|I have acquired GSA Contracts for many companies, and I have found that there are two very different categories; those with established federal connections and those without. This blogpost is meant for the latter. A GSA Contract is a powerful tool to surpass the barrier to entry in government contracting, but there is still a good deal of work to be done to start winning federal projects. There are generally three approaches, and you may use all strategies together or only one.|
Finding Government Opportunities
Searching for Projects. With a GSA Contract, you will be found by government purchasers on GSAAdvantage!, and you will be notified of potential purchases through GSA Ebuy. These two exclusive areas are very powerful, and many companies find that they pay for their GSA Contract in the first year just by fulfilling orders, or landing projects, that they really didn’t put any effort into. By being listed in GSAAdvantage! a federal purchaser knows that you meet the guidelines to do business with the government, and they will not have to worry about shady business practices.
Searching on FedBizOpps is still a very helpful option, because the larger projects are usually found there. Since you have a GSA Contract, you will be much more appetizing to a purchasing agent, and they are much more likely to go with your company. FedBizOpps has a great notification system, that will send you a daily email list of all Solicitations within the criteria you set. This can save time, and effort.
Marketing to Prospects. There are hundreds of thousands of government employees. So how do you find the key decision-makers to jump start your federal presence, and put your GSA Contract to good use? There are third-party companies that can provide you with email/address lists, or you can search them out yourself. Every project you offer a quote on, you are meeting a gate-keeper. So keep a list of all the contacts you meet throughout your quoting cycles because you never know when they will need your services again.
Subcontracting Opportunities. Having a GSA Contract opens up many doors to you in the federal subcontracting world, because a GSA prime contractor must use subcontractors with a GSA Contract. Therefore, primes are always searching for partnerships, primarily ones with set-aside firms (8a, disables veteran, woman owned, etc.). You can find the basic contact information for the top prime contractors in your industry by searching through the GSA and SBA websites.
Learning How to Write a Proposal
Capabilities Statement. You don’t need to go out and spend hundreds (or thousands) on brochures, all you need is a simple one-page document outlining the basic information of your company. This should include your contact information, proficiencies, specialties, GSA Number, SIN’s, references, company information, mission statement, and any other information that a purchaser would want or need. Whether a Request for Quote (RFQ) asks for it or not, include your Capabilities Statement with the quote.
Follow Instructions. Government purchasers go to great lengths to include every little detail in an RFQ, so they can be lengthy. If you are going to master the federal proposal game, and avoid banging your head against your desk, you will have to develop a discerning eye. It takes time to complete a quote, and most of the time is spent digging through information, so it is important to develop internal regulations to determine what makes an RFQ worth pursuing, and internal systems to manage the mess of information involved in a quote.
Most RFQ’s include a checklist and a Statement of Work (SOW). The SOW will be the most important part of the RFQ to help you decide if you should pursue it. If you do go forward, follow the checklist and provide every little scrap of information asked for. You want to come off as thorough and capable to the federal buyer. All-in-all, it takes time to master the art of the proposal, but going to workshops and reading whitepapers can greatly help you in the beginning.