The team here at Capitol 50 gets asked a lot, “how do I get started in government contracting?”; when we hear this question, we ask a few qualifying questions and normally point them in the direction of our industry partners at Elevare, LLC. The Elevare team specializes in vetting opportunities/pipeline development and strategic partner identification. They also help implement a business development program for developing your federal government market strategy. We decided to sit down with the team at Elevare and ask them some of the questions our team hears quite often and take a look at what they recommend as best practices.
How do I determine who to sell to? Who in the government buys what I am selling?
There are multiple ways to determine who to sell to in the federal government. Conducting this preliminary research, will help you focus on those departments/agencies that are spending the most on what services/products you are offering. It is important to research what the historical spending has been in your service/product area and also determine what is forecast for the upcoming fiscal years. Also, reviewing the department/agency budget plan is a tool to help determine what they are focused on for the upcoming fiscal years.
There are multiple free resources that one can research to determine a department/agency’s historical and forecasted spending. Some of those resources include the following:
- Individual department/agency forecast
- SAM (System for Award Mgmt)
- Attend industry days events held by the different departments/agencies
- Governmentwide Acquisition Contract Dashboards
- Acquisition Gateway
- Federal Spending | U.S. Treasury Fiscal Data
- US Budget published by the White House
- Budget of Congress
How do I find buyer’s contact information?
To obtain the buyer’s contact information, there are several different ways to research this. One way to review the organizational charts that are posted for the departments/agencies. Determine the sub-office you are targeting and begin researching the leads there.
Another potential way to meet buyers is through the contracting officer. Asking the CO if they could set a meeting for you is a great way to get within the buying organization. Connecting with the OSDBU office and small business liaisons is another way to obtain buyer information. Some agencies like HHS have employee directories that make it easier to find contact information: https://directory.psc.gov/employee.htm
We have also found contact information through industry days, webinars, and social media platforms, such as LinkedIn.
What’s the best approach when I contact these buyers?
When contacting a buyer, our best advice is be prepared. Determine beforehand, what you want to discuss. We suggest leading with your capabilities, past performance, and then your certifications. We also recommend having 2-3 specific expiring or forecasted opportunities to discuss. The government wants to know what you can do for them.
It is also beneficial to have reviewed the departments/agency’s budget plans and strategic plan. These are great resources to learn about their priority initiatives.
You can start with an email but the best way to contact buyers is to pick up the phone and call them.
Where do I find opportunities?
We recommend that a healthy pipeline consists of expiring, forecasted, and Pre-RFP opportunities. There are multiple places to locate these opportunities. Some of those ways include:
- Expiring contracts – the use of SAM.gov and USASpending
- Forecasted – the use of the Acquisition Gateway and the individual department and agency forecasts
- Pre-RFP/RFP opportunities – the review of SAM.gov
- Be sure to set your daily searches to make this task more time efficient
- Attending industry days and webinars
How do I find opportunities/sales that are not going out for bid?
To identify opportunities that are not going out for bid, we recommend leveraging your current federal relationships. Within the conversations you are having, and they discussing “needs” or “pain points?”
We also recommend reviewing a department’s/agency’s budget project or summary and the strategic plan. These typically outline their initiatives and pain points.
Have more questions? Reach out to the Elevare Team!
As always, feel free to reach out to Capitol 50 for your contract administration questions.