Category Uncategorized
June 12, 2023

Written by Brad Kraay

In the realm of government contracting, many individuals adopt a nomadic approach, moving from one company to another to “play the role” of a business development (BD) expert. While this may offer short-term exposure and provide some limited opportunities, it can hinder long-term success in winning contracts. Not surprising, there are many drawbacks of constantly playing the role of a BD professional and the importance of cultivating expertise and commitment to achieve sustainable success in government contracting–with time, there are many losers in this scenario.


  1. Superficial Knowledge and Limited Expertise: Jumping from company to company in pursuit of BD opportunities can result in a shallow understanding of the intricacies of government contracting. While these professionals may acquire general knowledge and experience, their expertise always remains limited. In-depth knowledge and expertise play a crucial role in understanding agency requirements, tailoring strategies, and crafting winning proposals. Only by immersing oneself in a specific domain can a BD professional truly excel and increase their chances of winning contracts.
  2. Lack of Continuity and Relationship Building: Winning government contracts often relies on building relationships and establishing trust with key stakeholders. However, constantly switching companies hampers the ability to cultivate and maintain these critical connections. Meaningful relationships take time to develop, and continuity in working with government agencies and industry partners allows for the establishment of a solid reputation and credibility. By continuously playing the role of a BD professional, one may miss out on the long-term benefits that come with building lasting relationships.  I urge caution when the key relationships a BD person brings are based around happy hours or tee times (both play a role, but you get the point…).
  3. Limited Focus and Strategic Vision: Government contracting requires a strategic and focused approach to identify opportunities and align with agency requirements. Constantly shifting between companies can result in a fragmented perspective, lacking a clear strategic vision. BD professionals need time to understand a company’s capabilities, develop targeted strategies, and build a pipeline of opportunities. Without this deep understanding and strategic alignment, the chances of winning high-value contracts decrease significantly. And while the shirt or hat someone wears won’t change the government’s strategy or direction, the 2-year-dance should be a red flag.
  4. Reputation and Credibility Concerns: Frequent movement between companies can raise concerns about an individual’s commitment, reliability, and dedication to long-term partnerships. Government agencies and prime contractors value stability and proven track records when selecting partners for contracts. The perception of being a “job hopper” may undermine the trust and confidence that potential clients place in a BD professional. Building a solid reputation and demonstrating a commitment to long-term success is crucial for establishing credibility in the government contracting industry. I’m surprised by how many business developers land great new opportunities “making more money,” etc, when they’ve not demonstrated their value at previous companies.  Due diligence, spend the time fact finding, and expose them early.
  5. Sustainable Success through Knowledge and Experience: Long-term success in government contracting hinges on developing comprehensive knowledge, industry expertise, and a deep understanding of agency requirements. It requires investing time and effort in honing skills, cultivating relationships, and building a strong network. By immersing oneself in a specific industry or agency, BD professionals can develop a reputation as trusted advisors, positioning themselves and their companies for sustained success in winning contracts.
Every industry day and tradeshow brings them out and they’re not difficult to identify.  Typically they aren’t with the same organization longer than 18-24 months which is a big investment to learn someone isn’t worth their loaded 6-figure salary.  In the federal arena, it’s a longer selling cycle typically, which gives a nice cushion to on-the-surface likeable people who internally commit to this time being different.  It’s a frustrating scene when companies finally recognize they’ve been paying for incompetence and for someone to simply play the role of business development–the role player usually moves on quickly and lands another 2 year stint being overcompensated for the returns his or her effort generates, while the 6-figure investment the previous employer made is chalked up as a loss.
I’d argue that the market is oversaturated with people who have the “required years of experience” directly in federal contracting, but that experience can quickly mask the incompetence that often times exists hand-in-hand.  Ask questions.  Expose the truth early before wasting your money on the wrong people.

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