Search out Federal Bids
You must put forth the time to identify the projects or orders, I encourage using a service along the lines of BidSpeed to automate wherever possible. Go after projects that are expiring and emerging for renewal. It is valid that many RFQ’s these days are already highly determined by one company, and it probably won’t even be worthy of your time to chase those, so consider signs that you are fighting a losing battle and save your time and resources by not going after those projects. Pre-solicitations, and Requests For Information (RFI’s) are terrific approaches to get to a customer beforehand, before they’ve even prepared an RFQ.
Contracting Mechanism: GSA Contract is Usually the Easiest
Developing a contracting mechanism removes so many boundaries for federal consumers. Their job becomes much less complicated when doing business with a GSA Contractor because there’s much less paperwork. It is all about producing the path of least resistance, and acquiring a GSA Schedule for your goods or services will deliver your business a competitive advantage.
Learn From Your Losses
Get a debriefing when you don’t win a contract. This way you will know if you lost as a result of price, or if your proposal didn’t cater to their needs. Either way, you need to know your weak points and strengthen them.
Don’t be Lazy
There is no such thing as a simple and easy path to triumphing federal business. It takes time, money and concentrated learning to launch a contracting mechanism and/or win contracts. You may be approached by many suggesting an effortless way in, but there are many predators. If a firm promises you the world, then that should raise a flag that they are actually providing snake oil.
Concentrate attentively to federal buyers and offer resolutions and value-additions in your proposal. If you are an expert in your field, then it shouldn’t be too tricky to discover solutions to the problems an end-user are struggling to solve. However, if you want to win, try to find dilemmas that they don’t know exist, and solve those as well. The challenge is to try to do this when still offering a highly competitive price.
Offer Competitive Prices, and a Solid Value
It seems apparent, but prices are clearly the most significant part of any proposal you present. Try to construct strategic partnerships with manufacturers and dealers where you get a better discount through GSA Contract orders. This is where your negotiating skills can definitely translate to results as a federal contractor.
Several federal contractors don’t have websites, and In my opinion they lose consequently. I believe that most federal buyers apply the web as their chief means to check out an unbeknown company. Make sure your website has a ‘Government’ component where you offer express information about your government products and services.
Network and Follow-up to Keep Relationships Alive
Strategically select networking events and conferences based on your industry, and attend them consistently. Be friendly with everyone, take their business card, and link with them socially (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). This will maintain the relationship active without a substantial effort on your part.
Just two points:
1) Your comment that “it is valid that any RFQ are highly determined by one company, and it probably won’t even be worthy of your time to chase those…. save your time and resources ….” indicates that you think that government contracts and acquisitions are predetermined prior to award, which is a violation of the FAR, CICA, just to name a few regs, and implies that government employees performing the competition for this work are prejudiced and bias against new businesses. Not true!! and;
2) that “Prices are the most significant part of any proposal you present” is not accurate. 70% of the time, if you look at RFPs / RFQs, the government is looking to get their “best value” (or like I call it, the “best bang for the buck”) and is willing to pay extra for better quality, technical ability and staff key personnel knowledge to perform the work being requested. Proposals should concentrate on what is expected from the government based on the SOW (Section C) of the RFP, meet the Proposal instructions (Section L) and requirements when you write that proposal and more importantly, ensure you include these requirements based on what the government will be looking to evaluate your offering within that proposal, (Section M). You follow these instructions and you may have a chance.
Thanks for your input Angel. I can agree with most of that.
However, on your first point, many small businesses will pour time and resources into a proposal that was drafted to the specifications that only an incumbent contractor could fulfill. The law does say that there should be equality among bidders, and I do think that federal buyers give an honest effort. But, with small businesses with limited resources, it is just wise to scrutinize the bids that they goes after.
And on the second point, I believe the section titled “Value Add” covers the Bang, and the section titled “Offer Competitive Prices, and a Solid Value” covers both the Bang and the Buck. Many of my customers have vented recently that they have had to come down to an uncomfortable price in order to win federal contracts, and with budget cuts, I it does seem that price is becoming more-and-more important.