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5 Tips for the Last 60 Days

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.

This is it folks, this is what we have been preparing for! If you have been doing your job developing relationships, now is the time to really capitalize on your hard work! If you haven’t been aligning yourself with buyers since October…

Tip 1 – Tap your top 100

If you have been effectively assembling information and contacting your primary targets, now is the time to ask them if there is a last-minute project coming down the pike. Don’t be pushy, but certainly let them know that you are ready, willing and able to respond on a quick turn project.

Tip2 – Be Brief

Federal procurement gets crazy busy this time of year. Make sure you do your best to align yourself with their issues as they approach year-end. Identify with their difficulty job and responsibilities and keep the conversations as short as possible. Even with this pressure, they like to talk about what is important to them and you can continue your relationship development even through September.

Tip 3 – Offer to Help

Let them know that you can turn around the paperwork for them and even provide them with standard forms already completed so all they have to do is cut and paste. Believe me, something this simple can go a long way to cementing a relationship with buyers whose bosses are breathing down their neck to deliver.

Tip 4 – Don’t Be Bashful

With all of the projects flying around the next several weeks procurement will be in overdrive so ask for the business, ask for suggestions and ask for referrals to others who might have projects.

Tip 5 – First Choice for Second Place

You might not have the level of relationship to be at the front of the line for a project just yet but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them and still win something small. Let them know that you are “qualified” to be on the “shortlist” and you will do whatever you need to do to knock their socks off. Let them know that you will even provide a “number” so they can buy from their favorite vendor (crazy right?). This shows them that you understand their world, you are willing to help them get what they need.

3 Reasons September Rocks!

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.

Getting set-up for September right now is critical to your success.  You can’t wait until August either because buyers start to disappear because the workload increases 50%.  By September, the workload increases 200% and they are totally slammed.  What happens when they get slammed?  The companies that they know get preferential treatment…

1) Shorter Timelines for Bid Response. In the final weeks of September it is not uncommon to see 3 day, 2 day and even 24 hour response time on opportunities. We had one a few years back that was released on Sunday morning at 11am and due in 24 hours for $188k. We helped with the SOW and since the response was due by 11am Monday morning, the competition had no chance.

2) Thinning the Competition. When the rubber hits the road, CO’s look for a primary supplier and then send the solicitation to at least 3 vendors. Now, one is the primary who is most likely to win because they already know about the opportunity (see #1). How does this work? Well, if you have been doing your relationship building you have been working on several projects for the past several months and you have influence within the agency. This doesn’t just apply to incumbents either. That is why September is the BEST month for newcomers and growing your federal footprint if you are already a successful contractor.

3) Funky NAICS. Procurement determines how the opportunity will be released and they can choose how it will be posted. Most companies monitor a few NAICS that make the most sense for them. When September comes, CO’s often choose a strange NAICS so only a few (or one) vendor(s) are even aware it is out there. So, make sure you are watching for those hidden opportunities, some of them are really sweet and most of them never get seen by the competition.

Do buyers know who you are?  Tuesday 7/10 at 11AM EST we will be discussing what happens in September and what you can do about it. Register here:

Mythbuster: 3 Federal Blow-Offs

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.

There are three major issues that I work with everyday to help break into the federal space.  The first, “I don’t know who to call”. That we solve with Market Essentials.  Second, “I can’t get through”. That we help with our Business Development services.  Third, “they tell me…”

  • We list everything on FBO.

BUSTED. Every year somewhere around 4.5 million contracts are executed and only about 130,000 “opportunities” actually hit FBO.  Where are the rest?

  1. Micro-purchases (Less than $3,500) never hit FBO.
  2. CO’s are only required to list opportunities that are budgeted for greater than $25k.
  3. GSA does not require listing on FBO (they use GSA eBuy)
  4. IDIQ task orders are not listed on FBO
  5. BPA calls are not listed on FBO
  6. Minimally competed or “Short Listed” opportunities often don’t hit FBO

Want to find some of these opportunities? isiFederal can help! Call 888-9-GET-isi.

  • We don’t maintain our own vendor database.

BUSTED.  If you are not “preferred” you get sent to FBO.  Most of what they buy comes from less than 5 companies within a specific industry.  They don’t need a database because they know the people who will be responding already and unless you are one of them, you get sent to FBO.

  • We don’t meet with vendors.

BUSTED.  They absolutely meet with vendors, they don’t meet with vendor just because you ask. Think about it, do you meet with everyone that asks?  Of course not. You need to have a good reason to meet with people and that is usually because they made a connection that piqued your interest.  If you are having problems getting meetings it is probably because you need to adjust your approach so you resonate quickly with your target audience. Join us this coming Tuesday and see how we pique the interest of contracting officers and how you can too!

These are typical and intentional blow-offs to weed out the riff-raff from the real qualified companies with dedicated people who really want to do federal business.  Many buyers want to make sure you are in it for the long haul.  They already have resources to buy from so you need to make sure they know you are serious and you understand what they need.  What they are really saying is “Get Serious or Stay Out”.  Are you serious?  Are you ready?  Join us this coming Tuesday and see if you have what it takes to make it in the federal market.

Under the Radar Contracts

in Business Development by Aisha H.

According to Federal Procurement Data Systems (FPDS) from April 1, 2017 to April 1, 2018, 4,245,488 contracts were executed for $432,910,499,036.17. Only 81,783 solicitations hit FBO – that is 1.9% of all actions and GSA at around $30B represents 7.1% – Where are the rest?

Yes, many contract actions are part of IDIQs and BPAs (which only contract holders can see) but that isn’t all…

Did you know…

  • Most federal contracts (around 80%) have less than 5 competitors?
  • Federal buyers have ways to “choose” the company “they” want?
  • The RFP process is intentionally exclusionary?
  • Incumbents get preferential treatment?
  • Most RFP’s have your competitor’s language “baked” in?


The fact is
:

Federal decision-makers already have resources that are selling them the same products or services that you want to sell them.  Just because you show up doesn’t mean that you should win. Just because you’re an 8(a) Woman owned HUBZone certified service disabled veteran that shows up on their doorstep… Doesn’t mean you’re going to be let into the inner circle of short-listed, preferred vendors.

Your 2018 federal strategy needs to revolve around answering why they should let you in. And it can’t be your set-aside status – there are THOUSANDS of companies just like you.

Answering the Why…

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.

Why should federal decision-makers stop using someone they know and start using you?

The fact is Federal decision-makers already have resources that are selling them the same products or services that you want to sell them.  Just because you show up doesn’t mean that you should win. Just because you’re an 8(a), Woman owned, HUBzone, certified Service Disabled Veteran that shows up on their doorstep… Doesn’t mean you’re going to be let into the inner circle of shortlisted, preferred vendors.

There are thousands of companies just like yours and successful federal contractors answer the why question is by clearly differentiate themselves from the competition. Three very effective ways that we used to differentiate our clients from the competition are:

govbrief_logoGovBrief Federal Briefings

GovBrief is an educationally based platform that places you front and center of federal buyers as the subject matter expert in your field. The urgency of being at a briefing at a specific time drives the attention to your message. The process of reaching out to key decision-makers inviting them, then personally inviting them and sending recap information is what positions you to be remembered. The proactive pursuit of calling your strategic targets get you the face-to-face meetings that you need to start letting them know why you should be included in the short list of preferred vendors.  This process works like no other and will deliver face-to-face and phone meetings where you can talk to key decision-makers and position your company against the competitors that they are buying from right now.

introductions

Personal Introductions & Follow-up

Using isiFederal Market Essentials the isiFederal team can provide you with a personal introduction to the top two buyers at each location in your footprint.  This 3-phase, laser focused marketing campaign:

  • Makes the introduction.
  • Responds for you.
  • Contacts them by email and/or phone to schedule a face to face or phone meeting.

Targeting 250-700 contacts, we expect dialog and meetings with at least 10% of the contacts within 90 days.  That is at least 25 meetings with buyers in your space with budget that they will spend by September 30th.

White Paper Marketing

WHITEPAPERisiFederal provides and unique tactic for our clients where we talk to key decision-makers to get their insight on white papers that we plan to submit to leadership councils. This tactic has proven to be very effective with enterprise level products and services as well as disruptive technologies where a clear understanding by program and project managers or contracting officers is required in order to buy your offering.  The process we use has little to do with the content of the white paper, although that is very important when you do make your submission to leadership councils, instead the process has to do with gaining insight and buy-in from key decision-makers that are needed to drive a “pilot” purchase for your product or service

All of these proactive processes have proven to be very good in differentiating our clients from their competition and more importantly – the incumbents.  In fact, we have already implemented this with several clients who are winning contracts in 2018 and building the basis for award in 2019 too. We would love to explore if you think these will work for you. Now is the best time to get proactive! Call us at 888-9-GET-isi (888-943-8474) and we will research your market and help you develop a strategy that works.

 

Winning Federal Contracts

in Federal Contracting by David Lowe

Winning Federal Contracts
BuildExpo Los Angeles

The federal government spends over $500 billion per year and is spending that money with your competition. Do you think you can compete? If you expect to win federal contracts, you’re going to need to differentiate yourself from your competition, market to key decision-makers and get them to stop buying from your competition and start buying from you. Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal, provided three presentations for the build expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center March 14 – 15 2018.

Thursday 9AM – Winning Federal Contracts

BuildExpo – Winning Federal Contracts – Presentation
Build Expo – Winning Federal Contracts – Worksheet
isiFederal Capabilities 2018

Other Build Expo Presentations

Wednesday 9AM – Doing Business with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Wednesday 11AM – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts

Other isiFederal Presentations

https://www.youtube.com/user/isiFederal

For additional information please contact Dave Lowe at 888-943-8474.

Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts

in Business, Business Development, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe

Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts
BuildExpo Los Angeles

The federal government spends over $500 billion per year and is spending that money with your competition. Do you think you can compete? If you expect to win federal contracts, you’re going to need to differentiate yourself from your competition, market to key decision-makers and get them to stop buying from your competition and start buying from you. Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal, provided three presentations for the build expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center March 14 – 15 2018.

Wednesday 11AM – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts

BuildExpo – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts – Presentation
BuildExpo – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts – Worksheet
isiFederal Capabilities 2018

Other Build Expo Presentations

Wednesday 9AM – Doing Business with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Thursday 9AM – Winning Federal Contracts

Other isiFederal Presentations

https://www.youtube.com/user/isiFederal

For additional information please contact Dave Lowe at 888-943-8474.

Doing Business with FEMA – Emergency & Disaster Recovery

in Agency Focus, Business, Business Development, Federal Contracting, Managing Your Proposal, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe

Doing Business with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
BuildExpo Los Angeles

Due to natural disasters, over $80 billion has been added to the fiscal year 2018 and 2019 federal budget. Registering and marketing to FEMA is essential to establishing your company as a FEMA resource. Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal, provided three presentations for the build expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center March 14 – 15 2018.

Wednesday 9AM – Doing Business With FEMA

BuildExpo – Doing Business with FEMA – Presentation
BuildExpo – Doing Business with FEMA – Worksheet
isiFederal Capabilities 2018

Reference Docs

INDUSTRY LIASION PROGRAM VENDOR PROFILE – vendor_profile_form_
DoingBusinessAfterDisaster
FY2017 Budget Brief
March2018DisasterReliefFundReport
GSA eLibrary Schedule Summary

FEMA Recovery Services

March2018DisasterReliefFundReport
RSF_NaturalandCultural_0623_508
RSF_Infrastructure_Systems_0623_508
RSF_Housing_0623_508
RSF_HealthandSocialServices_0623_508
RSF_CPCB_41416

Other Build Expo Presentations

Wednesday 11AM – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts
Thursday 9AM – Winning Federal Contracts

Other isiFederal Presentations

https://www.youtube.com/user/isiFederal

For additional information please contact Dave Lowe at 888-943-8474.

Get Shortlisted on GSA eBuy

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.

GSA eBuy is for GSA schedule holders only, so if you don’t have a schedule, you are out of luck.  Even if you do have a schedule, some GSA eBuy quotes only go to a seShortlist_GSA_eBuylect few schedule holders.  Guess who decides which ones?  That’s right – the buyers and or program people.  Instead of digging for opportunities that are on eBuy or FBO (too late and too much exposure), use that time to proactively go after the GSA eBuy contacts that have proven they buy what you sell.

1) Use QuikFuse to monitor your eBuy Opportunities.  With QuikFuse you know about opportunities faster, stay organized and it also tracks all the federal buyers and contracting officers who have been buying in your space.

3)    Ask them how they like to buy.  You know they use eBuy, what about BPA’s or IDIQ’s?  How do they feel about alternative vehicles like NASA SEWP or Army CHESS?  These are ways for you to connect to them where they live – contracting!

4)    Give them insider information.  Let them know about specific purchasing patterns in your industry and how they can get better than GSA pricing with BPA pricing or special project pricing.  Give them a sample Scope of Work with specs and let them know you have preferred pricing with the manufacturer.

5) Be persistent.  The incumbents are touching the buyers regularly – sometimes every day.  If you want to compete, make sure you stay in touch so you stay relevant the next time a requirement comes across their desk.

GSA eBuy is a massive opportunity for GSA schedule holders that understand the game and can play the game.  As we mentioned earlier tools like QuikFuse can help you get the jump on the competition and even help you eliminate your competitors altogether.

3 Ways to Get Special Pricing From Manufacturers

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.

group-special-pricingMany manufacturers will provide special discounts for federal customers with whom they are trying to establish a foothold.  Sometimes these discounts can be so deep that the winning bid is less than your price from distribution or the manufacturer. The result – even if you go in really thin you still loose.  Now, you can complain about it, or you can play that game to win.

1)    Get registered first. The key is to get the information to the manufacturers first and lock in your discount before your competitors. If you use QuikFuse for eBuy notification, you get the buyer and delivery contacts via email. The second that QuikFuse email lands, try and get special pricing. Some manufacturers will give you that pricing even if it is already on eBuy.

2)    Be Proactive.  If they bought once, they will buy again.  If you maintain a database of these contacts and reach out to them, you can build a relationship so you know before an opportunity hits GSA eBuy.  Once you have spoken to these contacts, register them with the manufacturer, you might just score that special pricing for the next eBuy quote.

3)    Leverage a Competitive Product.  So the OEM doesn’t want to budge on pricing? Why not go to a competitor and get competitive pricing from them? Often times you can get deeper discounts when trying to dislodge a Spec’d product and even get brownie points from a contracting officer for letting them know about an equivalent solution.  So, if the brand name manufacturer won’t give special pricing, see what the competitive manufacturer will do.  Most of the time they will. If you need help with “Spec Breaking” or marketing a competing product let us know!

Want to Win? Become a Thought Leader.

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H.


Stand_Out-GovBriefGovBrief
Procurement Briefings. Establishing yourself as a thought leader is a great way to get noticed.  In a LinkedIn study, 37% of program level decision makers and 41% of C-Level decision use the information provided by a thought leader when making a decision – this is HUGE.

GovBrief taps into that important mindset and helps separate you from the pack. Using an interactive web environment GovBrief provides you with a direct connection with decision makers where they live, at the comfort of their own desks.

If your topic is good (like a hot topic affecting their world), you might have several hundred decision makers show up!  So, search through your contacts and invite some of your top targets to a briefing.  It makes you look good and if you are entertaining and informative (not selling them), you can really make progress in your relationship development.

Furthermore, GovBrief session thought leaders benefit from insider information as government decision makers ask questions or answer polls during the briefing indicating where they are in the decision process and what information they need to help them make a decision.

You can incorporate best in class business development tactics like procurement GovBrief that will get your federal sales on track.  The right time is now to get your company in front of the right people! Visit www.isifederal.com for solutions to increase your BD efforts today or call 888-9-GET-isi (888) 943-8474.

Working with the Government Shutdown

in Federal Contracting by David Lowe

It is hard enough to sell to the government, now we have to deal with uncertainties like the threat of, or in this case, a shutdown.  Even so, we can use negative situations like this to empathise and connect with our prospects.  This morning we addresses this in our Federal BD Monday Roundtable session…

 

7 Days of #FedFrenzy

in Developing Your Federal Strategy by isiFederal

We’re already a week into our #FedFrenzy countdown to the end of the fiscal year 2015! This countdown is all about the actions you can take right now to help your business gain a competitive advantage during the spending frenzy that peaks in September. In case you missed any of the tweets, here’s 7 days’ worth of federal business advice. Feel free to retweet or favorite these for later reference.

1. Update your capability statement. 

2. Make sure your GSA Schedule numbers are profitable.

3. Find three people you were supposed to call last month–and call them!

4. Send an updated, dated capabilities statement even if you haven’t changed a thing.

5. Find and target the top fifty people who buy what you sell.

(And if you don’t know who they are, that would be a good point to start.)

6. Habit 7…Sharpen your saw. Take a hike!

7. Habit 7: Sharpen your saw. Think of your favorite place and go there for a while.

We’ll be sharing a new tip every day, so be sure to check #FedFrenzy for updates.

Change is in the Air

in Federal Business News, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, News by David Lowe

January 15th Dan Tangherlini announced that he will be leaving GSA effective February 13, 2014. Denise Turner Roth will assume the responsibility of Acting Administrator as President Obama works to fill the position permanently.

What can we learn from this change?

Exactly that, change is inevitable and we have to learn to live with it. When I saw this I remembered a comment from a former federal CIO (for the life of me I cannot remember his name)

    Ignore change and Die
    Accept change and Survive
    Embrace change and Thrive

There are many changes coming for GSA schedule holders including new FSSI initiatives, professional services combined schedules and even some schedules slated to be dissolved altogether.

Leveraging Change

Anytime there is a change in the internal structure of an organization there are new opportunities created. Think about it… If you have a relationship with Dan Tangherlini and he leaves, that is a problem for you because you will be losing a key relationship. If you didn’t have a relationship with Dan Tangherlini, now you may have a way to develop a relationship with Denise Turner Roth, who will likely stay for several years even if she is not considered for the permanent position.

Planning for Change

Your federal strategy should include developing and nurturing relationships throughout the food chain. This will inevitably establish key areas of influence as lower level folks accept promotions and move up the chain of decision-making. Think about the people who already know Denise Turner Roth… They are now in a great position and have political cover as they pursue larger federal contracts with GSA and other agencies.Join me on January 20th at 11am where I will be hosting the “Drive GSA Sales” webinar series. The topic for 2015 is Disrupting the Current Pattern of Purchasing. Register here: Drive GSA Sales 2015

Chinese-made Products and GSA

in Business Development, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by Aisha H.

Trade with ChinaGo to any Walmart, Costco, Best Buy or any major retail seller and you are going to find products made in China. Low manufacturing and labor costs: it’s simply cheaper to have goods produced there and then shipped all over the world. Many companies have gone to China as the best way to maintain their profitability, or in some cases even just survive against their competitors.

I spoke with a business owner providing finished steel products and who did the transition to China a few years ago. He said he didn’t want to shutdown his U.S. factory but he had to because of labor costs to keep his company in business. He said despite the costs of loading huge heavy steel cargo onto oceangoing ships and shipping it all the way USA, it was still far cheaper than running his factory in the States and it was what he had to do.

So it’s the way of the modern world market to use China as a major supply source.

How does this affect companies who want to sell their products made in China in to the federal government through GSA’s acquisition path?

Here’s the scoop: China is not a TAA compliant country so if you make a finished product that comes from China, like a flashlight or a hand tool, and want to sell it to the government through GSA…you can’t do that. Another thing you can’t do is take a finished product made in China, ship it to USA, put it in a new package or box of some sort, and sell it to the government. GSA simply doesn’t allow that.

So what’s the work around to get past this trip wire?

There are two solutions:

1You can take a series of parts made in China that on their own are not the final product, assemble those parts here in the United States or in a TAA compliant country and then the magic happens: Substantial Transformation.

Substantial transformation is the key to be able to sell China made products to the federal government through GSA and be completely compliant. A good example of this is Dell Computers. They take a series of parts that don’t function on their own and assemble those parts in the U.S. into a finished, working computer. At that point the computer they have created is classified as a US-made end product and can be sold to the federal government through GSA with no problem.

Dell_wiki

Dell: Manufactured in China, Made in USA

There are many other examples of substantial transformation and those companies enjoy sales through GSA while maintaining good margin and still be in compliance. To get those products on your GSA Schedule, we still have to prove the elements of substantial transformation to the Procurement Officer (PCO) at GSA.  That is usually pretty easy to do as long as substantial transformation is really happening. The companies we have had trouble with are the ones who want to take a finished product, put it in a new box, slap on instructions or warnings about use, and try to call that substantial transformation.

Many companies have slightly shifted “how” they build their products to be able to get them on their GSA Schedules. For example, still want to sell those flashlights I mentioned earlier? Have the core components made in China but shipped to the U.S. for assembly and packaging, and in doing so you can achieve a genuinely substantial transformation: from batteries, diodes and what have you into a real, working, light-emitting device. Getting a little creative and adjusting your production methods can be a good way to get your products that started in China onto your GSA Schedule and be sold in compliance with good profit margins.

2Or, you can have lower production and assembly costs and still be able to sell your products on GSA buy looking to and embracing Taiwan. In August of 2009 Taiwan became TAA compliant. That was huge news in the industry and, as opposed to China, many companies prefer to have their products made and assembled in Taiwan. Taiwan has similar costs for production and assembly labor like China–but TAA compliance means the need to prove substantial transformation doesn’t exist and Taiwan made products can be easily sold on GSA.

Taiwan becoming TAA compliant has been a huge plus in lower cost manufacturing and a great alternate path rather than use China.

Which other countries are TAA compliant?

To check out that list, head to this page and click the TAA button to see a world map of who else you can work with for lower manufacturing and assembly costs.

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