Here is another report in GPN’s series on strategies for businesses that wish to sell more goods and services to federal agencies. As the end of the 2013 federal fiscal year approaches on Sept. 30, government market observers such as Lisa Firestone say that federal agencies are entering the busy federal buying season. GPN caught up with government marketing expert Jennifer Schaus to find out about end of federal fiscal year strategies.
Government Product News: How do you see the end of FY 2013 shaping up? Are your clients seeing increased federal activity?
Jennifer Schaus: Our customers are busier than ever now, mostly in proposal-writing mode, responding to GSA E-Buy notifications or we are making modifications to their GSA Schedule to add products/services for quick year-end purchases.
They are also seeking partners that have the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVO) designation, or that are taking part in the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) program. Our clients are also searching for partners who have HUBzone certification. It is all about relationships not only with your customers (the government) but also with you competition.
The SBA’s 8(a) business development program is a business assistance initiative for small disadvantaged businesses. The 8(a) program offers a range of assistance to firms that are owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. To qualify for the program, your business must be located in an area designated as a HUBZone.
GPN: What strategies should companies employ now? JS: Companies need to know what their value is in solving the customer problem — plus obtaining additional points for checking the box or boxes helping the agency meet their set-aside goals. If you can achieve those pieces of the puzzle, you may have a bit more freedom when it comes to price.
GPN: We hear that the end of the federal fiscal year is an important time for vendors who want to sell to federal agencies. Is that true?
JS: The Federal Q4 game is like the purchase made in the airport before the discerning frequent travelers’ flight. It’s very time-sensitive. What is easy to buy? Which vendors are reputable, easy to find, easy to buy from — and make you look good? You’ve got money in your hand and you need to use it, otherwise it’s gone.
At federal agencies during the fourth quarter, the buyer will choose the firms that they know and trust. This is not the time to implement a pilot program.
GPN: Will sequestration have an impact on end of federal fiscal year 2013 purchases?
JS: The sequester is necessary, but it is driving competition up and prices down — thus causing LPTA procurements. LPTA means Lowest Price Technically Acceptable. Companies are almost buying contracts — not making any money — in the hopes of staying alive and getting “in” to build on the existing business (in future years).
They will cross their fingers in the hopes of increasing prices with a contract renewal the following year. This has become survival of the fittest and jumping through the hoops for the buyers (i.e., obtaining the 8(a) certification, the SDVO verification, getting on the GSA Schedule). For vendors, the goal is to make it easier for the buyer to find you, procure from you and check some boxes so they, the buyers, shine, too. There’s just a lot more companies on the playing field with which to contend — or partner with.
GPN: Thank you, Jennifer Schaus.
Jennifer Schaus leads her boutique consulting firm that specializes in the U.S. government sector. Her firm’s offices are located in Washington, D.C., and in Rome, Italy. The firm helps companies analyze, assess and capitalize on business opportunities in the U.S. government sectors (includes federal, state and local and quasi-government organizations — NGOs, etc.). Schaus’ clients include both product and service companies from all industries.
In the video, Jennifer Schaus hosts a discussion of the SBA 8(a) certification process for small and disadvantaged businesses. The video is part of a series of government contracting webinars.
assume the investors represent the Federal Government Agencies…
1./Your Pitch Will Not Resonate With Everyone.
target agency, their hot spots, where you will have the best ROI.Tailor your pitch for the agency – including
your Capability Statement, the folks you send in for meetings and how you
present your solution.
2./Know Your “Stuff”.
Yourpresentation should be rehearsed until
perfect.Anticipate the questions and
have the answers on the tip of your tongue.Know how your solution will solve a problem & be able to explain it
as well as your competitive advantage.Sharks want to know how you will make them money; government agencies
want to know how you will save them money.
3./Past Performance Counts!
previous customers builds credibility, trust and confidence in your solution –
and YOU!Without prior sales, it makes
it hard for agencies (or investors) to sign a contract or obligate money for
your solution.Often times we see the
Sharks partners on deals.It is a way to
share in the risk – and agencies are much the same.If the DEA has signed on for your product,
then the FBI may be more likely to follow suit.
4./Be Realistic about Value - & Negotiate.
budgets are tight right now.LPTA
(Lowest Price Technically Acceptable) is the norm. Don’t over value your
solution.How many times have we seen
the Sharks do the math on the valuation and counter offer at a lower equity
stake or lower dollar investment.Know
your price, margins & value.The
converse is also true.Don’t sell
yourself short, demolish your profit and put yourself out of business just to
have Unlce Sam as a client.
samples and demos help paint a picture of what the product/service will and can
do.The solution has to be something the
buyer likes.It also helps if they like
you, too.Just as the Shark Tank
contestants waited in long lines, created something unique and competed to make
a presentation – government contractors must also compete.There are no hand-outs or guarantees.
6./Know Your Window of Opportunity.
we see the Sharks make an offer that the contestant must accept or decline
within 30 seconds or less.Take it or
leave it.It’s now or never.The Federal Government is much the same.There are short turn-arounds for RFP’s and
even end of year budget cycles.Be ready
to respond.Being prepared and knowing
what to go after is half the battle.
7./Shake, Rattle & Roll.
hand-shake, once you are funded by a Shark or secure that government contract,
it is not “easy street”. The real work now begins.It’s time to roll.Ensure you are prepared for what comes next
and can carry out the mission essential tasks.Having this capability and being able to demonstrate it upfront is what
will help you gain the confidence of the buyer and lead to your success.
8./It Is a Big Tank
are many overnight Shark Tank success stories as well as multi-million dollar
government contractors.Most of the time
it takes hard work, multiple fishing expeditions with the right bait, boat
& crew.Casting your line a few
times is part of the process.
Jennifer Schaus is
founder of Jennifer Schaus & Associates a government contract consulting
firm in Washington, DC.
Topic: Leveraging SOCIAL MEDIA For Marketing & Sales Success in 2013 Presenter: Jennifer Schaus Note: *This is not an industry specific webinar. Topics are primarily geared towards B2B. Government contractors may also benefit. RECORDED Presentation:http://youtu.be/uXWJneBnsrU
Topic: BUNDLED CONTRACTS & The Necessity for PARTNERSHIPS - Govt Contracting Presenter: Jennifer Schaus & Earl Holland (Growth Strategy Consultants) RECORDED Presentation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwSVXcgrQms
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Jennifer Schaus endorses GovLish --- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0m6Nw1lPoE