Truth #1 – You must have buy-in from Senior Leadership of your company.
Without it, you’re dead in the water, plain and simple. If 100% commitment doesn’t start at the top, your sales reps – in-house or independent sales reps – won’t put in the necessary effort. Landing a VA contract takes tremendous patience and perseverance. Senior Leadership must be fully supportive of this goal and make it part of the reps’ day-to-day responsibilities.
Truth #2 – You must pursue the right government contract.
There are many types of government contracts and it’s very important you do your homework and understand which contract is the right contract for your product. Otherwise, you’ll waste a ton of time and energy spinning your wheels. [And who’s got time for that?] I won’t get into the weeds right now about the array of government contracts but let me give you a simple example: If you’re pitching an orthopedic product, you need to be on the contract specifically for implants or orthopedics. Don’t wait in line for a lengthy period of time only to learn you got in the wrong line.
Truth #3 – Your reps must be properly trained.
Yes, I know that sounds obvious but it’s where the ball often gets dropped which means all that time and effort that went into landing the contract in the first place goes to waste. Your reps and Region Managers [RM] must fully understand the VA Clinical Product Review Committee [CPRC] process or your product will never find its way into the system. Say, for instance, your rep visits with a physician and that physician loves the product. Three months pass and you’re still waiting to write the first order. What happened? It’s because you have to go through the CPRC at each individual VA facility. When dealing with the VA, no one size fits all. VA contracts are not always systemwide. I can take you through the intricacies of CPRC if you’re interested.
Truth #4 – You must do follow-up rhythm calls.
By doing so, you’ll hear powerful, peer-to-peer success stories from one VA facility to another. You’ll also discover if there are any barriers. This is valuable information and you’ll likely need expert help managing your way through these challenges.
I’ll be straight-forward here and just say it: VA workers are government employees and we know some of them are inclined to be clock-punchers, not overly motivated to take on tedious administrative tasks and details. It’s easier to throw up a smokescreen and make excuses. You need someone who knows how to challenge them and get the process moving again.
Truth #5 – You must be aligned with the appropriate government distributor.
If your company doesn’t have a dedicated sales team, or if you only have RMs that manage independent reps, you have to align with the appropriate government distributor or distribution network. Some distributors focus only on VA or the U.S. Department of Defense while others have no coverage at all in Government Accounts. It’s critically important to find the right and proper government distributor for your company’s specific product category. This is not an easy task without a fair amount of expertise and experience working in the government sector.
If you embrace and honor these five truths, you, your company and your product will have the greatest likelihood of success. But here’s the best part: Many people wrongfully assume government always gets the lowest price. Not true. And while it pains me as a taxpaying U.S. citizen to say this, government often pays a much higher price than it needs to. But there’s a reason for this. Landing a government contract is nothing more than a hunting license. It gives you the right to take your shots and absolutely nothing is guaranteed.
If I’m an executive at a small- to mid-sized company, I absolutely want government business because it can be enormously profitable if managed correctly. Let me repeat that. Government business can be enormously profitable if managed correctly. Further, a government contract is like an annuity, it never stops earning. Once you’re in, you’re in and volume and profitability grow and grow.
Finally, after you’re in the system for a while and your product is performing well, a trust is often formed and you’ll find government personnel more willing and interested in learning about other products your company has in its portfolio.
But as I stated at the beginning, it all starts with accepting the five fundamental truths. After that, the real work begins. Excelerant Consulting can help guide you along this journey into what can be a very complex and complicated structure akin to an iceberg.
ABOUT LEONARD NALL – For 25+ years, Leonard has successfully directed large corporate government sales departments. He has mastered government sales and contracting by interacting directly with customers at all levels of Federal government. Leonard has sold more than a half-billion dollars in products and services, including radiology, cardiology, anesthesia, prosthetics and implants, operating room products and surgical disposables, central supply, sterile processing, biomedical engineering, emergency room, intensive care unit, and logistics and contracting. He serves as Co-Chair of the Medical/Surgical Committee for the Coalition for Government Procurement which affords him access to key leaders at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense.
ABOUT EXCELERANT CONSULTING
Excelerant Consulting is the go-to organization for med-tech companies that need to position products and services successfully for value analysis committees, contract acquisition, and sales modeling and execution to commercialize the launch of medical devices or services with Group Purchasing Organizations [GPO], Integrated Delivery Networks [IDN], or Regional Purchasing Coalitions [RPC]. Our clients rely on us to enhance their product positioning, navigate corporate contracting opportunities, and provide sales support to accelerate sales growth.
For more info, contact Excelerant Consulting at firstname.lastname@example.org.