Local governments plan, spend, and renew their budgets over the course of 12 months. In this blog post, we’ll discuss how aligning your company’s sales and marketing activities with these fiscal milestones can pay off big time because prospects are open to different messages at different times.
Pop quiz. In what month do most local governments end their fiscal year? If you guessed December, you’d be right, with 50% of organizations ending their fiscal year on 12/31. The other 50% of local governments spread their year ends across the remaining 11 months.
That means you’ll want to time your outreach by subtracting time from the month of the local government’s fiscal year end. So, for example, if you want to make it into the budget for Fort Collins, CO, whose fiscal year ends in December, you’ll want to begin your outreach six months earlier in June.
Making It into the Budget
Timing = Fiscal Year End – 6 Months
Ensuring that your product or service makes it into the local government budget is more critical than ever. Increasingly, counties, municipalities, and townships take a “performance management” approach to running the show and have fewer discretionary funds.
So what do we mean by “performance management”? According to the ICMA, performance management “includes identifying, collecting, analyzing, and reporting on indicators that show how well the organization performs, both internally and in the delivery of services to the public, and how that performance compares with its targets or with peer organizations. More importantly, as a management tool, performance data is intended not as an end result, but rather as a means to more informed decision making and a more engaged community.”
This approach involves deciding what the local government wants to achieve, outlining initiatives to get there, and developing a set of key performance indicators to measure progress throughout the year. This planning is documented in a local government’s “strategic plan.”
This means that your product or service needs to tie in with the funds assigned to a strategic initiative. For many local governments, if a purchase doesn’t support a strategic initiative, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to get funds approved.
Riding the Budget Burn
Timing= Fiscal Year End – 2-4 Months
Many local governments take a use-it-or-lose-it approach to unspent funds. This can work to your advantage. For example, if a department budgeted for an initiative that didn’t happen, there could be pressure to use the remaining funds before year end. Stuff happens (like a pandemic), and if you’ve kept in touch with your prospects, and continued to add value, a dead agreement may come back to life.
The local government department will know about 2-4 months ahead of time if this is the case. That’s why it pays to know what project you lost out to and to check in periodically to see how things are progressing. You should also keep emailing over valuable content (not salesy or feature-centric brochureware) that will help your prospects. Show that you genuinely care about your contacts and their success.
From there, use your CRM to track lost opportunities, along with their fiscal year end month, and set up automated workflows to remind you to check-in while there’s still time to act. By establishing the groundwork for a deal, a sale may yet come to pass with some consistent follow-up.
Picking a Partner
Timing= Fiscal Year End + 1 Month
A local government may have shopped around for pricing and earmarked funding but still not have chosen a company to work with yet. You’ll want to develop an up-to-date prospect list with account and contact information for relevant decision-makers segmented by fiscal year-end. Remember to include influencers because local government purchasing is a team sport.
From there, develop email campaigns that speak to the problem your solution solves for the decision-makers and influencers you’re targeting. On calls, ask if this is a challenge they’re tackling in the new fiscal year. Avoid blasting out the same message to everyone. Specificity wins here.
As you can see, rallying sales and marketing activity around fiscal year end will increase your relevance (and leads) by getting the right messages in front of the right contact at the right time. Help sales and marketing to work together to map out the next 12 months and coordinate their activities.
Helping You Prospect Local Governments with Confidence
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