A Company can greatly increase government sales opportunities by tapping into the General Services Administration (GSA). By getting onto a GSA schedule, a company can minimize competition and save time. For example, GSA Schedules 84 & 70 let state and local governments buy from GSA contracts, removing competition from other integrators not on the schedule. In addition, pricing is already covered by the schedule, which eliminates having to negotiate every project and task order. A company on the GSA schedule shows federal buyers that the business is truly serious about handling government projects, and a recognition or confirmation in the eyes of potential state, municipal and commercial customers.
What to Do to Get Into This Market
To get on a schedule, there are fees involved and, once listed, a company must maintain a minimal level of business with the government. When bidding on federal contracts, the government agency defines the project, and gives an overall view of what it should entail, usually at a defined budget. The company then needs to design the solution and, working with its contractors, detail how the project will be completed.
Forging tight relationships with manufacturers or subcontractors suited to government applications can be very advantageous for companies. It is not uncommon for the manufacturer — especially those with GSA approval — to be approached directly or otherwise learn of a project opportunity before it is publicly announced.
What Government Customers Want
Like end users in other markets, government customers are looking for turnkey solutions. GSA Contractors can separate themselves from traditional dealers and service providers by offering specialized and complete solutions. Understanding and helping these clients meet compliance requirements is another key element.
Challenges Working in This Sector
The fact that compliance is such an important aspect of government business makes it imperative companies maintain complete and accurate records of everything. After all, no matter how much push there is to simplify or streamline processes, this market will likely always have a certain degree of bureaucracy. Ensure that your company is meeting all compliance requirements, from quoting and bidding with compliant products and making sure the backup paperwork to the bid has the required documentation.
Just as vital as written details are verbal communications. Government organizations can be complex with multiple points of contact, which makes frequent dialogue that spells out everything essential to ensuring clarity for all parties. An additional and substantial consideration associated in engaging in government business is contending with extended timelines. Large projects can stretch out for long periods of time. This means a company needs to have sufficient cash flow to withstand bidding, design, installation, change orders and final walkthrough before receiving final payment for the contract.
The government moves steadily and slowly. The bidding process can go on for three months or more. A company can save time by creating a series of templates that can be saved and then cut and pasted into their proposals. Each bidding proposal will create more templates that can then be stored and available for future proposals.