Purpose and target audience

Selling to government (also known as the public sector) can be a slow and expensive process. However it doesn’t need to be if buyers and sellers understand the rules of the game and behave sensibly.

My aim in writing this booklet is to provide some simple and easy to use guidance for large and small suppliers on how to sell to government as quickly as possible and minimise their waste of resources on unnecessary activities or abortive bids. Good selling sets a scene for successful engagement and I’d like to think that suppliers following this guidance will help government achieve positive outcomes economically and quickly.

This booklet draws on experience of Information and Communications Technology in the UK public sector, although the same rules and approaches apply in other areas including, for example, business process outsourcing, travel services, construction and the purchase of products such as pharmaceuticals. 

The target audience of this booklet are individuals and organisations with limited knowledge and experience of selling to government; it may also be useful for establishing common processes for teams with varied experience. Public sector buyers might also find it useful for understanding supplier perspectives and processes.

© Peter Buchanan 2009

The author

Photograph of the author, Peter BuchananPeter was a civil servant for over 20 years, and during that time was involved in a range of projects, including running what was then one of the Inland Revenues largest procurements.  In 1994 he joined EDS, a major supplier to government, where he delivered a range of consulting assignments to government, created and ran their eGovernment consultancy practice, and worked on a range of bids, some major, to government.  His main focus is strategy and innovation, expertise in selling was developed to enable him to turn good ideas into deliverable projects.

He has also contributed to initiatives from a range of government and industry bodies including the British Computer Society (BCS), Cabinet Office, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Information Society Alliance (EURIM), and the UK trade association representing the technology industry (Intellect) gaining a wider perspective and deeper involvement in how suppliers sell and the government buys.

With over 30 years varied experience of both buying and selling to government he is ideally placed to write this booklet.

Thanks to

I am very grateful to good friends in my network of contacts, particularly Sheila Beck, Don Brown, James Buchanan, Stephen Darvill, Mel Frewin, Rachel Goldsack, Nick Kalisperas, Ian Morton, Lucie Rostron and Dave Waltho who have helped me improve accuracy and readability.