So I received a preview copy of the book “Selling to the Government” by Mark Amtower, whose company Amtower & Company has advised hundreds of companies on selling to the government.
I sat down in the winter cold the other day and read the whole book in a couple hours (as I told my girlfriend – yes I’m nerdy).
This book sounds like it would only interest government contractors but I actually think there’s a lot that government employees can learn from it. Personally, as a former fed, I learned a ton on how government contractors think and how the whole process works from the other end.
Here’s my top 8 Tips I learned from the book “Selling to the Government”
1) There’s a reason government procurements often cost more – Sometimes when I was in government, I felt that it was weird that sometimes what we bought was more expensive than I can get on my own. From reading the book, I have a greater understanding of the hugely complex machine that government is. There is a huge cost in terms of time and money in doing business with government – this cost is eventually passed on the government – see acronyms like DUNS number, CCR, ORCA, and more
2) Micro-purchases is huge – You can purchase up to $3,000 on a federal credit card without a contract. In Fy2009, this program, SmartPay, processed over $20 billion in purchases
3) Additional acquisition rules -Simplified acquisition rules apply between $3,000 and $100,000. Purchases under $25,000 do not require posting at Federal Business Opportunities (fbo.gov) but above that amount it does and has a pretty significant process around RFI and RFP.
4) The role of the reseller – Often companies sell through resellers instead of dealing with government directly. In the book, it shows that Apple sold primarily through Falcon, a reseller, for most of 80s and early 90s. A lot of software is sold that way
5) Gift rules – General guidelines is feds can receive gifts under $20 and over $50 for year
,,,you can receive a gift motivated solely by a family or personal friendship (but that seems a fine line)
6) Cool to see that it is “all about people” – Mark gives a couple examples of companies that did really well because of “employee retention” and doing good for their people. Especially since a lot of government contractors are on site with feds, it’s important that they are treated well.
7) There’s ton of small business programs – women owned small business, small disadvantaged business, small disadvantaged business 8(a) certified, historically underutilized business zone, veteran-owner small business, and service-disabled veteran owned small business. I was always a little skeptical about these programs but was good to see that they all have pretty stringent requirements – most require over 50% ownership AND day-to-day management
8) Key groups/magazines – It was cool to see a lot of the associations and magazines that I like mentioned as great places to engage. He’s got a pretty similar list to the GovLoop list of associations and list of magazines/websites
And thanks Mark for shouting-out GovLoop as a great resource to collaborate on government issues.
For gov 2.0 startups, I’d also recommend giving this book a read to get a primer on how to do business with government