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3 Ways to Leverage Sequestration

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

Unless you are living under a rather large rock, you have been pummeled with sequestration hype. Here is the thing… The Federal government is not closing down and even with cuts, this coming summer and especially September will likely be a record setting months for GSA sales. Why? Think about it. Say they need to cut 5% of their budget… They have been holding back spending for the past 5 months and likely to hold for a couple more. 8 months of no spending means when May and June agencies are going to start realizing they have some catching up to do.

You CAN maximize your exposure right now…

1) Find and pursue new buyers. There are 85,000 buyers within 492 federal agencies. Chances are the ones that buy what you sell are currently piling up requirements waiting for money. Why not take this opportunity to identify and introduce your company to them? Here is a video and links on how we do it.

Marketing Essentials Video

Federal Marketing Essentials – SAMPLE

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL

2) Do a Marketing Makeover. Start with your capabilities by creating a tight, easy to read one pager. Then, update your website to include a federal landing page so you can direct people right to your federal information (including your schedule).

3) Update your GSA offerings on GSAadvantage. Most GSA schedule holders put stuff on GSA and just leave it there. Make sure you have the right new products and services listed so they can find you when they are ready to buy.

Remember, September is coming and so is a windfall of spending. People buy from people they like. They can’t like you if they don’t know you. Dedicate resources for going after some of the most important people in your federal market. Chances are your competition is not being proactive so this can be a huge competitive advantage for you

Countdown to September

in Federal Contracting by David Lowe

Countdown.jpg

September, 30 2013 is a Monday and at 11:59PM Hawaiian time, the last order against the 2013 budget will be placed. Why are we talking about this now? Because if you are not positioning yourself for this day right now, you will miss out.

You need to have your company in front of key decision makers regularly (that means at least once a month) from now until the end of September if you want a shot at new opportunities. Don’t believe the hype either, there will be spending and if the trending stays consistent with past years, this year will be another record breaker.

How is that with sequestration? Think about it. The feds have all be guarding their budget spending for the past 5 months. Spending has been down significantly and even with the cuts, they will have to make up ground as we get further through the year. This is why positioning your company with new buyers is so critical to your federal success.

What you can do right now…

1)      Get Smart about your market.  isiFederal’s Federal Marketing Essentials package provides you with what you need to know where your market is and who is buying what you sell.

2)      Develop a strategy around your market.

  1. Prioritize your approach based on your Marketing essentials.
  2. Dedicate resources for pursuit
  3. Identify gaps
  4. Budget for success

3)      Go Get It. Get your message out to the people responsible for buying what you sell using our LIMRIC™ Process.

Leverage relationships

Influence the decision making process

Monitor for Winnable opportunities

Respond

Improve your response

Capture WINS!

 

isiFederal can help you start or grow your federal business.  Call 888-9-GET-isi now so you can capture business this September!

The Right Message

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe

The message that sells, specifically – your message that sells – needs to be formulated around your customer. This is critical because a lot of buyers, especially contracting officers really don’t care how good you are at what you do. A key way to get your message across is in your capabilities statements.

I recommend two, customizable capabilities:

1) 1 page with bullet points. This doesn’t have to be sexy, it needs to be functional. Make sure all off your contact AND contract information is on there. 3 bullet points that will resonate with that agency (look at their initiatives and your competitor’s info).

Sample Federal Capabilities

2) A multiple pager with past performance and sample SOW’s. Do this right and your communication may turn into a completely baked (that means your words copied and pasted into an RFP) opportunity.

Do this right and you will win. Do it wrong and you will waste a ton of money and time plus your competition will be banking your tax money. Now, if that doesn’t motivate you…

Dynamic Webinars

in Federal Contracting, Resources, Webinars & Events by David Lowe

You know, sometimes something just flat works and this past month I was involved in two of the best webinars ever…

The first was a super smash with Mr. Breakthrough Umar Hameed where we dove into what inhibits our federal sales concentrating on our belief structure and what we unknowingly project to our prospects. I love this stuff because it deals with our thinking and how government worker stereotypes (like the DMV workers) infect our ability to build and maintain rapport.

Driving GSA Sales – February 2013

The second was with Driving GSA Sales webinar series where we revealed some of our secret sauce – Executive and Procurement Briefings. The success of this process often results in new opportunities and getting in BEFORE it hits the street – and maybe even keep it from hitting the street at all!

How To Go Federal – February 2012

Come and join the fun!

  • Reaching      Key Decision Makers
  • Building      Rapport
  • Delivering      Your Value Proposition
  • Influencing      the Scope

For GSA Schedule holders (every 3rd Tuesday at 11am EST)

Driving GSA Sales 2013

For Everyone (Every 2nd Tuesday at 11am EST)

How To Go Federal Webinar Series

 

Establishing Effective KPI’s

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

The federal space is a long term sales cycle and it will take time and dedicated effort to reach your sales goals. You need to know what success looks like before you start making money in your expansion efforts. Let’s say your isiFederal intelligence reveals 500 buyers for what you sell. Our goal is usually 15% dialog within 60 days and 20-25% dialog within 6 months. This means conversations with 125-150 people responsible for purchasing what you sell. These contacts will range from unsellable (in tight with your competition) to HOT. All of them can be your customers if you have the right message at the right time.

BD Key Performance Indicators

1) Introduction e-mails sent

a. Positive responses
b. Negative responses

c. Bounced

2) Follow-up

a. Calls per hour
b. Decision Makers Reached per Day

c. Follow-up Meetings Set per Day

3) Follow-up E-mails sent

a. Capabilities
b. Pricing

c. Sample SOW

4) Initial Meeting/Conference Call

a. Upcoming opportunities
b. Recent

c. Missed/Long Range Opportunities

5) Follow-up touches (every 21-30 days)

a. E-mails sent
b. Decision Makers Reached per Day

c. Meetings Set per Day

6) Opportunities

a. HOT (immediate)
b. High potential (next 180 days)
c. Mid-Range (Next 18 months)
d. Long Range (More than 18 months)
e. Outside Core
i. Partner to capture
ii. Refer to competent non-competitor

7) Influence Scope

8) Pre-Proposal

9) Proposals

10) Wins

It’s All About The Right People…

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe

No matter what, if you want to be successful, you better be in front of the right people at the right time with the right message. Embedded in this statement are all the components of your federal strategy. Most federal contractors know a few of the right people but have no idea how to identify people outside of their current circle of influence. Your strategy needs to start with finding more of “the right people”. I cannot stress more the importance of the target rich environment and since the feds buy everything, there are hundreds, maybe even a thousand buyers with budget and needs for what you sell right now.

Sure there are initiatives and forecasts released by the agencies every single year but they are only a fraction of the total spend and have full exposure to everyone on the planet. Plus, most of the big initiatives have been influenced by the most formidable competitors with relationships and political connections that are impenetrable. Your job is to find “the right people” under the radar of the big boys.

So far I haven’t found a better way than looking at the historical data. Why? Because power in DC is based on budget and if they had budget last year they will protect it for this year. More importantly, whoever spent the money on your services last year is most likely to be spending the money this year.

Three ways to find “the right people”:

1) Look at your competition. If they are doing it, so can you. How much is GSA? How much is another vehicle? Who are their contacts? How are they procured? Not just Sole source, BPA, 8(a), SDVOSB etc, but what NAICS and PSC are they using?

2) Look at the whole market. If you look at the entire market you will probably find competitors that you never thought you had because they are in places you never knew existed and are putting millions into their bank accounts that could be in yours.

3) Look for your sweet spot. Chances are your sweet spot in expansion in a new federal market (that means anything outside your current influence) will be about half of your average sale AND under $750k. Interestingly enough, this is under the radar for most of the big boys so they don’t even care to pay attention. Get to $1.5M and you have entered the realm of serious, formidable competition.

Now, you can spend 3-4 months on GSAadvantage and a host of other government sites looking for this information but you need it NOW if you are going to be able to make a dent in this year’s sales efforts. In most instances we can provide you what you need in three weeks for three grand. Take a look at the sample Marketing Essentials Intelligence here:

Market Intelligence Overview Video- 3 Min 44 Sec

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

 

Sequestration

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Business News, Federal Contracting, News, Policy Impact by David Lowe

If I have talked about sequestration once over the past few days, it has been a hundred times. Everyone–workers, contractors, politicians–is asking what I think is going to happen. Of course, I have no idea. But since I don’t think anyone inside the beltway has the ability to think rationally or use common sense, I simply choose to look past whatever is going to happen and choose to plan for taking market share from those who panic.

I think we can be pretty certain…

  1. The federal government is not going to fold. If that happens, it won’t matter who has what contract anyway.
  2. Spending will happen again.
  3. They will buy what you sell.

So, Plan.

  • Plan to take advantage of companies that don’t plan.
  • Plan to take advantage of companies on the fringe that might not be able to weather a storm.
  • Plan to take advantage of a lull and build relationships with your competitors’ best contacts.

 

How? Find your competitors contacts and go get them. You know, this concept really shouldn’t change whether business is good or business is bad. It is just extra effective if you keep your head during troubling times when you position yourself as a qualified and ultimately pancake your panicking competitors.

Don’t know who is buying what you sell? Click here for a 4 minute sample of how you can find out.

Market Essentials Overview Video

Federal Marketing Essentials – SAMPLE

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL

Now, this is a different approach than a bid database because it revolves around people instead of opportunities. If you know who the people are, then you proactively go after those buyers and PMs as you would any strategic account. Check out how you can find the projects in your sweet spot.

Myth: If I monitor my primary NAICS I will find winnable opportunities.

in Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

We have been working through the sample intelligence, to download, click the following links:

Market Intelligence Overview Video- 3 Min 44 Sec

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

So, you are monitoring NAICS for your company right?  Well, it is a virtual certainty that you are missing some really lucrative opportunities.  Let’s look at the top NAICS codes for tactical gear and see where it shows up…

336992 MILITARY ARMORED VEHICLE, TANK, AND TANK COMPONENT MANUFACTURING

315999 OTHER APPAREL ACCESSORIES AND OTHER APPAREL MANUFACTURING

922120 POLICE PROTECTION

Most tactical gear folks don’t even look at 336992 because they are not thinking of where the gear is being used. Also, take a look at 315999- this is an “other” category and there are several that are important in the tactical gear space. Take a look at the Excel file and click the “NAICS” tab. You will see that all three of these NAICS account for about 51% of the total spend ($5 Billion) but only 25% of the number of contracts.

This means that the other $5 Billion is split between 453 other NAICS codes like $58 Million in 561210 FACILITIES SUPPORT SERVICES and $27 Million in 315211 MEN’S AND BOYS’ CUT AND SEW APPAREL CONTRACTORS and most of these are less than $150k per contract. Now that is a sweet spot!   How and why does this happen? It happens either because the contracting officer doesn’t know what to do with the opportunity or he/she has a preferred vendor and doesn’t want 25 responses (especially for smaller projects). Either way, it is benefitting a select few federal vendors and you are not one of them.   NAICS anomalies happen in every area of the federal government in every industry because it helps minimize the competition. Your best customer doesn’t want 25 responses any more than you want 25 competitors. Take a look at your competition (see pages 56, 60, 67 for their NAICS wins) and then you can understand how you can do it too!   NAICS Myth: BUSTED

 

Myth: There is too much competition in the federal market

in Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

Well, if you are only considering the 4.5% of opportunities that hit FedBizOpps, you are correct. However, the rest of the 2.6 million contracts tell a significantly different story…

Take a moment to view the video and download these samples:

Market Intelligence Overview Video- 3 Min 44 Sec

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

Take a look at page 5 of the PDF file above. You will see that 78% of all of the contracts were competed between 5 companies. That means nearly $8.5 Billion of tactical sales only had 4 competitors. In fact, nearly half – 47% had no competition at all (see page 28) and $6.5 Billion went to companies who enjoyed NO competition at all.   Take a look at this intelligence sample for tactical gear. Nearly 15,000 contracts in that specific market alone. Over $10 Billion in total sales. How does this happen? Who is responsible for these 15,000 contracts? That is the real question. Take a look at the sample intelligence surrounding these contracts and the 700 contacts responsible for executing most of the $10 Billion in tactical gear sales.   This is typical throughout the federal marketplace. With the exception of certain types of construction, competition for most opportunities is less than 5 companies.

Competition Myth: BUSTED

Myth: FedBizOpps is the Best Place to Find New Opportunities

in Agency Focus, Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

If you go to www.fedbizopps.gov you will find around 19,000 opportunities. Huge, right? Look closer… those 19,000 are categorized in one of the following: Presolicitation, Combines Synopsis Solicitation, Sources Sought, Modification, Sale of Surplus Property, Special Notice, Foreign Government Standard, Award Notice, Justification and Approval, Intent to Bundle Requirements.

If you search all opportunities in the past 365 days, you will see that only 196,564 actually were posted. Let’s look closer… 74,426 were not even real opportunities (Presolicitaions, Sources Sought, Canceled etc.). That isn’t all… When you consider some were not awarded at all and about 80% of RFP’s are so heavily influenced by industry (winnable only by the contractor who assisted in writing the scope), that leaves about 3,000 opportunities per month – Nationwide across all industries. That is why most companies think there is too much competition – and they are right if FBO is your source.

Last year according to isiFederal Intelligence research, 2,623,071 contracts were awarded last year with 218,589 contracts being executed every single month (now that is more like it). That means only about 4.5% of opportunities actually hit the street on FedBizOpps and most of them are already baked for the competition.

FedBizOps Myth? BUSTED

Here is a video with some more on FBO… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNapeaNsJ3A&feature=share&list=UUT7lk1QZ641AoAeFE8YUG8g

The Psychology of the Federal Sale

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

The Psychology of the Federal Sale

Every single thing you do is advancing (or not advancing) a sale. Maybe it is selling the meeting, a follow-up or your actual product or service. The important thing to know is where you are relative to your buyer’s buying motives.

Think about the federal buyer for a moment… What are some of the stereotypes that come to mind? Write them down and you have a great foundation of the make-up of a federal buyer and what they need from you…

If you are a typical business person frustrated with government bureaucracy and inefficiency, did you know that you probably are projecting those negative thoughts in your phone conversations and maybe even in person?

How? We as humans “can’t not” project these things subconsciously because we believe them. That is why we need to be careful about our belief structures and what we are projecting. In fact, if we understand what makes the federal buyers buy, then we can project the solutions to that and they will receive these positive reinforcements to their buying motives- and it all happens subconsciously.

Hard to believe right? Well think about this for a moment… How is it that you and your best friend can finish each other’s sentences, move the same way, act the same way without any scripting? It all revolves around rapport and rapport starts, or doesn’t start within milliseconds of meeting or talking with someone. You know it happens because sometimes you just “click” and other times you can’t seem to generate a connection.

Now, when it comes to federal buyers, there are two important components to understand. First, where are you right now, and second where are they and what are their buying motives.  Federal buyers are not complicated, they are just like you – they want things to be easy.  That doesn’t mean they don’t work, they just don’t want to have to do extra work to buy from you.  So, if you can help them trim the work load, you are golden!

3 Golden Nuggets

Provide them with sample scopes of work that they can use in their next procurement.   Provide them with Sample Standard form 1445 filled out with the appropriate boxes filled, ready to go with item descriptions and all.

Provide them with your certifications- especially the ones that help them like small business, 8(a) and SDVOSB.

If you get into their world and understand what they do, you can positively change your belief structure and become more aligned with them – generating real rapport.

Key Contacts

in Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

Every day I am asked about key contacts in specific industries.  Why? Because there are over 80,000 federal buyers with authority to purchase and there are probably a few hundred that purchase what you sell on a regular basis.  Your proactive efforts should be focused on key contacts that are in line with your capabilities and past performance.

When we started isiFederal, it was critical to me that we be able to identify high probability targets.  Sure, you can track an opportunity but that can take up to 5 years before that comes around again with that buyer.  What about the other 25,000 or contracts that will be executed in that time period?  Who handles those? How can you find them?

Great questions.  The answer revolves around power.  Power is money and budget is king.  Nobody in DC or anywhere in the federal government wants to lose a dime of budget.  It is clear in year end use it or lose it spending and it is evident in the contracts that you want to compete for.  If the agency spent $100 Million last year, they will do it again this year and who do you think will be spending that money?  That’s right, the same people as last year.

We have developed an advanced intelligence that sifts through the contract information and compiles a complete report of information that is pertinent for your company. Most importantly we cross reference the contracts with the contacts responsible.  This gives us the contacts in context with your company’s strengths and capabilities. Here is a sample of what we have done, see what you think…

Federal Opportunity Databases & Feeders

in Bidding Basics, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe

We are all looking for ways to get ahead of the RFP and not be reactive to bids and opportunity databases can help us know what contracts are expiring and give us enough time to get in front of the key decision makers often a year or two in advance of the recompete. Recently I have been having a lot of discussions with folks who are looking into the opportunity databases like Deltek (now GovWin), Centurion and Bloomberg.

This is important because without some pre-proposal insight, it is often too late to have any influence or really understand the requirement fully once the opportunity hits the street. We have a rule around here, if we didn’t influence the scope, somebody else did. Sometimes that is the incumbent, sometimes it is a new player and if you have some connectivity beforehand, you can be that new player. The key is to focus on the people with decision making authority and influence.

Several of our clients have databases and monitor for opportunities. Here is the main issue they find… all of the databases concentrate on opportunities that are $500k and above AND once it hits the database radar, they let everyone know and because of the threshold. Now the big boys are paying attention and those big boys are well entrenched and have a lot more resources than most of my clients. This does not excite me.

Whenever I use any kind of analysis tool I like to look at what I call “feeders”. Using construction as an example, look at the food chain of a construction project. It starts with planning, surveying and permitting – then architects and environmental engineers – then GC’s and specialty trades – then maintenance and grounds keeping. The person responsible for the build is often the same person who starts the planning and permitting. Get to them and you not only know of an opportunity way before everyone else, you can often influence the next phase of the process.

This works in almost all industries. A few years ago we began doing market research for clients to find the “under the radar” contracts and contacts associated with those contracts. It was a pretty cool expedition and we learned a whole lot in the process. We did research for industrial battery company and used pallets as a feeder because if a customer has pallets, they need a fork lift and half of the forklifts use batteries. This gave us hundreds of buyers that would never show up on FBO or even the individual agency monitoring sites.

If you want to see how it works, you can find samples here:

Market Essentials Overview Video

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

Now, this is a different approach than a bid database because it revolves around people instead of opportunities. If you know who the people are, then you proactively go after those buyers and PMs as you would any strategic account. A byproduct of this approach is identifying the firms/primes that are winning. Who could possibly be a better referral source than the federal buyer or PM who refers you to the company PM? It is a beautiful thing when you bypass all the vendor databases and get to the PM of the prime for the project. At least you have the chance to be on the short list…

What I like most is identifying the key contacts of the competitors so I can target them directly. Since most of the accounts are at risk at some point, being in front of the right people makes all the difference.

Federal Buyer Survey

in Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe


       
Federal Buyer Survey

There are many things that affect the federal sales process. Tell us what you think of federal buyers and we will review the answers in our "How To Go Federal" Webinar series every 2nd Tuesday. We break these down so we can help you get to key decision makers and influence the process.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
After you submit you will be directed to a registration page for the  "How To Go Federal" webinar series where we will be reviewing the results.  For additional information, visit www.isifederal.com.

Drive GSA Sales

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by isiFederal

Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal is guest host for the September Drive GSA Sales webinar series. This series shows how GSA Schedule holders can effectively market their schedules by understanding their market, identifying buyers and proactively marketing to them.

This month’s topics:

  • Everyday Marketing Materials
  • Capabilities Statements
  • Business Cards
  • e-mail Signatures
  • Websites

This webinar is hosted every 3rd Tuesday. To register for future sessions click https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/697858502

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