Q&A: How to Approach the Systems Integrator Community

Federal, state and local governments could spend more than $200B in 2018 on IT products and services. In the federal market, the Top 10 systems integrators (SI) get 50 percent of the spending. The Top 25 contractors snare nearly 75 percent. Yes, smaller vendors can and do get prime contracts, but the reality is that the bulk of vendors doing business with federal agencies must also partner with the major solution providers. Consequently, the key to success for most vendors is getting powerful systems integrators to make them part of their teams.

But partnering isn’t just a one-way street: Solution providers need vendors too. The current administration’s emphasis on measurable savings and results has contractors scrambling to find vendors who understand how their technologies can plug into the larger solutions and deliver the results sought by government.

But in a government market crowded with vendors—each one claiming to have just the right technology or solution—how do you catch the attention of systems integrators who are committed to your company and its products?

I had a chance to sit down with Scott Lewis, President of PS Partnerships to discuss just this question. In this Influencer Q&A, he shares the best way for tech companies to market to the systems integrator community.

Q: What’s the best way to approach the SI community?

A: Approach systems integrators like you would any potential market. For example, you wouldn’t take a scatter-shot approach to government by trying to sell into every agency. You would first identify which agencies need and are buying your technology. Then you would create a sales and marketing plan to reach those agencies. That’s what you need to do with your potential partners. Identify promising partners either by the solution sets they sell or by the agencies they serve.

Q: What’s the best place to start with a SI marketing strategy?

A: First and foremost, every vendor needs to understand the value they bring to a potential SI and how they can help the SI win new business. Then, at a minimum, create a presentation or other sales materials that will help you connect with solution providers. Does your website answer the questions and have the information they want? That’s the first place potential partners will go to find out about your company.

Q: Not to get too tactical, but what do SIs want to hear in that first meeting?

A: The strategy that I recommend to tech companies is to organize a PowerPoint or initial conversation as follows:

  1. Start with a brief overview of your company and your offerings (but focus on just a few) and any government mandates or requirements that support your offerings.
  2. Your value. Be clear what value you bring to the SI. Is it technological leadership, program expertise, past performance, or a compelling cost savings? This should be the core of your presentation and a chance for you to differentiate your company and position yourself to be included on a SI’s team.
  3. Be upfront about your competition; the SI contracting team will figure it out anyway.
  4. List your Government and SI activities including current and previous SI and/or agency relationships, customers and the names of the programs that you are supporting.
  5. List your pipeline and focus Be prepared to share where you are focusing your sales efforts and what your overall government strategy is.

Remember, it’s not about you. One of the biggest mistakes a vendor can make when meeting with an integrator is expecting the integrator to figure out how the two companies can work together. You should already know that before the meeting. Want to have solution providers chasing you? Show them how you can help them win new business on specific projects with specific government agencies.

Q: Any other advice for B2G marketers?

A: Systems integrators are an important channel for many B2G tech companies. Treat them like you would any other valued customer. Understand their problems. Show them how you can help them achieve their goals. These are the keys not only to surviving, but also to thriving in today’s competitive government market.