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. Everyone is heard about the need for commitment to any endeavor to be successful. Your mother probably told you about commitment and its importance in life. But what does commitment mean in the context of the federal market.

First, letís consider attitudes that indicate a LACK of commitment:

  • Letís go after the "low hanging fruit." It should be relatively easy since we are the best and our product is the answer to government agency prayers.
  • my boss says that I should get us into the government market on top of my full time commercial sales responsibilities. Sniff around, see whatís out there, find some business.

First and foremost, the owner of a company must understand what he/she is getting into and what it takes to win federal business. The owner also must step up and spend the necessary resources.

The "flavor" of your commitment generally depends on company size. For a small company it may just mean management attention and an investment in a quality salesperson. For a large commercial company new to the government market, it probably means investing in a GSA Schedule, along with a staff of experienced government sales and business development personnel.

In short, company management must commit mentally, emotionally, and be willing to spend dollars commensurate with company size. (Company management might even try making a sales call or two.)

You have made the commitment, now what? You will spin your wheels without business development focus. You must find a select group of decision- makers who are ready, willing and able to buy what you sell. The market is too immense to do be anything but focused.

Focus your sales efforts on one to ten agencies, depending on company size. Use as focusing mechanisms business development products available at Fedmarket.com or do your own Internet research to identify agencies in your geographic, or agencies whose mission/programs match up with your product/service (more about business development a later installment).

Make personal sales calls to the potential decision-makers identified through research -- first by telephone and then in person when the size of the sale warrants a personal call.

Sell one or more agencies, perform, strengthen the trust relationship and nurture the select customers into large customers.

A GSA Schedule (government-wide multiple award schedule contract) is a vehicle allowing decision-makers and official contracting people to acquire your products or services quickly with a minimum of paperwork and red tape.

Any company selling in the over $25,000 federal market must have a GSA schedule if itís serious about the market. Itís not something that should be put off for too long; the process from proposal preparation to award can take three months to a year.

Why is a GSA Schedule so important?

  • It is practically the only "contracting vehicle" available to small businesses.
  • Schedules have become the purchasing vehicle of choice for federal buyers.
  • Information Technology (IT 70) schedule has been made available for state and local use as a result of recent legislation

What do you do while your GSA Schedule is pending?

  • Sell subcontracts to prime contractors (both to prime contractors directly and indirectly to the government).
  • Sell in the small purchase market, using federal credit cards and purchase orders as the contracting vehicles.
  • Begin selling the long lead time opportunities that will later become public procurements.

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