How to Sell to the Government
When a company is thinking about selling to the government, the Federal government is the first agency type that comes to mind. The next step, is how to sell to the federal government. It’s a common misconception that everyone thinks that they can get on the GSA(General Services Administration) schedule and start making millions of dollars. Does this sound familiar to you? Here is a little secret, you do not need to be on the GSA schedule to sell to the government.
The first step to winning a Federal government deal is to register with Sam.gov. This is a free service that allows you to see current opportunities from Federal agencies looking to purchase. If you are not registered with SAM(System for Award Management), you cannot compete for opportunities with ANY Federal agency.
Here are the main agencies who purchase inside the Federal government:
One important thing to remember is that certain government opportunities require past performance of working with the government. So how the heck do you gain experience if you need experience to win the deal? This is like asking a recent college graduate for their resume when applying for their first job. Someone needs to give you a CHANCE, taking a leap of faith to work with you so you gain the necessary experience of proving that you have what it takes to get the job done.
Here are 3 Tips to Help You Sell to the Government:
Tip #1: Start Local
Working with local government agencies is much easier than winning a Federal contract for your first deal. Local government agencies include cities, counties, towns, and schools. Start in your own backyard by calling every agency in the surrounding area(50 mile radius) and introduce yourself as a local vendor. Purchasing agents enjoy keeping tax payer dollars in their community, helping you establish a competitive edge called local preference that is designated for companies headquartered in their immediate area. Focus on building a relationship first, sharing stories of how you helped out other companies with your products or services and are now looking to help the public sector. Think of yourself as a farmer, planting seeds with each communication, knowing that with time the seeds will grow and you will soon be able to enjoy your harvest!
Tip #2: Start Small
When you hear that the United States government spends $7 trillion dollars a year, it is easy to get excited about winning a contract that will change your life. Those deals definitely exist, but you must learn to walk before you can run. Once you have developed relationships with 20 local agencies, it is time for you to explore winning a deal outside the bid/rfp process. Negotiate a price point that will allow your local government to take the next steps in working with you that falls into their discretionary budget. Avoiding the bid/rfp process will cut down the sales cycle and allow you to gain the experience of helping your government by lowering the financial risk on their end. Winning your first government deal will pay off 100X as you will now have a testimonial, proving you are a reliable vendor for when the bigger job opportunities come your way.
Tip #3: Long Game
Once you have a few government deals under your belt, it is time to grow your business with the largest purchaser in the world. The government spends $20 billion a day! To put this amount into perspective, the government spends in one month, the same amount Amazon earns in revenue across an entire year! If you are looking to grow your revenue, you should be in the mindset of entering government sales for the long haul. Selling to the government will become easier with time, just like anything else in life. Agencies purchase everything from paperclips to battleships and when agencies are happy with your products or services, the word will spread to their peers. Including past performance from local government agencies will help increase your chances of winning those million dollar deals from the Federal government.
If you are interested in learning more about how to sell to the government, check out Jack Siney(Co-Founder of GovSpend and GovSales University) during his interview with Brad Lea using this video link.