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Opportunity Everywhere - Knowing Where to Look for Big Corporate Contracts

 This is a continuation of the series about how to land big corporate clients. Let us review items in the news and talk about opportunity. Let us change the question of “does opportunity exist” to “where should I look for opportunity and how do I identify it”?

That's right – the question is never “is there opportunity?”. It is always an issue of “how do I recognize opportunity? How do I spot it? How do I know if it's something that I should be looking for?”  So, once again, this is about acquiring a mindset and skill set -- becoming a more savvy at spotting opportunities for your business -- or more precisely, building a robust sales pipeline. 

Let’s look at Apple for an example of how to spot opportunity. Recently, Apple announced a $1 billion project for a campus in Austin, Texas. $1 billion is a lot of money, and there will be considerable suppliers that will benefit from this investment in Texas. Now you might say, “well, that's great, but that's not helping me. I can't be a part of that”. Maybe, maybe you can, maybe you can't. If you have the attitude that you can't be a part of it, yeah, you're absolutely right. One of the things I can tell you is Apple is one of the most progressive companies in doing business with small, diverse business owners, so you better bet Apple is looking for suppliers like you if you can come up with a way to show them that you actually can help them. So, this is not an issue of “that cake is already baked”. You do have a chance to get in -- knowing that Apple is actively looking for companies like yours. And oh, by the way, this isn't the only project they have coming in the near future.

Even though there were suppliers that got in line before the project was announced - which quite frankly is a situation you want to be in - there's still opportunity for you on this one. Once you start the conversation with Apple, there's opportunity for you on the next project and the one after that. What I want to flesh out in this case is the strategy of how to get in and how to position yourself and how to be ready before the opportunity comes - which is really and truly what a Business Partner blueprint is all about. It promotes getting your company ready, in anticipation of the opportunity, because the corporate space is not a “Johnny-come-lately” space. A corporate space is not, “we'll come in after, after everything's done”.

The corporate space, when you do it well is you want to be ready for the opportunity before it comes. You do this so you can over-deliver. You do not want to make it up as you go. So, in this case, let's talk a bit more about the myriad, the sheer number of opportunities created in this announcement. You might say, “okay, all right, the project is being done in Austin, so if I'm not in Texas, I can't support this project”. That is not true. There is work that's going to be pulled in from various places. There is architectural and design work. There is  equipment sourcing and parts sourcing. There are going to be people working on this project from different parts of the country. Depending on whom Apple hires to do what, they are going to be bringing people and companies in from around the world.

So no, don't automatically assume that since the project is going to be in Austin, and you're not in Austin, you can't participate. you might say, “Oh, well this is construction and I'm not in construction”. Once again, wrong, I want you to think about what goes in a building. Everything goes in a building. Constructing it - not to mention things that go in the building to operate it - including lawn care, including janitorial products, washrooms, including getting people hired. So if you're in staffing, office equipment, flooring, tiling, if you're in supplies, if you're in HVA, then you can pitch your services. If you're in pretty much anything - if you make sheet rock, if you do steel girders, if you make lightbulbs, if you are into energy efficiency and energy management services, green products, equipment rentals, computers, telemetry and smart devices - there's pretty much an opportunity, even writing down processes and procedures, technical writing, etc... On a $1 billion project, there's a good chance that Apple will need your skills. 

Now your trick is going to be navigating how to figure out where this sourcing is being done. Is it being done by Apple directly? Is it being done by one of their prime contractors or their general contractor? Or is it going to be one of their subcontractors that you're going to have to identify.

There are several ways you can go about identifying this. You can first see if you can go through supplier diversity; you can then see if you can go to supplier diversity for some of the prime suppliers supporting the project, because eventually Apple will announce who are the lead architects. They are going to let you know who the general contractors are and some of the primes, and those people also have a responsibility to make sure that small businesses and diverse businesses are supported. You will have to navigate through that as news releases come out or as you get more detailed information on the project. There will be no end to the various things that they will need - not only to get the building built, but to operate it once is going.

If you start thinking through what you offer -- whether you're offering a product or service; management consulting; product support widgets or whatever -- once you really and truly think through what is the essence of  a $1 billion construction project, you come to realize that construction projects for the most part are
huge spends, huge amounts of money, huge sums that go into initiating a continuous spend. They are going to spend a billion putting this thing in place, but you can best well bet that they additionally will spend hundreds of millions every year to keep it going. Something going on in that location has to pay for that billion dollars, so somehow they're going to have to spend money in order to make the money to recover the cost of building the doggone thing, which means that they're going to need suppliers in there to do that work as well.

They're going to need vendors, they're going to need contractors. They're going to need people providing products and services once it's up and running. Just to think this through, pick a building, pick any building, I don't care what the building is. You can take a corporate office building that you have visited and start thinking through “what do they consume in this business/building”? That is, what are they going to need to consume in Apple's building. Additionally, when you start thinking about constructing it, a lot of the administration, project management and project execution requirements that they need to build it encompass a lot of the exact things that you're offering, so that is huge right now. And Apple is looking for folks to help them. That's the purpose of making the announcement. 

What's the impact to the community? They know what the impact to the Austin community is going to be, but they also understand that if they spend $1 billion, $1 billion easily translates into $4 or $5 billion of economic impact, or more. That is money that is going to go out the door. So, when you read it in the newspaper or when you read that companies are making these types of investments, that is exactly what you want to think through “if I were to try and approach them, where might I plug what we do into this”? Now bear in mind, we previously discussed being smart about the industry sectors that you picked. So, if their technology is not in your identified sector, and you're not in construction, then this may not be where you want to plug in.

There's a learning curve and you're going to have to displace some existing suppliers. So, if this is not where you want to play, that's okay. However, when you read these types of announcements - even if it's a company that is not in your sector; that you’re not currently targeting; that you’re not currently focused on, think  through “what do I really do and where can I vector in? Where can I fit in to figure out what's going on”? Once you crystallize that analysis, that way of thinking, that way of identifying where an opportunity for your company exists in that type of announcement, then for companies in your sector that are building new campuses, that are building new projects, you can now go in and have a better conversation with them about how can you participate in those areas and consequently, drive revenue and growth to your business.

My prediction is that we're going to see capital spend increase over the next few years. So, the better you get at analyzing these types of announcements and understanding how to make these opportunities work for you, the better-positioned your company will be for success. Again, the question is not if the opportunity exists, the question is where should you look and how do you identify the opportunity? You are going to see more places where you actually can drive additional growth. You can create opportunities in your pipeline, and you can actually have a really huge, huge opportunity for your business. 

In future blogs, I am going to further evolve this topic to help you achieve more and more precision around the specific things that you can do. Stay tuned.

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