Do I Need a Bid or RFP service?
No, you do not need a bid or RFP service to sell to the government.
End of blog.
Seriously, you can find government bids and RFPs by googling (or yahooing) or by visiting a city, county, or school website for free. You can also find all of the Federal opportunities for free on Sam.Gov.
You might be scratching your head, thinking why the heck do people spend thousands of dollars on a service, if you can find the opportunities for free.
The # 1 reason is TIME! No one has the time to manually check thousands of local government websites every day to see if there is an opportunity for their business. Even if they check a website in the morning, an opportunity might pop-up in the afternoon. Time is of the essence to prep for winning a deal!
Think of it this way, you are paying for convenience. A bid system will send you email alerts based on your keywords/codes so all you have to do is take the time to respond. If you can check your email, you can find new opportunities! It’s that simple.
One of the complaints we hear about bid and RFPs systems is that the alerts also include other products or services then what the company sells. Let’s say you sell iPad cases, your search criteria could be for technology devices, computers, or handheld computer accessories. Sometimes you will have to sort through the “noise” but this is as easy as skimming the headlines to your daily news feed.
Using the example above, if you see an agency buying iPads but the bid does not have iPad covers, you should call the buyer on the bid to work a deal outside the RFP. Expired bids are another great resource to identify who you should contact based on their previous experience of buying what you sell. Who knows, maybe they are unhappy with their current vendor and you could help save the day.
When evaluating a government bid service, take the time to see how the system works before paying for the service. There are hundreds of companies that will pull the opportunities from individual government websites and aggregate the information to make it easier for you to know about the solicitation. Ask the following questions:
How many sources of information (ie…# of agencies) do you have in your system?
What agency types can we see? Federal? State? Local? Education?
How often does your bid service pull new opportunities?
Knowing about the opportunity is only half the battle. The next step is completing the solicitation. Your company should have a boilerplate description of your products/services and history of past performance when completing the scope of work. Then figuring out your “magic number” for pricing is always a fun time!
The rule of thumb when it comes to bids is that you should help the agency craft the requirements around your specs, getting ahead of the competition. :)