Installment 18: Getting Started in Federal Sales

Outsider Perception: Getting a corporate federal sales initiative started is an administrative and logistical nightmare.

Reality: The process isn't as bad as you may have heard. Lesson: Don't let start-up costs and red tape deter your company from entering the federal market.


We are frequently asked, "What procedures should be followed by small businesses eager to participate in the federal market?" The answer to this question is that a small business should implement an aggressive federal sales program and simultaneously work toward obtaining a GSA Schedule contract. The latter should be of highest priority. A Schedule contract is the only practical way a small business can obtain an approved price list.

What do you do while you are waiting to submit your GSA offer or are waiting for a submitted offer to be evaluated? The offer evaluation process can take three to nine months so you have plenty of time to do other things. We suggest that your company undertake the following steps:

First and foremost, your company should put a federal sales program in place. Instruct your sales staff to concentrate their efforts on selling directly to federal end users. Do this on Day 1. Provided your business qualifies, submit your 8(a) application to the SBA. Acquiring the 8(a) small disadvantaged business certification is essential for qualified businesses. The aforementioned application should be filed within thirty days of instituting your federal sales program.

Contact prime contractors with the goal of working with them as a subcontractor. Use credit card transactions (those under $ 3,000) or purchase-order transactions (under $100,000) to get your foot in the door.

For opportunities which exceed $100,000, inform the federal customer that you are working on your GSA Schedule offer or that it has been submitted and it is in the evaluation stage. Larger deals often take six to twelve months to sell so your GSA Schedule contract could be awarded by the time your company is ready to close the deal. If your Schedule contract hasn't been awarded at the time your customer is ready to seal the deal, knock on the door of the prime contractor serving the agency and use them to help you win the contract.

Even if your organization fits within the parameters of one of the small business preference programs, approach selling to the government as if you didn't have such a status. Sell aggressively and effectively. Then use your preference edge to help close the deal. Get started today. Start making sales calls as soon as possible. It helps if you can find someone to pave the way. The best candidate would be someone, such as a business partner or personal friend, who has a federal customer. Government small business specialists or members of Congress are usually not the best candidates to lend assistance. The government gives the impression that it will pave the way for small businesses. Although federal buyers need to contract with small businesses, they are reluctant to do so if they don't have past experience with those vendors. Although it certainly can't hurt to ask agencies like the Small Business Administration, contracting officers, or even your state senator or congressperson for help, you need to have a realistic view of what assistance might be forthcoming. Furthermore, you cannot rely on them to make sales calls for you. Counting on the government for help can divert you from making critical, direct sales calls. Don't get sidetracked by thinking that others will sell for you.

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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