Selling to governments can take a notoriously long time. In desperation, many companies succumb to the charms of so-called political consultants, who promise access to top government officials in exchange for a fee or retainer. However, beware of consultants who are tied too closely to politicians in office. Once a government changes after an election, you and the consultant may be ousted along with other politically appointed employees and contractors.

Instead, Mike Davis, CEO of The VINE Co., a Louisville firm that sells automated victim-notification systems to county and state governments, hires salespeople who thrive on long-term sales development. He looks for successful, extremely organized sales managers who are good at staying on top of 40 projects and inching them along through each step necessary to complete each sale. "They know they aren't going to close a deal in the first meeting or come back with a contract in a month, and they are okay with that," notes Davis.

Copyright 1998 G&J USA Publishing