Business Development

  • Mastering the Foreign Language Known as the GSA Schedules
    Small businesses new to federal contracting almost always find General Services Administration (GSA) schedules mysterious and confusing. Some are perplexed by the nebulous concept of entering into a contract with the federal government before a... read more
  • Proposed Small Business Rule Changes
    Small businesses are being squeezed out of the federal market due to contract bundling and an ever-increasing interest on the part of large businesses to enter into the market. In an effort to forestall this trend, there is currently legislation... read more
  • Picking the Low-Hanging Fruit - Federal Sales
    During the boom, venture capitalists turned up their noses at companies doing federal business. A true sign of the changing times is that the venture capitalists and companies with whom they do business are now focusing on Washington, DC... read more
  • Entry by Small Businesses into the Federal Market
    Small businesses often have a limited sales budget. For those located outside the Washington metropolitan area, selling inside the Beltway is too expensive and the competition too intense -- even if the sales dollars are available. As we have... read more
  • Think Twice Before Chasing Dollars from New Federal Programs
    Newly emerging federal programs, which seem to be materializing with increasing frequency, include: The War on Terrorism (primarily located within the US Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense) The Reconstruction of Iraq... read more
  • Loss Avoidance as a Sales Tactic
    Companies hoping to land large federal sales opportunities quickly discover that bids offered under a public, Request for Proposal (RFP) are often expensive prospects to bid upon. Losing can be quite costly - both in terms of a bidder's real,... read more
  • Sell and Then Write Defensively to Win Government Contracts
    Last week's installment discussed the necessity of pre-selling a sales opportunity before it appears as a public bid. This installment assumes that you have aggressively pre-sold an opportunity, you have identified the customer's needs and his... read more
  • The Guidelines for Winning Public Bids
    The success of the General Services Administration (GSA) schedule program and the increased reliance by federal agencies on other Indefinite Quantity Indefinite Duration (IDIQ) contracts have reduced the number of public Requests for Proposals... read more
  • The Reality of Direct Sales to Government
    In our monthly federal sales seminars, some attendees openly rebel against the suggestion that they should be making direct sales calls. Those disbelievers say to the speaker, "there must be a better way." The reality is that there is not a... read more
  • Starting Out the New Year with Government Contracts
    Like many companies, you would undoubtedly like to add federal government revenues to your 2014 commercial sales. It is the time of year for the proverbial resolutions; we would therefore suggest the following if you are new to the federal market.... read more
  • The Holiday Season and its Effect on Federal Sales
    Making new sales to the federal government during the holiday season can be problematic at best. Many federal buyers take leave during this time so it is therefore difficult, if not impossible, to make sales calls to new buyers. Since most agencies... read more
  • Doing Business with Prime Contractors
    We are frequently asked by small or medium-sized businesses whether they should attempt to sell directly to federal end users or sell to prime contractors through subcontracts. Our recommendation is that companies should do both (with an emphasis... read more
  • Federal Sales Require Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance
    Companies new to the federal market typically do not understand the lead times required to make a federal sale. Company management will typically say to its sales staff something such as, "Let's go to DC and pick some of that low-hanging fruit... read more
  • Using the GSA Schedule Program to Develop Your Multiple
    A frequent reader of our installment series has no doubt surmised that we highly recommend getting on the GSA schedule as a potentially lucrative sales vehicle. As previously discussed, the GSA Schedule program is a useful sales tool for any sized... read more
  • The Use of Letters of Supply for Sales to a GSA Schedule Holder
    For a variety of reasons further explained below, product vendors may choose to become suppliers to another company that holds a General Services Administration (GSA) schedule contract. In such cases, GSA requires that the GSA schedule holder (also... read more
  • Use of GSA Schedules for Selling Products under Participating Dealer Agreements
    You may recall that last week's installment discussed selling directly to the federal government through GSA schedules. Although many have great success selling their products in the foregoing manner, the GSA schedule program is designed to... read more
  • 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... read more
  • Selling Products Directly Using GSA Schedules
    Expensive and complex (for example, technology-based) products are ideal items to sell directly to the federal government. In fact, use your own sales force to make such sales. Although dealers and distributors work well for certain types of... read more
  • 2005 New Year's Resolution - Make Six More Sales Calls A Day
    On average, it takes six "impressions" - cold calls, messages, letters and emails -- to get an appointment out of one lead. So I would like to set a daily challenge for each of us in 2005 - make six more sales calls between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. every day... read more
  • Modify Your Business Development Strategy as Your Company Grows
    Business development is a difficult task for companies new to the federal market. This is particularly true for a company with no federal experience or contacts. Many companies and salespersons, in their first attempts to develop federal business,... read more
  • People and the Federal Sales Process
    As we have mentioned repeatedly in this series, people drive the federal sales process. The very lowest level in the proverbial food chain is you (the commission-hungry, federal salesperson and your revenue-starved boss). Your goals and... read more
  • Her First Day "On the Sales Firing Line" - Eileen Kent Goes to Washington
    On my very first day alone selling to the government in Washington, DC, I took a Metro Train to the L’Enfant Plaza stop. I was on a mission on behalf of my company to get business from the federal government with absolutely no plan, directions or... read more
  • Put Up Your Guard to Keep Your Sales Costs Down
    Sales people are inherently optimistic by nature and often make assumptions that are imprudent. An overeager salesperson can cause costly losses and overworked sales opportunities. One must recognize that staying upbeat is important but the... read more
  • Use of GSA Schedules for Selling Services
    GSA schedules are very powerful tools for selling services. In recently adding services to the list of available GSA schedules, the federal government recognized the reality of how services are purchased. Labor rates in the commercial marketplace... read more
  • GSA Schedules and the Prime Contractor Market
    As dictated by federal law, prime contractors subcontract over twenty percent (20%) of their business. Billions of dollars of subcontracted products and services are bought annually in this market (e.g., lumber and paint for a military base... read more
  • The Over $25,000 Public Bid Market
    Although public bids are being used less frequently, the over-$25,000 public bid market is still large and important. Annual expenditures in this market average $30-35 billion. The market will never dry up because the public bid is both the core of... read more
  • GSA Schedules and the Over $25,000 Market
    The over $25,000 market used to be thought of as the "public market", but GSA Schedules have changed that. Now buyers think of the public market as a place to be avoided. Why? Excessive time and work requirements are involved in a public bid and,... read more
  • GSA Schedules and the $2,500-$25,000 Small Purchase Market
    The $2,500-$25,000 small purchase market is large and important from a volume of transaction viewpoint. In this market buyers make the bulk of the basic purchases required to operate federal programs. Buys made in this dollar range do not require... read more
  • GSA Schedules and the Under $2,500 Micro Purchase
    About 600,000 federal credit card holders spend $15-$20 billion annually. This federal market is like the commercial market in nearly every respect. Credit card holders make purchases to operate federal programs on a day-to-day basis -- e.g.,... read more
  • GSA Schedule Return on Investment
    The cost to obtain a GSA Schedule can range from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on the type and number of products/services involved. The cost is generally commensurate with the size of the company. Roughly speaking, given the value of management... read more
  • GSA Schedules from the Vendor's Viewpoint
    Imagine that you have been doing some aggressive selling at a military base near you. The end-user thinks you're the answer to his prayers and wants to get you onboard quickly to solve a major program problem. You want the buy to happen ASAP,... read more
  • GSA Schedules from the Viewpoint of the Buyer
    Imagine that you’re an overworked official federal buyer, and an end-user requests your services in making a buy. The end-user has identified a vendor that meets his needs, has the budget dollars to make the buy, and wants the vendor onboard in a... read more
  • Small Businesses and GSA Schedules
    Our small business readers frequently inquire, "Can a small business obtain a General Service Administration (GSA) schedule and what would cause us to be turned down by GSA?" Small businesses considering the federal market tend to think that GSA... read more
  • Government Subcontracting Opportunity Sources
    Finding subcontracting opportunities is a difficult process for companies without existing prime contractor relationships. In a previous installment we pointed out that: You need to sell the prime contractor at about the same time the prime is... read more
  • Federal Proposals and Debriefings
    Used judiciously, proposals and debriefings can be a source of sales opportunity information. On rare occasions you may want to consider writing a proposal (response to a Request for Proposal) or submit a quote (response to a request for quote)... read more
  • GSA Schedule Teaming
    The General Services Administration (GSA) has become a sales and marketing machine. The thrust of its pitch is that the agency makes things "easy" for everyone,especially government buyers and end-users. As one GSA web page puts it, "Federal... read more
  • Government Programs That Can Assist in Business Development
    The fundamental goal of federal business development is to find federal employees who may be interested in buying your product/service. You must first locate the individual and his or her latest contact information, determine what the person's job... read more
  • Government Contract Awards Data
    Contract awards data is the most misunderstood source for business development. It comes from two vastly different sources. Plus, it's sometimes inaccurate, and often untimely and incomplete. Yet in spite of these drawbacks it can be extremely... read more
  • Public Bids as a Source For Bussiness Development Information
    Does this sound familiar? "I do not have time to look at the public bids at FedBizOpps every day because we seldom respond to them unless we have ‘pre-sold’ the opportunity." Pre-selling is important, yes, critical in fact (we preach it all the... read more
  • Managing Government Contract Costs
    Managing government contract costs, in the strictest sense, means meeting the federal government's published cost accounting standards. In short, this means having a cost accounting system that will track all costs, for any government contract, in... read more
  • Business Development -- Start with the Internet, is a search engine that organizes and centralizes federal agency information. It searches over 30 million web pages. It takes some rudimentary experience in web searching to use it properly. If you get frustrated using it, keep this... read more
  • Business Development - The Key To Federal Sales
    In an earlier installment we said that you will chase your tail if you lack a laser-like focus in the federal market. Business development is the process used to identify potential buyers (end-users and official buyers) for your product or service.... read more
  • Making the Sales Call to Federal Government Agency
    Companies new to the market ask us, "How do I find potential buyers to call on." Finding potential buyers can be difficult and will be the subject of the next several installments in this series. This installment assumes that you've identified... read more
  • Commitment and Focus in Federal Contracting
    In the last installment you learned about some of the realities of federal sales. In this installment you will learn about the need for commitment and focus to overcome the inherent barriers to entry. First, you must commitment to the market.... read more
  • The Realities of the Federal Market
    Let’s say you’re a medium-sized information technology company from a Midwestern city and your commercial sales are flat. What about that big, scary market called the federal government? Hasn’t 9/11 and the recent war created an insatiable demand... read more
  • Commercial Gaining, Milspecs Waning
    Ever hear about that 25-page military specification for chocolate chip cookies? It described more detail than you can imagine about what the cookie had to taste like, look like, etc. It contained such commands as "diameter at its greatest... read more
  • Procurement Changes Related to Homeland Security
    We just wanted to bring you up-to-date on some recent and important changes in federal procurement law, changes that may directly affect your business. Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 2001-12, published in late January, sets up an interim rule... read more
  • OMB Circular A-76 Changes
    In a previous installment we talked at some length about contractor outsourcing opportunities that arise out of the FAIR Act and OMB Circular A-76. A number of folks attending our seminars seem interested in this subject, so we thought we'd... read more
  • Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program
    Congress established the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program in 1982 to develop new technologies through the efforts of U.S.-owned small businesses. The SBIR program has exploded since its debut in 1983. Back in that first year, in... read more
  • Update on Contract Bundling
    Recently, the Bush administration released new reporting requirements and proposed regulatory changes designed to curb the practice of bundling. As we discussed in Installment 44, bundling is defined as the "consolidation of two or more... read more