GovTech Sales Lessons Learned, 1/n — Pricing

Over the past decade, I have worked with local governments in various capacities, ranging from a researcher at a think tank, to a business development lead at a tech nonprofit, to working within government itself and interacting with folks in those other roles. I’ve been on both sides of the table when it comes to public sector partnerships.

Now as I build out EthosLabs as a resource for the growing GovTech industry, a resource to reduce friction, accelerate innovation, and quite simply make everyone’s life a little easier, I’ve taken to jotting down lessons learned from my experiences. In particular, I am trying to sketch out the pain points and workarounds for purchasing and partnerships for governments — as sticky issues such as procurement almost always come up as the barrier for innovation.

A friend of mine was said that was vastly overstated and if you simply knew what you were doing procurement and its cousins — budgeting, bidding, and contracting — were very much solvable problems.

Of course we will be putting that to the test. But first we have to know what works and what doesn’t.

Let’s start there, what doesn’t work.

I’m penning this series of posts with strategies and tactics I’ve noticed that handicap or even kneecap a GovTech salesperson when pitching to government decision-makers.

(It’s “1/n” as I don’t know how many we will end up with, which as also means that I’m eager for your thoughts/experiences as well.

  • Different prices for different cities: Cities talk to each other. Well, city staffers that is. Particularly in highly specialized roles, such as technology leadership (CTOs, CIOs, CDOs, etc), cross-jurisdictional collaboration is essential since many of these posts are new. There’s no playbook — and if there is one, it’s being written by the very people currently in those roles. As someone who has been there, I can attest, you are building the plane while you’re flying it. So again, either for a sounding board or even for a support group, city tech leadership talk. And particularly when it comes to vendor relations, RFPs, contracts, and critically, pricing. And finding out who someone knows is as easy as running a Linkedin search. Do your homework, and be sure you aren’t quoting a price wildly divergent than those you (or your colleagues) gave to your potential client’s peer. They will find out, and feel like they are being played.