Business Development

  • Federal Contracting Legal Issues - Handling Gratuities
    Let's say you've developed a working relationship with a federal agency program manager. The agency has purchased your company's products in the past and will likely do so in the future. You're having lunch with this person -- let's call her... read more
  • The Government Acquisition Cycle
    Good salespeople think about buying cycles. They anticipate the dates that they're likely to cash in. And if times are lean now, they plant the seeds for a bountiful crop later. So what's the buying cycle in government procurement? The... read more
  • Contract Bundling
    The number of bundled contracts awarded by federal agencies has reached a 10-year high, hurting small businesses, according to a recent report by the Small Business Administration (SBA). The problem with bundling is that it involves cramming... read more
  • Other Government Transactions
    When people speak of "government contracting" or "doing business with government," there is the tendency (and we’re as guilty of this as anyone) to equate such terms with "government procurement," as if they’re all one and the same. In... read more
  • Environmental and Energy-Efficient Products
    Last week we talked about the importance of "best value" in federal contracting. We emphasized the fact that best value factors are subjective, providing the contracting officer a fair bit of discretion in selecting a winning vendor. One of... read more
  • Best Value
    We've covered a lot in the previous 40 installments of this series, "Doing Business with Government." Yet, despite all the topics, there's one theme that we've emphasized over and over: Selling to government successfully is about building... read more
  • Blanket Purchase Agreements
    A blanket purchase agreement (BPA) is a simplified acquisition method that government agencies use to fill anticipated repetitive needs for supplies or services. Essentially, BPAs are like "charge accounts" set up with trusted suppliers. Both... read more
  • Suspension and Debarment
    Suspension and debarment actions prevent companies and individuals from participating in government contracts, subcontracts, loans, grants and other assistance programs. The effect of federal suspension and debarment is government wide.... read more
  • Freedom of Information Act
    For decades government contractors have used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gather intelligence, including details on competitor contracts and proposals. FOIA generally provides that any person has a right to obtain access to federal... read more
  • Record Retention Requirements for Federal Procurement Laws
    In the wake of Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing and other corporate scandals, corporate requirements and practices are under the microscope. Among the more important issues are those involving record retention. In this installment, we take a close... read more
  • Federal Acquisition of Foreign Supplies and Services
    Throughout this installment series we've tried to unravel some of the tangled rules and conventions of government contracting. There is perhaps no topic, however, that is a better candidate for unraveling than today's. Foreign contracting in... read more
  • Minority-Owned Business Contracting
    In the prior installment, we talked about women-owned business contracting. This week, we discuss the 8(a) Business Development Program and the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification (SDB) Program. Background: The Law The Small Business Act... read more
  • Women-Owned Business Contracting
    Congress has established a 5-percent government-wide goal for awards to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs). Yet year after year, federal agencies fail to meet this goal. In fact, in 2001, the government awarded just 2.5 percent of federal... read more
  • Past Performance
    Federal, state and local governments have engaged in performance-based contracting for a long time. We've witnessed a dramatic upswing, however, in the last few of years, especially at the federal level.Last year the Office of Management and... read more
  • Overall Government Contract Evaluation Process - Past Performances
    In selecting winning vendors, federal, state, and local governments have typically looked at past contract performance information as part of their overall evaluation processes. Simply stated, vendors that have a history of performing well have... read more
  • Teaming for Large Government Contracts
    Government contracts are getting bigger. Requirements that were once performed under, say, six to ten contracts might now be performed under only one. Not surprisingly, teaming is becoming more prevalent, especially among companies offering... read more
  • Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Government Contracts
    Overview of the Process The General Service Administration's Federal Supply Service (FSS) operates the federal supply schedule program. The program leverages the purchasing power of the U.S. government to garner volume discounts for commercial... read more
  • Debriefings and Protests in Government Proposals
    In this installment we discuss the rules regarding debriefings and protests using the federal acquisition regulations as a model. State and local debriefing and protest regulations are similar although in many cases less formal than the federal... read more
  • Oral Presentations for Government Proposals
    When government agency personnel notify you that they would like your company to make an oral presentation, it’s a very good thing. It either means that you submitted a proposal in response to a request for proposal (negotiated procurement) and you... read more
  • Proposal Writing for Government Contracting
    The previous installments we discussed managing and organizing a proposal writing project. This installment provides guidelines and tools for the proposal writing effort itself. Proposal writing is hard, often tedious work because of the intense... read more
  • Managing the Proposal Process
    Proposals are what some might call a "necessary evil" in the government negotiated procurement market. You may have the best product in the world or be the best service organization in your industry, but those things mean little if your proposals... read more
  • Pricing Government Bids
    Pricing your bid correctly (or not) directly affects two fundamentally important areas of your business: (1) whether you win or lose the bid, and (2) whether you gain profit or suffer loss on the contract. Is there anything more important in... read more
  • The Gulf Oil Spill and GSA Schedules
    So you don't have a GSA Schedule and are wondering if a schedule would help you win gulf oil spill contracts. First, which schedule(s) may be used to assist in the cleanup effort? Heavy Use 899 Environmental Services, SIN 899 8 Remediation and... read more
  • Responding to Public Procurements
    In previous installments we discussed how to sell in the publicly-advertised IFB, RFQ, and RFP markets. In this installment we discuss how to respond (prepare a bid) to bid requests. Gathering Bidding Intelligence Information Previous... read more
  • Publicly-Advertised Negotiated Procurements
    The publicly-advertised negotiated procurement market segment is a new world for companies that have not bid on negotiated procurements using requests for proposal (RFP) procedures. Responding to RFPs is unique for several reasons. Proposal... read more
  • Publicly-Advertised RFQ Market Segment
    Requests for Quotes (RFQs) Since the advent of major procurement reform, the federal government and selected state and local governments are now using requests for quotes (RFQs) to buy commercial products and services. The RFQ procedure is a... read more
  • Invitations For Bids
    Publicly-advertised fixed price procurements are made using either a sealed Invitation for Bid (IFB) or a Request for Quote (RFQ). Governments require more formality in these larger procurements because there is more money at stake: they want to be... read more
  • Focus and Commitment Necessary in Doing Business with Government
    Throughout the series we've talked here and there about "focus" and "commitment", a couple of words that are easy to toss around: "You've got to be focused." "You must be committed." But what do we really mean? In this installment, we... read more
  • Small Purchase Government Market Segment
    In this installment we talk about small purchases, defined here as government buys in the $2,500 to $25,000 range. We've touched on this subject in past installments. This time we devote an entire installment to it, and get into a bit more detail.... read more
  • Selling to Government Cardholders
    A number of important changes came out of the federal Procurement Reform Era of the mid 1990s. Perhaps the most significant of these was the emergence of widespread government credit card purchasing. In an effort to reduce red tape and increase... read more
  • Finding Official Buyers
    In the last installment, we discussed how to find end-users, the people in government who'll actually USE your product or service. This time we're going to talk about the official buyers, those folks who are responsible for making formal... read more
  • Selling to the Feds
    Federal end-users, such as human resource program managers, engineers, or facility managers, make most purchasing decisions. As the term implies, the end-user is the person who will actually use the service. Services and complex products and... read more
  • Outsourcing Opportunities - Fair Act & OMB Circular A-76
    Twenty-two agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Treasury Department, and NASA recently announced that over 75,000 jobs are eligible to be performed by private companies under the rules of the Federal Activities... read more
  • Installment 14: Getting a Pre-approved Federal Price List for Your Company
    Outsider Perception: Perception: Doing federal business requires that you jump through bureaucratic hoops. Reality: In order to get a pre-approved federal price list, your company must jump through several hoops. Lesson: Although the process is tedious... read more
  • Installment 13: Pre-approved Government Price Lists
    Outsider Perception: Federal work is awarded only after a lengthy public bid process takes place. Reality: A great deal of federal business is conducted through companies with "pre-approved federal price lists" rather than through the public bid route... read more
  • Installment 12: Selling Directly to Prime Contractors
    Outsider Perception: Selling products and services to a federal prime contractor is easier than selling directly to the federal government. Reality: Selling services and solutions to a prime contractor can be as frustrating as selling directly to... read more
  • Installment 11: Consider Starting as a Subcontractor to a Prime
    Outsider Perception: Most federal business is conducted with direct contracts between the end users and the vendor. Reality: A large amount of federal business is done through commercial subcontracts with federal prime contractors. Lesson:... read more
  • Installment 10: Start with the Credit Card and Quick Buy Markets for Smaller Transactions
    Outsider Perception: Federal purchases are made the same way regardless of the amount of money involved. Reality: The rules regarding credit card purchases and quick buys make it easy to do business in the federal market for transactions of less than... read more
  • Installment 9: Closing a Federal Sale
    Outsider Perception: Federal sales are almost always announced through public bids which are open to all; federal buyers then evaluate vendors' responses and pick the eventual winner. Reality: Federal sales are closed (transacted) in a number of ways... read more
  • Installment 8: Making a Federal Sale
    Outsider Perception: Federal agencies order products and services only from their favored vendors. Reality: People buy -- not agencies -- and favored vendors have to sell to government buyers just as any other company hoping to do business with the... read more
  • Installment 7: Fundamentals of Federal Contracting
    Outsider Perception: In order to participate in the federal market, you must accept the mountains of red tape that come with handling such business. Reality: The red tape is not so onerous that it should scare your business away from participating in... read more
  • Installment 6: Are Federal Bids Wired?
    Outsider Perception: Most federal bids are wired for insiders like Halliburton.. Reality: The term "wired" is too strong a word. Companies which pre-sell federal opportunities are in a favored position. Lesson: Identify federal opportunities early,... read more
  • Installment 5: Competition and Price Sensitivity in the Federal Market
    Outsider Perception: The federal market is open and competitive. Reality: Competition does take place but, for most transactions, it is limited so that purchases can be made quickly and at reasonable costs to the taxpayer. Lesson: Learn how purchases... read more
  • Installment 4: Become an Insider in the Federal Market
    Outsider Perception: The federal market is dominated by insiders. Reality: A large portion of the federal pie is given to insiders who know how to play the federal sales game. Lesson: Become an insider by selling in your own backyard with an aggressive... read more
  • 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". Background: The size of the... read more
  • Installment 2: Make the Biggest Customer Your Own
    Outsider Perception: The federal market is enormous. Reality: The market is much bigger than you think. In order to enter the market, your sales staff should tackle the federal market as they would any new customer in the commercial setting. Lesson:... read more
  • Installment 1: The Best Offense is a Good Defense
    "Cracking the $420 Billion Federal Market: The Small Business Guide to Federal Sales" Installment 1: The Best Offense is a Good Defense Outsider Perception: The market is impenetrable. Reality: Entering the federal market is no different than... read more
  • Locating Those Who Make Purchasing Decisions
    To the surprise of many, purchasing decisions are made the same in both the federal and commercial markets. In the commercial sector, end users generally decide on the product or service that best meets their needs. Those in administrative... read more
  • Small Businesses: Guidelines for Companies New to the Federal Market
    ... read more
  • Message to CEOs: You Compete Against Yourself in the Federal Market
    ... read more