What is GSA eBuy & Methodically Winning Federal Bids
GSA eBuy was designed to bring ease and versatility to online procurement, for both Agency Buyers and Contractors. GSA eBuy provides both with a user-friendly tool that helps streamline the GSA purchasing process.
What is GSA eBuy?
Using the GSA eBuy system, federal agencies (buyers) may prepare and postRequests for Quotations (RFQs) for specific supplies (products) and services offered under GSA Schedule contracts (https://gsascheduleservices.com/info/what-is-a-gsa-contract/), and Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs).
GSA eBuy delivers RFQs to contract holders (by email), and has an online interface to view the details of each opportunity. These RFQ’s are usually higher dollar complete solutions, and can be products and/or services. The majority of the RFQs are for services.
Agency buyers will post their requirements as a formal Request for Quote, and set a deadline for buyers to submit a proposal. The RFQ will include a statement of work that contains all the details of the solution they are seeking. Only opportunities under your Schedule and SIN will appear in GSA eBuy (so more SINs mean more RFQ’s). Buyers also post Requests for Information (RFI) and sources sought in eBuy to do market research.
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Buyers And Sellers In The Bidding Process
Buyer Posts RFQ > Contractors submit Proposals > Review > Award > Fulfillment
IMPORTANT: Only GSA Contract Holders can view the opportunities posted in the GSA eBuy system. No GSA Contract, no participation in these opportunities!
Using the eBuy system, government buyers may prepare and post Request for Quotes (RFQ’s) for specific products and services. Each RFQ is posted in the eBuy system for a predetermined period of time and is assigned to a GSA Schedule Special Item Number (SIN) category. Once an Agency Buyer posts an RFQ, the information is sent by email to all contractors who have that Schedule and SIN category.
This means that if your Company does not have the SIN Category under the RFQ posted, then you will be unable to view the opportunity.
For GSA Schedules, buyers may notify all sellers listed under a particular SIN category or may choose to notify a specific sub-group. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) specifies that buyers must acquire proposals from no less than three GSA Schedule contractors for orders over $10,000.
The final step: Once an RFQ has closed (deadline has passed), buyers may then evaluate and accept the quotation that represents the best value. Note that this is not always the best price (but it usually is). Buyers may then issue an order to the winning contractor. Also note that GSA eBuy quotations are not visible to other contractors, so only the buyer knows who is bidding and the bottom line quoted prices. It is advisable for Contractors to check the eBuy site each day for RFQ opportunities.
Who Uses GSA eBuy?
All Federal Agencies, and some others, use the eBuy system to post Request for Quotes (RFQs) for GSA Schedule services and supplies. State and local government entities (buyers) use the GSA eBuy system under the Cooperative Purchasing Program and the Disaster Recovery Purchasing Program.
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How to access eBuy – getting into the GSA Schedule Program
Your Company must first apply for a GSA Contract, and be awarded, before you can access GSA eBuy.
After receiving a contract award into the GSA Schedule program, smart contractors will quickly access GSA eBuy. This is where they can locate ab bid on GSA opportunities. GSA eBuy is a website, and you must log in using your GSA Contract number and issued password. Once you are in the eBuy portal, you can search through the opportunities that match your Schedule type and SIN categories.
Some steps must be taken before you can access GSA eBuy. First, you will need to register with the Vendor Support Center (VSC). Next, you must upload your Catalog File and/or Price List to GSA Advantage!
The Winning Process
Getting a GSA Contract, and accessing eBuy can be a major windfall for your company, but it is not easy. You will still need to put in the work to build out processes, and continuously improve them.
Locate – Select the right eBuy opportunities for you.
Engage – Write winning proposals and engage the customer.
Track – Learn how to increase your “winning percentage”
LOCATE GSA eBuy Opportunities
The “Go/No Go” decision is vitally important. So, you must first build out the process to qualify an RFQ. This way, you will manage your time investment efficiently and have a good win percentage from the start. Here are the variables to consider:
- Scope Match – Solution / Products asked for is a good fit
- Location is within your geographic coverage
- Size of the project or order is manageable for you
- Delivery terms are manageable for you
Many GSA Contractors think that the winner is predetermined and preparing & submitting a proposal is often times futile. This can be the case, but it is not the case in most RFQ’s. In fact, often times Agency Buyers struggle to meet the 3-bid requirement.
There are some indicators that a winner is already chosen, however. If a specific brand is named, or a specific training certificate, that may be a clue that an incumbent has a strong-hold on the re-compete. However, this is not always the case. So, be careful to judge a book by it’s cover. Sometimes the End User just knows what they are looking for. Pick up the phone or email them to poke around if it may be a good fit for your company.
ENGAGE with Agency Buyers
The most important parts of engaging with Buyers and Contracting Officers (KO’s) is:
- Reputation and Reliability – Every detail of your Proposal should display these. You cannot have any holes in your narrative, no loose ends.
- Understanding of their requirements – Read their RFQ, then read it 3 more times. If you want to win, then understand their needs intricately, and ask them some good questions to drill down even further. You will build rapport in the process and show them that you are interested in understanding their needs.
- Proficiency in Government speak – Acronyms are just a part of life for a Government Contractor.
Relationships still matter with federal buyers. Picking up the phone or emailing some pointed questions will go a long way. Your winning percentage should see a boost with these extra efforts you are showing.
Another very neglected way to engage with buyers is through your presentation. Your website and proposal materials should be polished, well-branded, and communicate that you are a legitimate Government Contractor.
TRACK your progress
Become a student of the Proposal Writing process. You can never be too good at this. It is easy to write a Proposal, then submit it, then move on to the next Proposal. However, if you are not learning from your mistakes, then you will repeat them forever. So, ask for debriefs on the lost awards. Are your prices too high, was your Technical Brief too vague. Learning why you are losing will lead you towards more wins.
Track your Winning Percentage, and make sure it moves up every year. Talk to your peers to learn what an acceptable Winning Percentage is in your industry. Then work hard and smart to exceed that by 10-20%.