Navigating bureaucratic red tape to win contracts
Recent budget cuts and travel restrictions have negatively affected the ability of government agencies to find and partner with vendors in a variety of ways. For instance, these factors lead to the cancelation of annual outreach events like GSA Expos, meaning contractors have less chance to interact with agency representatives and promote their benefits.
As a result, hopeful contractors must work even harder to enter into such partnerships. If you fall into this category, here's a brief guide detailing how to win government contracts:
The best way to secure a contract is to increase your chances of being noticed by your target agencies. If this is your first time trying to partner with a government organization, Cayenne Consulting suggested subcontracting with a firm that's already done so. Collaborating with other groups reduces your risk, and building positive relationships with these vendors increases your chances of securing a private contract.
Also, be sure to register in the System for Award Management if you haven't done so already. This gives government agencies access to all of the information they need, including the services or product your company offers, the type of business you run, the size of your organization and specific points of contact.
Finally, you should obtain a GSA Schedule. These also boost your chances of securing a contract; according to Federal Schedules, Inc., many agencies only place orders through this program. GSA Schedule Contracts have predetermined prices, warranties and other terms and they comply with all laws and regulations, simplifying the contracting process on behalf of the government.
Know your target contracts
The better you know specific agencies and contracts you want to obtain, the more effectively you can market your business. Make note of your target's selection criteria, key decision makers, anticipated competitors, locations and other factors. D.C.-area PR firm Boscobel Marketing Communications recommended setting up Google Alerts so you can stay up to date on any news about your preferred agencies, their contracts and their decision makers.
In addition, don't be shy about promoting your success stories. If you've successfully partnered with other contractors, feel free to mention these collaborations when relevant. Publish case studies on your company website and share snippets of glowing customer reviews on social media.
Don't forget to position your business as a thought leader. Write articles or white papers with unique takes on recent news or market trends, and publish these pieces on your website or channels like LinkedIn and Medium.
Get certified by a state or national entity
Government agencies love certifications, as they allow them to easily evaluate a business. Decision makers are assured that certified vendors adhere to certain practices, standards or regulations.
Some Small Business Administration certifications are specifically set aside for small businesses, especially those run by specific demographics:
- The Woman Owned Small Business program is for companies controlled primarily by women.
- The 8(a) program is for companies controlled primarily by minorities.
- The HUBZone program is for businesses in economically disadvantaged areas.
- The Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern program is for companies owned mainly by vets wounded during their service.
The process of securing a government contract is filled with bureaucracy and competition. Depending on the agency in question, you may face dozens or even hundreds of other vendors fighting for the same arrangement. To come out on top, you need to have a proven product or service, be skilled at promoting your company and obtain certification or some other recognition that makes a decision-maker's job easier.