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General Dynamics' Hall acknowledged that the first engagement is the hardest one. It's a Catch-22 situation because integrators have to learn to trust you to work with you, but they can't trust you if they haven't worked with you either.
"You have to find a reason to make sure you're on our team. Usually, you have a footprint where we want to have one, or you have a unique product or service and have a great execution reputation," he said.
CACI's Dansey identifies four levels of client engagement: target, which means going to see a client that doesn’t know you; tentative, which refers to when a client is aware of you but you’ve not worked together; transactional, used to describe clients with whom you’ve occasionally worked; and trusted, which refers to when the client comes to you for work.
"[Trusted] is where I'm looking for from the small business [VAR] community. If I add you to the team, I want you in the top category," he said.
The systems integrators executives agreed that VARs looking to leverage them to expand their government business should figure out what you do that no one else can do and do the best at that.