Conducting business with the Federal Government has tremendous growth potential for technology companies of all sizes. Actually, many federal contracts favor small business to level the playing field. Knowing the ins and outs of the bidding process, and forging relationships with contractors that offer complementary services to your core business, pays off handsomely.
If you’re an SMB in the tech space, pay close attention to the Government-Wide Acquisition Contract (GWAC). Think of GWAC as a tailored online marketplace for federal agencies. Its underlying goal places emphasis on awarding contracts to companies of a specific scale, owned or comprised of people from certain socioeconomic criteria, engages in sustainable business practices, and other behaviors lawmakers deem worthy of a contract investment. This blog serves as an overview of GWACs contract opportunities, and how RainKing’s sales and marketing intelligence opens doors for winning business. However, whether you’re totally new to dealing in the public sector or a seasoned veteran, you can delve deeper by checking out our tips and tricks to selling into the Federal Government in our comprehensive ebook: Winning Bids & Business: Strategies for Selling into the Federal Government.
You will learn:
- How to navigate the bidding process and write bids than win
- How to organize marketing and sales efforts around the public sector calendar
- How to apply private sector marketing tactics for success in the public sector
- How to identify actionable data and investment signals that drive revenue
For success under GWACs, companies must apply and qualify through the GSA, the overarching body governing federal procurement. The GSA does a nice job laying out the steps involved in becoming a federal vendor. Small businesses can find office resources for getting started with GSA on the federal site.
Here’s a quick rundown for SMB contractors that hits the key points:
- Get certified for GWACs set-aside business opportunities by applying on the SBA website for applicable special recognition (woman-owned, veteran-owned, based in ‘disadvantaged’ locales, and more).
- You need a DUNS registration for basic vendor recognition. It may take several months to arrive; certain status approvals take over a year.
- It takes significant resources to navigate the tedious information gathering processes, an extensive number of acronyms—practically alphabet soup, and red tape. Allocate appropriately.
- Use the same methods that win private sector business when selling into the Federal Government.
The power of the pen is real
Government contract wins come largely from how well a company writes about itself. Composing clear, informed replies to government requests will make or break your chances of landing your first few contracts.
The number one goal for a vendor is to show an understanding of agency needs when speaking to the request for information (RFI)—the required documentation gathered by the Federal Government to ensure transparency in the business process. Learn more about responding to RFI, requests for quotation (RFQ), requests for pricing (RFP), and best practices for composing convincing bids in Winning Bids & Business: Strategies for Selling into the Federal Government.
Complement, not compete to win more with GWAC
Because GWAC is a type of multi-bid contract, that means your company may bid on one or several task orders that comprise the work federal agencies need. Aside from preparing a superior bid document, several factors will result in better allotment of resources involved in all this documentation.
- Be selective. Only bid on tasks specific to your core competencies.
- Partner with other listed GWAC contract members—”complement, not compete” is a good adage for appropriate relationship building.
- Look for patterns in the type of work agencies request. Contracts play follow the leader—once agencies get a feel for what solutions look like, they tend to request it wherever applicable. Not a coincidence.
- Identify decision-makers and engage them as you would private sector wallet-holders. Look at past contracts for clues; decision-makers must sign off on all official documents.
RainKing helps federal vendors work smarter in achieving positive ends and means at several points in this process.
- Access agency organizational charts and technology installs—important contact information and tach landscape intelligence hidden deep under the bureaucracy. This keeps you out of the phone tree and saves time and frustration.
- Knowing the people involved in writing RFIs and selecting winning bids helps key in your Sales and Marketing Teams by making visible motives, concerns, and goals behind contracts. Use this information to guide your messaging, partnerships, and product offerings.
- Craft relevant content and engage over social networks. RainKing integrates with MAP and CRM applications, so track interactions, treat RFIs as leads, and rank your opportunities with a data-backed methodology.
- Take the same approach to cultivating partnerships within the GWAC as you do federal deciders. Attract, engage, partner, win.
Patience and steady work wins the contract
It is important to keep in mind that all of this takes time. Federal contract work isn’t something you can just dive into. It takes patience and resources to land that first contact—around $150,000 on average according to some counts.
While it takes years to build authority with federal decision-makers, when done correctly it influences contract action towards your company. Now, it is illegal for agencies to engage vendors during the RFI process, but there are no laws preventing your company from staying top-of-mind for the folks doing the planning and spending. This is rarified air—but it is very attainable. It takes the right data, consistent delivery of quality work, and performing due diligence with outreach and engagement of federal decision-makers and partner vendors, so your company has its best foot forward year round.
As evidenced by patterns in federal contact requests that cross the wire, when federal decision-makers know what you deliver, chances are other departments with similar needs will come calling—or, RFI-ing—with you in mind.