Installment 3: Market Research in the Federal Sector

Outsider Perception: The federal government keeps detailed statistics on what it purchases.

Reality: The tracking of federal spending is marginal at best.

Lesson: Do what you can and then apply your "street smarts".


The size of the federal market is not a particularly meaningful number if only a tiny slice of the market is really available to your company. A janitorial services company in the Chicago area has a limited geographic area in which it can realistically deliver its services. The key questions for this type of company are "Are there federal offices or installations in our locale and do these entities need our services?" Once the foregoing question is addressed, the next question becomes "How much of the available work is currently held by incumbent contractors and how much of it is new work?" By doing research, your company should be able to target the sources and amount of work available to local vendors. Once the analysis is completed, your business should have a list of federal customers it wants to pursue.

A company selling office supplies has a different set of questions to answer because office supplies can be sold by telephone to virtually any federal customer regardless of his or her location. The critical unanswered questions are:

  • Where should our efforts be focused when attempting to sell to a federal customer?
  • When and how does price enter into the picture?
  • What importance does the customer place on service?
  • How difficult is it to replace an entrenched office supply company and how can it be done?

Now we are in the world of what we call "street smarts". Your sales staff will most likely have to get on the telephone to answer these questions. You could test the market by making small sales to federal buyers who use their government credit cards to transact the sales. In the long run, your business will most likely need a pre-approved federal price list in order to compete (such price lists will be discussed in greater detail later).

The federal government's product and service coding system is not detailed enough to make research by product type very meaningful although some raw data is available in the following public contract award databases.

Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act (FFATA) Database:

Federal Contracts Database:

Installment Series:

Installment 1: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
Installment 2: Make the World's Biggest Customer Your Own
Installment 3: Market Research in the Federal Sector
Installment 4: Become an Insider in the Federal Market
Installment 5: Competition and Price Sensitivity in the Federal Market
Installment 6: Are Federal Bids Wired?
Installment 7: Fundamentals of Federal Contracting
Installment 8: Making a Federal Sale
Installment 9: Closing a Federal Sale
Installment 10: Start with the Credit Card and Quick Buy Markets for Smaller Transactions
Installment 11: Consider Starting as a Subcontractor to a Prime
Installment 12: Selling Directly to Prime Contractors
Installment 13: Pre-approved Government Price Lists
Installment 14: Getting a Pre-approved Federal Price List for Your Company
Installment 15: Small Business Preference Programs
Installment 16: Distinguishing Messages Win in the Federal Market
Installment 17: Selling to Federal Agencies Located in Your Backyard
Installment 18: Getting Started in Federal Sales
Installment 19: Don't Get Caught Up in Red Tape
Installment 20: Steps to Take After Winning Your First Federal Contract 
Installment 21: Learn How to Write Federal Proposals
Installment 22: Prosper in the Federal Market

Fedmarket has been helping companies win government business since 1995. We have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other trade publications. Our customer testimonials speak to our competence and expertise in helping customers win federal business. We have been singled out by public and private organizations -- including the Small Business Administration and federally-funded Procurement Technical Assistance Centers -- as the most comprehensive government contracting resource in the industry. Our web site's free content includes informative newsletters on GSA Schedules, Proposal Writing and Federal Business Development.

Visit Fedmarket
For inquiries, call 888 661 4094. Press 2.

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