Department of Homeland Security - Relationships with GSA Schedules Win Business

When I took my first class in mid-2002 called "Selling to the Department of Homeland Security," there were over 70 people in the room drooling for business. We had already attended government seminars with billions of dollars being waved in front of us and a couple of website references. We knew that they were dog and pony shows so that the government felt as if they did "community outreach."

Because we were tired of the "run around" we signed up for the class and were prepared for the truth from Richard White, since he had 40 years of successful contracting experiences.

At the class, Richard White explained that basically, DHS, comprised of 22 existing agencies at the time, simply scrapped off the names of the current agencies and put on the name, DHS. Most of the teams would remain the same and most of the processes would be standard operating procedure...and that included the embedded vendors winning business.

But, DHS would have a group of people in Washington DC to make sure some of their efforts were combined and their security information shared. They opened the TTIC - Terror Threat Information Center - at the CIA to bring a wide range of agents from different agencies together to review and share any of their uncovered information on the internet and other places.

They developed about 450 locations for the TSA-Transportation Security Administration to manage the security teams who look through your bags at the airport. They moved around the teams at Customs, Border Patrol, INS and Coast Guard to manage people and inventory coming in and out of the country.

DHS kept saying at the time they were looking to build a headquarters somewhere in the DC or neighboring area. I wanted some of that business, but I wanted the temporary moves, relocations and projects. My business was focused on uncertainty and growth because it was temporary furniture rental needs.

In the class, Richard White emphasized the key to success in doing business with the government and with DHS:

Relationship, Relationship, Relationship

As he described the 22 agencies involved in DHS, he expressed that he believed the same vendors would be getting the business based on the relationships on the agency level. When it was time for the headquarters to purchase something, they would turn to their agencies and ask for "their favorite GSA vendors." His prediction was exactly right.

Once I realized it was the GSA schedule in hand and the relationship in the back pocket that would build my business, I hit the ground running and started opening doors.

In two months, I was installing furniture to the Department of Homeland Security, developing a relationship with the head of Disaster Logistics at FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency, interviewing the person in charge of renting furniture at TSA-Transportation Security Administration, and uncovering key decision makers at the FBI. Within a year, I had built relationships with over 1,500 potential contracting officers, end users, referring partners and contract bundlers. I was winning business.

The purpose of this little story is that I want to reach out to you and sincerely say that I am on the road every week teaching Winning Government Business because the "game' that is explained in this class on how to do business with the government is the TRUTH.

I could continue to grow my business with the insider secrets taught by Richard White, but I want the personal satisfaction of teaching you the game as well. I want you to be successful at this business because the government needs outstanding products and services which are available at a reasonable price - that's YOU.

So, take an inventory of your past year and see how much government business you have uncovered, closed and delivered. You can double and triple it.

Here are three questions to ask and if you say yes to all three, think about coming to a class and start selling the government in 2005:

  1. I have outstanding products and services which would benefit the government.
  2. I am willing to have one resource in my company be the "beacon" to build my government business.
  3. I have the patience and perseverance to develop key relationships at the government. I understand this might take longer, but it will become a great oak someday.

I just have one more exercise for you. I want you to call one agency, which you believe in your heart needs you. I want you to ask them for help in finding the person who handles making decisions about IT or Human Resources, or Facilities, or Construction, or Vehicle Maintenance, or get the idea.

When you find that person, I want you to engage in a conversation of understanding how they select their vendors and what they look for in great service. "This is only an information call. I just want to understand so that I can build my business in the next few years. I thought I'd start at the top - you." If they can't help you...ask, "If you can't help me, who else at your agency do you believe would be able to answer my basic questions?"

I want you to keep asking until someone actually comes out and says, "No" to you. I bet you'll never hear it and you'll at least close an appointment.

After that, it is up to you to walk through that door and start closing business.

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