How to Win Government Contracts Outside the Bid/RFP Process
Let’s start with addressing one of the biggest questions we get asked at GovSales University.
“Do you have a government bid template?”
“Do you have a template for RFPs?”
A template would be impossible to provide because every government agency has different requirements for their bids/RFPs.
The question you should be asking is, “How do I respond to a bid or RFP(Request for Proposal)?”
Answer: Review the scope of work requirements from the agency. If you can deliver the products or services that are being requested, then draft up a document addressing each individual requirement. This can be as simple as copying and pasting the requirements and then listing your company's capabilities. Some government agencies include a questionnaire for you to complete with background information on your company and pricing. This is as easy as filling out the answers to a test.
The bigger question is, “How do I win a bid or RFP?”
Answer: Include testimonials of past projects with other agencies to show you have a proven track record working with the government. If you are new to selling to the government, then list the companies who you have worked with in the private sector, giving examples of how you helped others with your products or services. Giving an agency peace of mind that your company can deliver what the agency needs to purchase.
The easiest way to win a government contract is to help the agency write the scope of work based on unique features of your products or services to help eliminate the competition. :)
This leads us into our topic on how to win government contracts outside the bid/RFP process. If you have developed a relationship with an agency like we suggested above to help influence the work requirements, then you are in a position to have the agency purchase without issuing a bid/RFP. Agencies want to make the procurement process as easy as possible but also have to be in compliance with their guidelines.
Tip #1: Are you willing to be flexible with your pricing?
Every agency will have a dollar amount where they can purchase a product or service without going through a bidding process. Some agencies have a limit of $2,500 and other agencies have $100,000. We worked a deal with a University who could purchase from us directly if our price was below $50,000. Guess what? The negotiated price of our service now became $49,900. This made it easier for the agency to get what they needed and also saved us both from the time consuming process of going through a bid. It was well worth the discounted rate if you calculated the man hours involved if we took the other route.
Tip #2: Have you won a previous contract with an agency who follows the same procurement process?
Adding language to your previous “wins” that will allow agencies to piggyback on the contract is a game changer when it comes to avoiding a bid/RFP. Here is a little secret....government agencies prefer to purchase from co-ops and state contracts. Do you think that a purchasing agent would like to spend months drafting up a bid/RFP from scratch or purchase from a previously negotiated deal that followed their procurement rules? You know the answer and this is why piggybacking is helpful for winning deals outside the bid/RFP process. Next time you are in the approval process for winning a bid/RFP, ask the agency if you can include additional verbiage that will allow other agencies to also buy your products or services! This award can be used again and again and again to help you close business.
Tip #3: What makes your product or service unique?
The term sole source is a gray area in the procurement process. Some agencies have stricter policies than others. Sole source means that you have a product or service that does not exist anywhere else. This means that the agency could put out a bid but your company would be the only one to respond since no one else can provide what they need. So instead of posting the solicitation, they can buy from you directly with a verification letter known as a sole source letter that clearly defines you have capabilities that are unique to your offering and cannot be purchased anywhere else. We see this as a common practice for IT/Software companies but can also be applied to other industries.
Let’s face it, no one likes the bid or RFP process. It is time consuming for agencies as well as vendors. Try leveraging the tips above to win your next government contract!