Understatement alert: winning government contracts can be a challenge. People that succeed must combine their business savvy with patience, research, and lots and lots of patience. And patience. Did we mention patience?
The government sales cycle itself is a waiting game, but before you even get a chance to play you’ll need to get a few key things done. First and foremost is to register as a government contractor in SAM.gov. But that’s table stakes; the effort that follows requires businesses to match their capabilities with the needs of their target customers. Let’s take a high-level look at what you can expect to encounter on your journey to winning government contracts.
1. Write a Capabilities Statement
When crafting your capability statement, remember three things. First, keep it to one page. Second, explain your business capabilities with clear language that highlights your competitive advantages. And third, supercharge your statement by including business information to attract potential customers. The following five sections should be your focus: Core capabilities; differentiators; past performance; company data; and contact information. It sounds intimidating, but our guide to creating a clear and concise capability statement makes it easy.
There are other must-do tips that seem obvious, but sometimes get ignored. For example, when preparing your document, be sure to include the title “capability statement” so the government procurement team can file it away for easy access later when they need it. Be brief. Contracting officers use capability statements to quickly determine whether your company warrants further market research, but they won’t make any award decisions based on them. That comes later in the process when you’ve finally identified a solicitation you want to pursue. Finally, don’t be afraid to tailor your base capability statement to to target the customer’s specific requirements or the particular product and service lines you’re hoping to promote.
2. Read and review government opportunities
Before you decide to pursue a government contract, make sure you thoroughly review the agency’s requirements regarding technical scope, past performance, price, and the delivery schedule specified in open government opportunities. You’ll want to read as many relevant opportunities as you can, to start getting a feel for how buyers in your target market make purchase decisions and what they value in an offer. In some cases, you may recognize that you cannot comply with the capabilities requested by certain agencies, or in certain industries. In these cases, don’t waste your time drafting a proposal. Move on to the next opportunity.
When you determine that you are able to present an offer that aligns with the customer’s requirements, it’s time to closely review the government’s solicitation documents so you can develop an offer with a strategy that is differentiated from competitors. Time to start digging and writing!
3. Defined target market
The government starts connecting potential solutions with companies during the market research phase of the acquisition lifecycle. This allows contracting officials to better understand industry capabilities, business lines, products/services development, prices, and costs. They reach out to industry by posting a Request for Information, Request for Quotation, and sometimes Source Sought notices through channels like Beta.Sam.gov., GSA Advantage, and eBuy. It is critically important for companies trying to win government contracts to get involved in the market research phase. This allows you to help shape the solicitation that will come out. If you are not involved in the market research, then it is likely another company is shaping the solicitation in their own favor.
Suppliers should understand that establishing business relationships with program and contracting professionals is also key. By attending meetings such as industry days, pre-award conferences, or by communicating through phone calls or email, you can establish your branding with the customer and better understand their market niche. None of this will guarantee that you’ll win contracts, but it gives you critical insight into what goods/services the agency buys and how it buys them. Participating in the market research phase allows you to gradually reduce the larger list of open government opportunities you may compile, allowing you to spend your limited time on solicitations for which you have the best chance to win.
4. Create a GovShop profile
GovShop is a free market research database that matches buyers and suppliers in the public sector. Creating your free GovShop supplier profile puts you in front of thousands of government professionals who visit GovShop for early market research and can help you discover business opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels of government. Purchase a subscription and you’ll be matched with active contract opportunities and solicitations through it’s machine learning algorithms and get access to Public Spend Forum’s open global community.
Want to learn more about what GovShop can do for your government contracting ambitions? Book a time with our customer care team and get started today.