the consulting thing around the DC Metro area for about three years and then decided I, I truly found the thing that I was passionate about, which was education and training and, and hone my own shingle in 2019. And haven't looked back since Speaker 1 00:02:02 Excellent. And I know you are passionate about government acquisition, and we're going to talk more about what you're doing with it today. Cause you had a long career in it, but now you're doing now you're in a different position. We're going to talk about that. So, you know, when we were preparing for the call, we talked about something interesting, very modern and maybe highlighted by the pandemic. We talked about communication channels between government and in industry. And we talked about the fact that there are so many more today than there were when you started out. Absolutely. And you raised the question about whether you thought communication was better between government and industry, then look for, for the sake of having all those communication channels. So, so that's an interesting piece of the question of the puzzle of getting on the same page, the communication channels, let's start there. What's your, what are your thoughts about it? What did you see while you were, while you were on the, on the government side of acquisition and now you're in this in-between place, helping government and industry connect. What's it look like to you? Speaker 2 00:03:04 I've seen a big change since I left government in 2016. So you think about eight years ago when I was in government, there appeared to be only a one or two communication channels to government. That was the formal channels. You see formal things come down and fam.gov or you, or you saw things like RFID and things of that nature. There was the, it was the typical channel. And then there was the unofficial channels, which were when we met together in conferences and affinity groups, we'd go to a big conference or something that was an additional channel to influence that, to seek, to influence federal government. Now, obviously pandemic just took out all of the expos and conferences. You know, that's a thing that gradually coming back, but what has happened is they've been replicated in other fashions. So there are more communication channels, but I'm just not sure they're as effective as they could be. Truly, truly more communication channels. From a standpoint of it's now you to Instagram, Tik TOK, all of these places, link LinkedIn, even from a standpoint of where I really planted my flag, LinkedIn is really where a lot of businesses happening, a lot of communication is happening and I just don't see a lot of companies doing it well, Speaker 1 00:04:28 That's interesting. So let's unpack this year. You actually, when you raised the question to me, I thought you were thinking of the difference between now and maybe when you started in government. You're talking about just when you retired just recently, you see big change, okay. Communication between government and industry is just, it's important generally for goods, relationships for good product and service delivery. It's especially important. Are there some special reasons, there's some particular reasons why it's important during an acquisition process and my experience and you and I did some of this together through a Q set and affinity group. It was act, I act it was okay. My experience was, there was a great desire on the part of government to understand, to understand a little bit more about how industry D made decisions go no-go decisions, bid no bid or how they, how they thought about us technical solution, how they price something. And there's a great interest, same curiosity, as you know, on the industry side, for understanding how government writes that solicitation, this list, tension that schedule C is a, is an intended solution to a problem. What, and, and, you know, you read the words on it when you're on industry side, you read the words, but you're wondering, I wish I understood more about what they meant by some things. Speaker 2 00:05:46 Absolutely. What's behind it. What's behind Speaker 1 00:05:48 It, not secret. What's behind that. Just what some certain things mean. So I understand the government rationale. How does the government see a problem? If I understand how better, how it sees a problem, I might be able to better help propose and deliver a solution, right. Respond to it. That's hard to get really clear through written word Speaker 2 00:06:08 Extremely hard. Right. Speaker 1 00:06:09 And you know, we know it's tough enough sometimes just to be clear between Lou and will on some simple email communication. Speaker 2 00:06:16 Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:06:17 You do something as complicated as a solicitation. Yes. All right. That can be tough. So how do you see government or industry using some of the more modern, more contemporary channels such as the social media platforms? What have you seen happening there? Because I've not seen a lot of that. I just stopped and looking for it. Yeah. Speaker 2 00:06:35 So Lou, I tell you one of the things that I actually in my coaching practice, one of the things I coaches is this concept of how to become top of mind with your government buyers. And end-users. So how do you, how did you do that? And the premise is really, it's really very simplistic. There is going to be a day when someone wakes up with a headache and they don't have a headache every day. So they're, they're not looking for talent. They're not looking for Tylenol every day. But one day they're going to wake up back a knee hurting headache and what you want them to do when they wake up is to remember, oh, I remember I saw this guy over here. He sells Tylenol. Maybe I should call him. Maybe I should reach out to him. Maybe I should go, try to find that piece of content, where he was talking about my colonoscopy. Speaker 2 00:07:30 Okay. Maybe I should go to try to make that connection. So what we coach is having a constant drum beat, whether that's, whether that's blogs, whether that's video, whether that's articles, whatever it looks like. I have seen some of my clients and I've even done it too, to create video podcasts that every week they're pushing content, that's, that's showing one thing, Hey, I've got Tylenol. Whenever you wake up with a headache. I think of me when that connection occurs, that's where those are. Those informal communication channels that, that foster influence. Because when they have a problem, they have you top of mind, that's the, that's the model that I'm sitting. Speaker 1 00:08:18 You're, you're, you're talking about the what's become a intelligent use marketing use of the social media platforms of that presence. Absolutely. Put yourself out there on multiple channels where people might find, because sometimes government customers in their personal lives will see things on other channels. Right? Right. Not just the executive role. Uh, and you're talking about, like you said, articles, blogs, podcasts, maybe a little ads. Doesn't matter. You're just talking about, be a presence. What that presumes is the very earliest steps or stages in the acquisition process. What happens that in the end, the thinking of a government official, what's the, what's the next, the next thought part, part of the thought process. Speaker 2 00:09:06 So, so I, I don't think it's anything I'm going back to your, your, your point you made earlier. There's nothing nefarious here going on it. This is in my opinion, the ultimate meritocracy, I th when I think about government procurement, the ultimate meritocracy, those that are successful rise to the top, those that can revive value rise to the top, ultimate merit, ultimate meritocracy. However, that system is run by humans. Okay. And humans do business with people. They like no interest. So the goal of these touches of this exposure is to increase your likeness, to increase your knowledge and to increase your trust. Okay. The old marketing used to talk about, you have to have seven touches people, you move to see you seven times before they would even contemplate pulling the trigger. This is all about, let's get the seven touches in, come on, let's go. Speaker 2 00:10:08 Okay. If that's a podcast, that's an article, that's a logo. That's a little meme card. It's like, oh, these people are all over the place. They must be amazing in the space. It's getting the seven touches in. Okay. And, and that's what, as a result of that is where you grow the knowledge likeness and trust makes sense. Okay. So then, so, so it's not so much that it's, that there's some black arts that we're trying to accomplish. Some, some Jedi mind tricks. It is simply we understand if we understand human nature and understand that people do business with people, they like know and trust, we must do the activities to increase those attributes. Speaker 1 00:10:52 Okay. And then what does that do for someone on the government side? How do they use, or, you know, put into use the, the, the like know and trust factors, because there there's, there's different ways to do acquisitions. Absolutely. Like knowing and trusting somebody could lead to a proper sole-source. But when you're going, let's say it's more full and open a bigger competition. What is, what is a government PM on the, uh, program office side, or what's a core or a CEO do with that feeling of, they've got a feeling about one or more organizations from the kind of marketing you're talking about. Speaker 2 00:11:30 So I, I go back to my, my, my premise that has just stated a little earlier that federal government procurement is the ultimate meritocracy, but there is tons of discretion in that system. Okay. There are more, there are multiple points along the acquisition lifecycle where discretion, meaning choice, right. You know, discretion, meaning choice. There are choice opportunities that the individuals can take actions based on their strategies. So for instance, we put something out to the world, RFI to the world, but in the document we said, we reserve the right to talk to anyone. One-on-one if we find something that's interesting. Oh, discretion. Gotcha. Okay. So now you've seen the seven touches. The person has responded to the RFI, and now it's like, would you please come in? And we would have talked to you for hours. Let's hop on a zoom for an hour under the guise of market research. Speaker 2 00:12:26 This is actually a thing. It's a thing. Okay. But imagine the ability to tease out the true secret sauce simply by having planted seeds in the PMs or the contracting officers said that these guys really, I see them all over the place. They've been talking, I listened to the podcast and they're doing all this stuff over here, and they've had connections and they've got colleagues and they've got partners. They have we've, we've got to get, they know something. We don't know. Imagine the, imagine the, the outsized leverage or ROI of those touches now to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, Speaker 1 00:13:08 Well said, well said, I was just thinking that, and you put it well, because what every consulting company on the, on the contracting side of the Gulf con relationship hopes to do is what, you know, the phrase shape this solicitation shape, shape this limitation. Again, we're going to just probably keep making this caution. But I think a lot of people who hear us know what we're talking about, we're not talking about something improper, because if you shape that solicitation, what that means is the CEO is going to put that whatever words come out of that process, they go out to the whole world. Sure. Everybody gets a, which again, comes back to the meritocracy. If the government has met with some parties in open conversations, which are permitted at that stage of the process and learned more about, cause here's what you're talking about. I think really what ends up happening will in my experience was the government learns better how to ask for what it needs. Yes. Cause it's not easy. Speaker 2 00:14:08 No, that's the, that's the art and science of the process. Yeah. Asking better questions. Speaker 1 00:14:12 The government learns better about how to ask for what it needs. So it gets back better proposals from any number of parties. Now, if Lou helped shape the solicitation and will seize the substation that comes out, you might be, let's just say that the, that, that was a better quality. It sure. Clearer. I always want to understand the relationship of technical requirement to the business need. I always wanted to understand that. Yep. Let's say this kinds of things are clear. Now Will's looking at that and he's not part, and he's not teaming with Lou. You're just going to be able to respond to it better too. Absolutely. We all can respond better to it. And that's the benefit of, I that's one benefit I can think of from the kind of the whole process you're talking about, that you said with coaching industry side of mix, a marketing effort to become that presence. Yes. So that perhaps you can become an influencer. Speaker 2 00:15:07 Yes. It's a thing. Speaker 1 00:15:12 What are your former colleagues feel about that? There's so many sensitivities on the government side and somebody doesn't want to do something wrong or cross a line or accidentally do something wrong. How are, how are you seeing folks on the government side of this equation where I'm up to this is, I like this, this is good. It's okay. It's proper. And I like it. I'm using, I want to use it more or they're saying I, I'm not sure. Speaker 2 00:15:38 So, so, so Lou here, here's where, here's where it's so powerful. I think the influence is occurring and they didn't even know it. Okay. Okay. That's the, that's the true power of it. Now, if you, if you make the highly stylized, highly produced 20 minute mini movie and you try to send that around. Okay. That's not going to go over with, you know, while there's a procurement on the street, it's like, oh dude, what do you do with it looks okay. But if you've been doing a podcast for a year and you've got 52 episodes, right. And it's like, Hey, I'm just going to tune in and see what they're talking about. And you build confidence over time. Or you writing an article that says, look, congratulations. We just failed some innovative thing here. And we'd like to just share with the world what we're doing. Speaker 2 00:16:33 And if you'd like to hear more, you know, link up with us and we will have a constant drum beat of information or contact us for our one page slick, it's like, it's happening. It's it's just happening in the background. The seven touches are getting are happening in the background. Now here's, here's the example that I often use just to try to bring this home. The government is, if you don't mind, the government is looking for, has the RFI out for apples. They want to buy apples. And they assume that they want red delicious apples. That's what the RFI we expect to buy red, delicious apples. Now though, the first thing that industry should be saying is what are you going to do with the apples? Because that informs the type of apple that we should be providing. Whether you're making apple sauce, candy, apples, or apple pie. Speaker 2 00:17:23 Those are three different apples. They all could be red, but there are three different, they show up differently. The response shows up differently. The government comes back and says, we're making apple pies. One of the respondents says, Hey, look, I know you all said, you all wanted red apple, but I'm going to tell you a granny Smith apples. Aren't the best apples to make an apple pie with. The government says, we know we had never heard that before. Please come in and talk to us. We know you sound like you've got secret sauce. We're not going to try to ask that question out in general public because we know you're not going to give the secret sauce at the industry day. But Tony here let's do a one-on-one. Tell us more about this. So-called granny Smith, apple. Not only do they tell them about the granny Smith, apple, they bring a pie. Speaker 2 00:18:13 That's been Smith apples in it, and they taste the pie demonstration market research under the gods of water. They taste the pies that man isn't the greatest all we've ever tasted. Now that construct does not result in a sole source contract for granny Smith, apples, but the required here's the shaping, the requirement changes. The government nail says, we'll take any apple. Okay. We'll take any apple. It has just been shaped. Now, even if they went further in the government, changes, their wholesale changes their requirement from red delicious to granny Smith. Think about the company that I did. Defy granny Smith. That's been has past performance baking we're granted Smith has the best orchards, two, two granny Smith, apples. They have a competitive advantage, right? Just because of their past performance. It's not an unfair competitive advantage. It's just saying we have demonstrated to the market, to the customer, to the consumer, which is the government that we have a full, what they want to deliver. Their requirement hasn't changed. They want, they won't pass, but for the best customer experience for the path, we have shaped this in such a fashion that we can demonstrate our prowess in the marketplace and deliver outsized unlocked, leveraged value. That's what it's about Speaker 1 00:19:48 For example is a good one because I read so many solicitations where the government, the government's doing its best to explain what it needs and it sometimes presumes some of the solution in the ask. Yeah. Um, yeah, if you need, if you need number two pencils, you should just ask for number two pencils, but we're not talking about those acquisitions as procurements. We're talking about things that are, if they're more problem-solving in nature involving it involving, you know, organizational processes involving innovation through more, much more complex. And if the government presumes some or all of the answer in a way it asks the question, it might not realize it's precluded other possibilities. Speaker 1 00:20:37 So, so sometimes like you said, the conversations all above board, all proper with, with respect to the far, just open up mind of the government to go, let's ask it a different way. Yes, yes. And, and, and that's, I think that's good business for everybody. Absolutely. Because really what you want in the end is you want the best solution. You want to be the provider, but from a citizen standpoint, you want the best solution to the problem the government has, is trying to solve and asking the better questions we believe is going to get us better, better offers and better solutions. Let me ask you this question about the CEO's Kors PMs roles. There'll be involved in acquisitions, central roles. A lot of those folks are very busy during the day. Don't have a lot of spare time. Is it likely you think that is part of their day or a personal time they are checking out a podcast or they are listening or they are reading a blog or they are can CA what are you, what do you believe is the case for the companies that take the time? Because it's very time-consuming and make the effort to market the way you're talking about. Let's say multichannel, sure. Getting their message out through different channels. And each one, you know, sort of a proper use. You gotta, you gotta know what you're doing on each channel. What's the likelihood that government officials have some time, these days to check into those things so that when they wake up with the headache, they remember what they saw. Speaker 2 00:22:06 Yeah. I, I think it's, if I had to put a number on it, it's 60, 40 it's 60. Oh, oh, maybe it's, you know, 63, 66, 34. It's like, two-thirds, we're leaning that way. But we have to acknowledge, there is a group of acquisition professionals that are still doing it the old way, that, that think the first time a company should be doing capture and shaping it's when the RFP drops and anyone in industry will tell you if the first time you see something, it's when it drops on sam.gov, late, move on, move on. So one's been tracking that thing for months. It has, it has, uh, has a, has at least had a head start thinking about it, putting the team together, doing solutioning, even if it's at the RFI stage. And in my gracious, I, I, what I have learned since I left government is that industry spins gobs, technical term, gobs of money, trying to understand as early upstream as possible, what, what the federal government is going to be doing strategy. And there's people's jobs. People have made jobs and made very lucrative businesses, trying to fill the gap in communication. Yeah. Okay. Trying to figure out as soon as possible what they think. Okay. So there's no, there's no definitives and it's not definitive until he hits the street. Okay. But what they think is going to occur, and I was like, wow, this is, this is a, this is a cottage industry that has been designed and developed to fill a gap in communication. Speaker 1 00:23:55 So that there's context, there's better information, a broader context. When you, when that solicitation drops and you read it, you're not thinking about something for the first time you've got background on it. Absolutely. The other thing. So here's the thought I want you on your point, which is a fair point. Um, we've got, uh, we've got a contracting community. That's in the process of retiring. Well, look at us. I'm 61. Speaker 1 00:24:21 And you know, you retired from, from a full career service, and now you're doing part two of what you want to do. Contracting officials are going to retire. Younger professionals are going to come up through the ranks. Some of those are going to have be much more comfortable with the social media platforms. We're talking about that. That's fair. I just use them, use them in their personal lives, have built into their routine. If they work out, they'll listen to a podcast while they're working out. Right. Those kinds of, they just sort of woven those, those channels into their lives in different ways. Now, as I've been working on my own marketing for the practice, I'm rebranding, I was surprised to learn. Maybe it shouldn't have been, I was surprised to learn how many people listen to podcasts on, on YouTube. Not because it's a visual podcast, it's still the audit. Speaker 1 00:25:07 It's still just like, what we're doing is going to be the auto, you know, the audio, but because they've chosen YouTube as their sort of channel of choice. Right. And so once they're there, they're there and they watch some, like I do and put into my watch. So something about cooking or bar bar making a drink and he listened to a podcast while you're getting dinner ready. Sure. I used to look at work in those things more and more to their lives. And maybe that, that means over time. What you're saying is the thing to do now, because over time that 60, 40 two-thirds one-third might shift. Speaker 2 00:25:42 Yeah. Uh, you know, Lou, there there's a word out there. It's kind of Frankenstein from a co from a couple of words, but it's called edutainment. Okay. Richard, what you just, what you've just described is edutainment. It's like, I'm going to get, I, I'm just waiting in line. Um, I'm, I'm at the grocery store. I'm waiting in line or I'm at Walmart or I'm waiting at the doctor's office or I'm waiting for them. I'm waiting for the kids. I might as well be. I might as well. The first thing we do is pull out our phones. Okay. So we have to compete government contract that has to compete. Okay. And I think as, as we do that, I think people will start that edutainment piece. We'll, we'll, we'll grow more legs. And to your point, the new generation of acquisition professionals, they don't know anything else other than smartphones. Speaker 1 00:26:36 And here's the thing too, but it comes down to an individual preference. Uh, one of the things I was talking about the federal government was the commitment to a mission. So there are people who do what they do and love it. Then that means they want to learn. So he was the entertainment. They want to learn more about if it's, you know, some ways that environmental impact statements are being done or something to do with AI or whatever it is. So they might be seeking out those podcasts just to learn, makes them it's there. They're interested in it. They're curious, personally, professionally, it makes them better professionals. And then part of what you're saying, then this is where, what, what you're saying comes in. If you're a contractor and you can create that presence and keep yourself out there and that way, right. And there's, you got to let people know you're doing that. There's a kind of a piece of their marketing where you let people know to look for you and listen to you. Absolutely. But once they start, if they find your material valuable, this is what you said a second ago. We're competing for time and attention. If you find the material valuable, you go back to it. Speaker 2 00:27:36 Yeah. If you come back, I just wanted to, some of that, I was, I was reminded I was reminding of something. And you may have had this experience too. Can you remember when there were Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, uh, commercials on television. Okay. Okay. Just think about, that's not okay. They had the big ship or big missiles or whatever it was. They had name and brand recognition. Right. When was the last time you even looked at a commercial, much less a Lockheed Martin, or if you look at Netflix commercials are gold. Speaker 1 00:28:14 Right, right, right, right, right. Speaker 2 00:28:15 It's not a Speaker 1 00:28:16 Thing. Right. Speaker 2 00:28:18 And it's in a streaming service commercial. When's the last time you seen a commercial. Okay. So, so that's the, that's the shit. When the big guys had the money and the marketing budgets and the channel through television and the eyeballs. Okay. That was an equation that worked in their favor. Absolutely. We now have the channel that the small guys we have, we now have the channels in our favor and it cost us nothing, but a data plan on a cell phone, on a smartphone to be able to make our own commercials and get in front of the people that we want to get in. That's how we compete. Speaker 1 00:29:03 And like you said, you have that, we have the benefit, but by doing that, I've really ever really educating. So if you're writing blogs, if you're doing a podcast, the way to do it is to teach, Speaker 1 00:29:16 Provide value. And yes. All right. Let's, let's shift in a little bit because I think there's important implications for what we're, what we've discussed for getting on the same page. We implied it. Let's talk about it a little bit more directly. Tell me what you think. So, you know, the podcast, what's it mean to be on the same page? How do we get there? What helps? What hurts? What do we do if we can't? What do you think it means to be on the same page with an acquisition, like the gov con, but both sides of the equation on the same page. Speaker 2 00:29:48 Okay. So on the government side, there, there are kind of three things. These are based on my experience, right. There are three things. The acquisition team is seeking to do deliver value. Okay. Okay. Execute mission. Which, which are, which are closed, but they're separate. Right. You can, you can buy the thing and buy it well, but it not solve the problem. Right. Okay. So that's two different things. So, so to deliver value, to actually execute the mission, number two, and number three is to reduce risk as much as possible. All right. Okay. Now that third one can, can go so far, the needle can go so far that you go into a risk averse construct. Right? Okay. And then that's detrimental. Yeah. But please know that the, that, that the contracting officer's job is to get that thing across the finish line. Okay. We get measured by what gets accomplished, not what we try. Speaker 2 00:30:55 Okay. So things that get in the books, that's how we, how are we getting it? We have to get in the end zone, how do we get six points is we've got to get it, that thing in there. We've got to run that ball into the end zone, using a football analogy. Right. So anything that precludes us from a nice, easy run into the end zone is a risk moment. So the system is designed to reduce the risk as much as possible because the rewards are, it's got to get into the end zone. All right. So when you think about getting on the same page, those are the three pages industry needs to be thinking about how do they unlock extraordinary value? And that's a one off, that's a one off situation that's event driven. How does that value contribute to the mission? Right. Right. Speaker 2 00:31:49 So, so that you can, you can, you could, you could take the customer experience, concept and say, okay, I just built a widget, so awesome widget, but what in the heck is this widget? What's the value this widget is going to provide to the end user, the citizen. Right. Okay. The, the mission construct, build that into your solutions. Think about the end state and then reduce the heck out of the risk. One. Don't introduce any more risks. Okay. And then think about how can you as the widget manufacturer or the service provider reduce risk upstream. So it never even gets to the government that the government would have as a conversation about the risks from risk aspect of your goods or services, you should be re you should be building risk reduction in from the idea not after it shows up. It's like, okay, now what's our risk mitigation plan. Speaker 2 00:32:48 It's too late. It's too late then. So that's from a, from a, from a, from an acquisition perspective, those are the three areas that I, that I think you want to get on the same page. You want to, you want to be top of mind that people remember you. And it's like, oh, these people gotta be a part of the mix because they deliver extraordinary value. They, they make sure that they, they, they put, they put metal on target in terms of the mission they hit. They hit the target every time. Okay. And then, and then third that they are helping us reduce risk, not even introducing risks, but they're helping us reduce, reduce. Speaker 1 00:33:29 I like that. Tell me a little bit more about how that and acquisition team thinks about the idea of delivering value. I have a way that I could think about that, but tell me what your, when you said those words, what's that mean? Speaker 2 00:33:42 So delivering value is ethic is two things. It's the goods and services. It has a budgetary component and economics component. Yeah. Okay. And that in government, we always have to remember. We have, uh, we have a body of detractors that are just waiting for us to fail. Okay. You don't get it straight from me. Speaker 1 00:34:07 I get it. I get it. Speaker 2 00:34:10 When we succeed. No one stands up in class, but when something falls off the rails, it's like, oh, let's, let's take everybody to the woodshed. Speaker 1 00:34:21 Okay. Well, okay. Speaker 2 00:34:24 So we have to always remember that from a, from an acquisition perspective, that's always in the background. We, we we'd attempt to, uh, at least in my time in government, we attempt to not lead with that, knowing that look, we've got 532 professional detractors. Okay. We got, they are professionals at admin at pointing out, oh, look what you did. So, so that's, so that's always in the background. So if it's always in the background, it's always in the stew of the solution. Then when we're building solutions, we gotta think about that. Now what that does is that causes some risk averse. So wait, so it's it's so it boggles my mind when people talk about all the system is so risk averse, you built it that way. It's a reaction. It's a reaction to the 435 detractors. Yeah. Speaker 1 00:35:23 Okay. People are, people are rewarded for planet safe. Yes. They're not rewarded for taking chances. It really, really fair point. You raised about the system, how it's set up and the effect it has on acquisition professionals, acquisition team. Are you familiar with the, with, um, some called the business model canvas? You might've seen that over. Okay. Speaker 2 00:35:47 I see various canvases. The business model may be one. We, you know, a permutation of the various lean canvases. Right, Speaker 1 00:35:56 Right, right, right. Yeah. You should check it out. You'd like, it, it talks about toxins in very clear ways, about eight elements or nine elements. I forget of a business model. I, I, I made it down to eight, so I think there's actually nine. And what value means, and it means some of the things that you were saying, but the words they put on it were you add value to a customer's life or take away pain. Right. And, and they, and in the book, they just do this kind of, uh, it's it's, it's not a heavy thing. It's just like a paragraph of each of there's three different ways. You can add value. There's three different ways to take away pain, little paragraph feature, nice description, just real, real short and sweet. And so to deliver a value could mean, I mean, you, you, you identified some three great things there. If you, if you can define the way you would add value to a customer's life or take away pain from a customer's life and how that accomplishes business objectives, that are part of the mission. And look, man, just talk about what the possible risks. Soccer. Speaker 2 00:36:55 Yeah. You hit the nail on the head. I was sitting here thinking about it. I've got, I've got the secret. I've got the secret sauce. It's like, it's really complex. Sometimes. Sometimes you gotta just take a little time and process it, but, but here's how it's done. And we keep the secret kind of locked up in a ball. Okay. But, but for what, for today, I'm going to, I'm going to unlock the secret, ask questions, ask questions. What are you going to do with it? What's what's your window. What's your value window. Yeah. One of the things we, we rarely do in government, I see it happening more and more is what's the, what's the solution envelope in terms of price that you're willing to, that you're willing to pay. You don't have to give me the exact number, but are you looking for a $1 million solution? Speaker 2 00:37:45 Or are you looking for what? $10 million. Those are two different solutions. Yeah. Okay. Those are two. We might able to solve the problem both ways. Yeah. But, but which one are you looking for? Because I can then design a solution to fit in your window. So we don't even have to have this conversation about affordability. Okay. Because if you build a $5 million solution for a program that has $4 million, what have you just done? You created another problem, right? You've created another problem. They've got to go find a million dollars. It might be the best solution on the planet for their mission need. But what you've done is instead, instead of giving them Tylenol, you just kicked them in the shit. Speaker 1 00:38:29 Yeah. Well you give him, yeah. You give them more a headache. You give them a problem to solve, to make it. Speaker 2 00:38:36 No problem. No problem to solve. So imagine asking you that question early on. Right? Speaker 1 00:38:42 Right. Well, and if you have a five minute solution and they're looking for a 1 million, you overpriced, if they're looking for a 10 million chances are technically your solutions. Not particularly exciting. Speaker 2 00:38:54 Yeah. It's not as robust because they were willing to invest more. They're willing to invest more in this than Speaker 1 00:38:59 Great, great point. You know, there's, there's a few things about risk to talk about. One of which is you could spend more money to reduce risk. You could spend a little bit less money and accept a little bit more risk. That's a conversation to have Speaker 2 00:39:14 Communication. Speaker 1 00:39:15 Now, pause these thoughts for a second. And think what if a government contracting official officer the CEO with working with the PM puts a solicitation on the street and doesn't know much more about the world of that problem and solution than what they already know. And the contracting, uh, companies that get it don't know much more about what the government's wrestling with than what they read. That's not a winning opportunity for anybody. No, Speaker 2 00:39:44 Th that move, what you just described is the world's most expensive version of read my mind. It's like, well, I'm not going to tell you everything. And I'm not going to ask everything and then throw stuff in the pot. And we will pick out the one that was closest, closest to what I was thinking. It's like, dude, well, not just talk. Speaker 1 00:40:09 And, and so to have more conversation, you've got your industry days, you've got your one-on-one meetings, you've got sort of the show show and tell part of an acquisition decision-making process. I liked, I liked the demonstrations or I liked the presentations. Then add layer that onto that the channels we talked about and being a presence on them so that people who were subject matter experts in an area, and they know who's in that space doing what, and they're listening to those podcasts or there's reading those blogs right now, you're talking about a different level of information exchange, right? Yes. And you know, you could think about marketing as a means to the end of closing a deal. Okay. That's that, but it could be more than that. If it's about that edutainment piece. Yeah. Now you're just doing something different and you're, and you're showing value when you're not asking for anything. Yes. Speaker 2 00:41:06 You know, one of the things that I, the words that I, the one, the words that I like to using in lieu of marketing is branding, right? What you're doing is you're building a virtual avatar of your business, right. This is what we stand for. You're not selling anything. And, and I think we've, we've been around each other enough. You know, I don't think I have a sales bone in my body. I was just, I just, I'm not built that way. Okay. So what I had to learn to do is to demonstrate the value by articulating the brand of William Randolph and think acquisition that whenever you hear those two phrases, William rent, that name William Randolph or that, or that company name think acquisition, something comes along with it. There's a body of understanding that comes along with it. We're not selling anything overtly. Okay. But there's a, there's a business behind there. Speaker 2 00:42:06 There's a, there's an ongoing business concern behind that name and that, and that company, that company name, but not once where you see something, you know, only 9 99. It's like, oh no, here's the brain. If you want to interact, if you think our Tylenol will solve your backaches, let's talk, let's talk, let's talk. And you attract, you attract the person you want to do business with. That has been my model. My business model for the last three years is that I attract the people that I attract the people that want to do business with. I think that the thing that I can unlock value, provide an unlocked value for them. And then there's no such thing as a cold call that, right? Yeah. They're all warm and jolly. It's like, where have you been all my life. Speaker 1 00:42:58 That's fantastic, man. That's fantastic. And I've watched some of your stuff online, so I know exactly what you're talking. Cause you do it. You're living what you're espousing, we've covered some good stuff and it kind of rounded it out. Sort of tied it together. Do you want, was there anything else you wanted to go over? Speaker 2 00:43:14 No, I think I'm good. We touched a lot of stuff. So yeah. Speaker 1 00:43:17 Touch this stuff. I really appreciate your time. You know, there's electrical. It's just, I, I knew we were going to have fun because I, like, we always had these conversations. We had another one learned a lot as I always do talking to you. And I th I appreciate you spending time with me. Oh Speaker 2 00:43:34 My pleasure. My pleasure. We welcome to come back anytime. You know, this is just two friends having a chat. We just invited people to, Speaker 1 00:43:42 I that's what I love about it. And I can listen in. All right, my friend. Thank you so very much. Thank you. Have a good day. All right. You be well, take your shirt, right? Bye-bye bye-bye and that's how we see it. My friends, I want to thank will for recording today's episode. You can find it at, I see what you mean dot dot com. Plus all the usual places, send questions and suggestions through the app. Subscribe and give me a five-star rating unless you can't. In which case, tell me why and join me next week. When we take another look at how to get on the same plate and stay there, unless we shouldn't.

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