Articles tagged with: Government Sales

5 Goals You Should Have During a Government Debriefing

on Friday, 10 July 2015. Posted in Techniques & Strategies

Government debriefings after a proposal loss can be very valuable to a company if you approach them from the right perspective. Most companies ask for a debriefing with two things in mind. First they hope to somehow magically persuade the contracting officer through a face-to-face meeting that they chose the wrong company and second; they want to fish for information to determine if they should protest. I'm here to tell you that BOTH of those, in most situations, are a bad idea. In fact, requesting a formal debriefing and then using that debriefing as ammunition to protest, can often times hurt your chances of doing business with an organization simply because you can be viewed as a pest. Instead, I suggest you focus on the following five goals:

1. Discover the significant weaknesses and deficiencies in your proposal. Companies often lose an opportunity because of their failure to clearly communicate the value of what they sell and more importantly, they don't map their capabilities directly to what was asked for in the RFP. But that is just one aspect of what you should be looking for. A contracting officer can also discuss how you rank/rate against the other companies, where you appeared strong in the proposal and where they felt you were lacking clarity, past performance, and/or addressed their specific requirements properly.

2. Gather competitive information. One of the most important aspects of a debriefing and also often overlooked is that a debriefing gives you a great opportunity to discover competitive information such as price, product information, past performance, etc. of the winning company. The value of this information is being able to adjust your price and margins to be competitive NEXT time. This will give you valuable insights that will allow you to determine if you can truly be competitive the next time around or if it doesn't make sense for you to pursue this type of work and thus stop wasting valuable time pursuing contracts you can't win. For example, you may learn through the debriefing that your overhead costs are too high and that you have to resolve these issues in order to deliver competitive pricing.

3. Build a stronger relationship with the contracting officer. How you ask for a debrief is very important. Remember that contracting officers are over worked and don't have time for their daily duties, much less handling your debrief. More importantly, whether it's informal or formal, you are ALWAYS being evaluated. How you handle a win is one thing and you will be rated on that, but how you handle a loss is also important. A bad attitude and quoting the FAR will ultimately get the debriefing you asked for, but it may cost you in the long run. Instead, use this time to build a friendly and respectable relationship with the contracting officer. Specific techniques on how to do just that will be discussed in more detail during the webinar this month. To register, Click Here

4. Ask questions. You want to ask reasonable and relevant questions. It's ok to play dumb a bit and fish around like Colombo, but be courteous and respectful and keep it related to this specific opportunity. One simple technique is to start out by saying something along the lines of: "Pardon me if this is dumb question, but......" or "I'm sorry if this question seems obvious, but I'm doing my best to learn from every loss and could use a better understanding about....." Using simple opening phrases like that will give you the opportunity to ask additional questions and build rapport with the contracting officer. Also be sure to use my personal favorite keywords, "Please", "Thank You", and "Could You Help Me?" Those words will get you a lot more information than quoting the FAR ever could.

5. Learn from this loss. How do you capture lessons learned and how do you ensure you're taking these lessons into account in the next proposal? You put a process in place, that's how. Because after all, gathering the intelligence you need is only the first part of the battle. If you really want to win the next battle and ultimately the war, you MUST put concrete processes in place that allow you to roll these lessons learned into every future proposal process. Systems are repeatable and once you establish the right system, wins become repeatable.

A lot goes into understanding the debriefing process, when you can and can't ask for one, how to prep for the debriefing, how to conduct yourself during the debriefing, how to gather lessons learned, and more importantly; how to implement lessons learned into a repeatable win system. The monthly webinar this month will help you answer these questions through specific techniques and strategies. So attend this month's webinar to learn about all of this and much more. To register, Click Here

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Michael LeJeune is a Senior Consultant and the Federal Access Program Manager at RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business-acceleration strategy firm that helps businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to winning government contracts. For more information, videos, and contact information, please visit www.rsmfederal.com

14 Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Teaming on Government Contracts

on Tuesday, 24 June 2014. Posted in Techniques & Strategies, Teaming

One of the first lessons you will learn in government contracting is that most companies win their first contract as a subcontractor to a larger "Prime" contractor. The initial reasoning behind this is that the larger Prime has a track record of past performance, more resources than you, and occasionally has a foot in the door of the client you want to work with. That said, at some point, you will want to be the Prime and you will need to research teaming partners. While this article focuses mainly on you as the Prime, all of these questions are relevant to ask anytime you are approached about teaming in any capacity.

Companies "team" and subcontract with other companies for several reasons. They team to be more competitive. They team to gain access to a specific market, agency, or armed service that they don't have the bandwidth to engage on their own or the business intelligence necessary to be competitive. When looking for a teaming partner, the larger Prime is looking for a company(s) that brings a competitive edge that is not organic to their company. The ideal programmatic teaming strategy helps both companies increase the number of pipeline opportunities and on occasion, enlists their teaming partners to do the lion's-share of the work on a given proposal.

The simple fact is that teaming is a great way to boost your companies opportunities and competitive edge in the marketplace. However, in its simplest form, you're building a relationship. And every relationship deserves some research and due diligence to make sure you are getting as much value from the relationship as possible as well as providing value to your partner.

The following are questions you should ask yourself before teaming on a government contract with a potential partner. Not asking these questions can lead to choosing the wrong partner, wasting valuable time, energy, and resources, as well as ultimately not winning contracts. So take our advice and ask these questions upfront to make sure you have the best teaming strategy possible.

1. Is their website professional? (if not. . . or no website. . . I wouldn't subcontract with them) Their website doesn't have to be the best one you've ever seen. It just needs to be professionally put together and something that you are going to be comfortable sharing with your potential clients. After all, this company is going to be your partner and your clients are going to Google them and look for a website. If their website is not up to your specifications, ask them if they are willing to make some changes. If they say yes and they are willing to make the changes quickly, you may still want to consider them as a partner.

2. Do they have a professional email? (no Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) One of the quickest ways to discover that someone is not serious about their business is to exchange email addresses with them. In this day and age, a domain and email support will cost the average company less than $100 per year, per employee. This is a minor investment that any worthy partner should be making.

3. Size of company? Judgment call - but ensure they have the necessary resources. The last thing you want is to win a contract and not be able to perform the work due to your partner's lack of resources. So make sure they have the staff to do the job you are asking them to do in order to win the contract. This applies to small and large companies. If you are dealing with a small division of a large company, they may not have the resources you need to do the work, but should be able to get the proper resources. In any case, ensure that your partner is able to meet the demand of your contract or easily scale up to meet the requirements.

4. Better Business Bureau? The first thing you do is check to see if they have a rating. If they have a rating, what is it? If they have complaints, were they resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant? They may have several complaints, but this could be normal for their industry. For example, construction companies and auto mechanics often have several complaints. It's the nature of their business. You want to know if the issues are being resolved and if they are in good standing with the BBB. Go to www.bbb.org for more information.

5. Google the company for legal and other financial actions. When you search, use the company's name and the name of the CEO or top leader in conjunction with keywords including "rip-off report" "scams" and "complaints." The reason you search by CEO or the name of the top leader is because scam artists and unethical business folks will often spin-up new companies to create a company with no complaints.

6. LinkedIn Profile? Does the company owner or your point of contact have a profile? Review it. When reviewing a profile, look at their job history, any attachments, publications, and recommendations. This information will not only give you some insights into the company and individual you are speaking with, it will also allow you to get to know them and build your relationship. Last but not least, send a custom invite to connect.

7. Are they responsive? One example, you've contacted them to discuss an opportunity that you've qualified and you've communicated strong differentiation providing competitive advantage. Do they respond to your email and calls the same day or does it take them 48 to 72 hours to respond? Is their response professional? There's an old saying that I like to think of here, "How it begins, is how it ends". If your potential teaming partner isn't responsive in the beginning, you can count on them acting this way at some point during the proposal phase and on award, during contract execution. A lack of responsiveness is a recipe for disaster.

8. Have they provided this service before? (i.e. do they have past performance and expertise?) Specifically ask them for details on similar contracts they've supported during the last three years. When looking at past performance, you want to review case studies or information that relates directly to the potential contract you are looking to bid on. It's not good enough if they did something similar that "should" translate to the work on this new contract. You are looking for relevant and specific information that is a match to your opportunity.

9. Professionalism, Licenses, and Certifications? If the level of support you need them to provide is commonly performed by individuals with specific certifications, how many of their employees that will be subcontracting to you have those certifications or licenses? If just one. . . you'll want to be very detailed when you ask about self-performing in question 10. Make sure that your potential partner can produce the necessary documentation for their licenses or certifications. You typically don't need these upfront, but simply need to ask if they are able to produce documentation upon request for your client.

10. Do they have the personnel and will they self-perform? This is an important question! Many companies don't keep employees "on the bench" where they are non-billable, waiting for the next contract to come in. Are you okay with them signing your subcontracting agreement and then going to Monster or a recruiter to find the labor they need to fulfill the contract? Depending on your products, services, and the market, this may not be something you're willing to risk. So, if you subcontract work to another company because of they have the expertise, then you are assuming they will be using in-house employees to fulfill the contract. If not, you're running a serious risk. No right answer but you want to take this into account.

11. Business insurance and do they need to be bonded? They should have basic business insurance and if you need them to be bonded, double-check and ask them. You don't want a claim from the client and since your subcontractor isn't bonded, your insurance ends up having to pay for it. In this case, your subcontractor is not "sharing the risk" and you will be paying for their mistake or accident when your company has to pay higher rates. In many cases, a simple umbrella policy can cover all the insurance needs on your contract. If your teaming partner does not have this, ask them to purchase it and provide you with the documentation.

12. Would you trust this company to abide by your subcontractor agreement? (e.g. if you told them not to speak with the client other than to perform what you've asked them to. . . can you trust them not to attempt to steal future business?) This is often a gut feeling and will be based on your first few conversations with your partner. You've probably heard the old saying, "Loose lips sink ships". Be aware of the type of information that your partner shares with you in those first few meetings. If they only share relevant information or ask for an NDA to disclose business practices, the odds are that they are trustworthy. However, if they are very open to sharing "confidential" information with you or share too much information (TMI) about projects, you had better beware.

13. Is this Company the best fit for you? When you team with another company, one of the worst things you can do is change your teaming partners after an agreement is signed – so make sure this is the company you want to work with. For subcontracting, once they're onsite, you're stuck with them absent changing your subcontractor(s) in the middle of a project. So when you are evaluating potential teaming partners, it's best to do your research and interview multiple companies. Your mindset should be a long-term relationship and not just your next project. This leads into question 14.

14. What does your gut tell you? Really. I can ask all of these questions, receive solid and positive responses to all of them, and still sense something is wrong. This comes with experience. If you hear alarm bells - don't discount them. At the end of the day, this potential partner has the ability to add to or subtract from your income based on their performance. They also have the ability to help you sleep at night or cause many sleepless nights worrying about them. Take your time and weigh their answers appropriately. And last but not least, if there's something bothering you about the company that you can't put your finger on, why take the risk? Walk away.

If you like this article or have additional feedback or strategies that you would like to share with us and our network, we invite you to leave a comment below. Also check out our Digital Library where you will find additional information on teaming, teaming agreements, and other valuable templates that you can customize and use right away for your business.

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Joshua Frank is a Principal of RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business-acceleration strategy firm that helps businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to winning government contracts. For more information, videos, and contact information on RSM Federal, please visit www.rsmfederal.com   

Selling To The Government - What Does It Take To Be Successful?

on Tuesday, 01 October 2013. Posted in Techniques & Strategies

If you're like most business owners, you've spoken to several non-profits in your local region who are funded in order to help small businesses win government contracts, attended a handful of conferences and expos, paid to watch a couple of webinars, and purchased no less than a dozen books on selling to the government. Yet, a very large number of you have yet to crack the code on how to best position for and win government contracts or increase your government sales.

In 2012, RSM Federal started working with a new client. If you've seen been to www.rsmfederal.com, you know we require ourselves to provide name, title, and company whenever we utilize a quote or client success. But in this example, we don't want to impact their competitive advantage. So for the purpose of this article, we'll call this company Blue Strategies.

When we first started working with Blue Strategies in 2012, they were focused on commercial sales with no understanding of how to sell to the government. Via a referral, I was introduced to Blue Strategies and we immediately starting working together. During the first six months, we completed the following:

     1. Two day onsite government tailored workshop (Accelerated education of the market)
     2. Design and build of government market entry strategy
     3. Communication's strategy
     4. Website update with detailed government landing page
     5. Prospecting plan and follow-up processes
     6. CRM for pipeline management

The above activities included dozens of sub-activities but that's not the focus of today's article. What is important are the results and I want you to pay special attention to how the integration of the above activities were required to achieve success. First we'll identify the results and then we'll discuss how integration of these activities opened new doors and provided competitive advantage. The results:

     1. A two day workshop was tailored specifically to Blue Strategies, its products, and its services.

     2. Built a market penetration strategy (MPS) based on who buys their solutions, how often they buy, and how much they spend. The MPS also included a list of those companies they should consider teaming with based on the prior government contract awards. The strategy included a target list for agencies and partners; how to communicate value, differentiation, and commercial past performance; how to price proposals; how to differentiate their proposal; and other business strategies.

     3. Once the MPS was ready, we spent quite a bit of time creating a prospecting plan that focused on pre-acquisition (before RFPs or RFQs are released).

     4. Developed a new Program to communicate expertise in their market and industry that provided a solid perception of maturity, expertise, and trust.

     5. In 2013, Blue Strategies initiated capture management for government sales. In the first 6 months of their fiscal year, they exceeded their annual quota by 43%. . . and they still have six months to go.

     6. In 2013, Blue Strategies won a contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs, their largest federal contract to date.

     7. In 2013, an incumbent contractor on NASA SEWP IV, one of the largest government wide acquisition contracts (GWAC) invited Blue Strategies to join them as a subcontractor on the SEWP V opportunity, a contract vehicle with more than $5 Billion in contract opportunities.

In little more than six months after initiating the sales process, how did Blue Strategies translate activity into success? So many companies fail to connect the dots and achieve a successful government revenue stream. So how did Blue Strategies do it? The answer lies in education and how that education supported the integration of their business functions.

Unlike most companies, Blue Strategies didn't simply go to a local government non-profit to learn "how to sell" to the government and then respond to every RFP or RFQ they saw on FedBizOpps. This is the reason why so many companies fail to successfully sell to the government. It's not because most companies don't have outstanding solutions. It's because they don't understand the market and are unable to accelerate their activities with proven techniques and strategies. You can't Google this. You have to learn it. Successful companies immerse themselves in learning about the market and picking successful technique and strategies required to differentiate and communicate competitive advantage. In the case of Blue Strategies, what they learned in the workshop (the foundation for everything they learned over the subsequent six months) was integrated into every business function and then cross-mapped between business functions. Blue Strategies' value and the techniques and strategies they utilized were integrated across all public-facing tools and platforms.

Before Blue Strategies took these steps, in 2012, the president of the company set a quota of $300,000 for 2013. That was their goal and it was my responsibility to help them get there. Government was still new and they had yet to start selling to the government. Then in 2013, they initiated capture management and sales. In the first six months, they won more than $430,000 in government contracts. What's even more impressive is that the average contract award was $11,800. While many other companies sell what they sell, the approach to how they communicated differentiation and the value of their solutions was key. This value is outlined and communicated on their capability statement, on the website, in emails, on the phone, and in proposals. It came down to trust and how they communicated the value of their solutions went beyond the financial.

Three months ago, Blue Strategies was contacted by a Contracting Officer in the Midwest who required their solution at a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital. I worked with the Blue Strategies on how to position and win the opportunity. It started with asking the contracting officer how many companies he had reached out to. The answer was three. We asked if there was an incumbent. The answer was yes. We asked for the name of the incumbent. He provided it. Although the incumbent had performed outstanding work, the acquisition strategy did not allow the incumbent to compete for the follow-on contract. We called the incumbent, who was less than thrilled to hear from us. However, we spent several days developing a strategy that proved to be successful. When Blue Strategies contacted the incumbent, they provided a win-win solution that developed into a relationship of trust. Blue Strategies was willing to give up revenue that most companies would fail to consider if it guaranteed an exclusive teaming agreement with the incumbent. The incumbent agreed, the competition lost access to the incumbent, and our client won the contract. In this case, it's less about what you sell and more about how you position with the government and with your teaming partners.

Then last week something happened that became the genesis for today's article. An incumbent contractor, one of only 45 companies that competed for more than $5 Billion in contracts the last seven years, sent them an email. There was one requirement in the statement of work for the upcoming SEWP V contract competition that the incumbent could not support. They reached out to several companies, including Blue Strategies. Why did they contact our client? Because Blue Strategies' website communicated a mature understanding of the federal space. That was the start. That same day, a conference call was scheduled and the very first question Blue Strategies asked was "Are you formally asking us to be a sub-contractor on SEWP V?" Why would you spend several days collecting information and pricing if there's no guarantee the Prime will put you on the team? They said yes. Within 24 hours, the two companies signed a teaming agreement for one of the largest GWACs in the Federal space. The website and how it differentiated Blue Strategies was critical. The ability to communicate in government terms was critical. When they asked Blue Strategies if they had the capability to do the work, the answer was more than yes. . . it was "of course. . . it's very similar to the work we did for the VA last month." It's more than just what you sell. It's how you position, differentiate, and communicate the value provided to your clients. Not necessarily the value of your solutions. It's about communicating actual and perceived maturity as an organization.

There are many companies that understand the basics, attend a few government events and webinars, and still "don't know what they don't know. . ."

The most important thing you can do is educate yourself beyond the common "How to do business with the government." The basics of selling to the government are provided by several dozen organizations, many of which are free services. They all provide outstanding value and I recommend they be your starting point. But selling to the government and giving yourself a higher than average chance for success, requires more than a basic understanding. This is not unique to government sales. Education is a common business paradigm regardless of market or industry. It requires immersion and utilization of proven techniques and strategies that are integrated across business functions. It starts with the owner. It comes down to business acumen. If you become a student of government sales, you're likelihood of winning a government contract will be much higher. When you wonder how a specific company became successful. . . now you know.

Did this article pique your interest? Yes? What are your next steps? 

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Joshua P. Frank is Principal and owner of RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business-acceleration strategy firm that represents small and large businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to win government contracts. For more information and videos about RSM Federal, please visit www.rsmfederal.com   

Proposal Screening and Pricing

on Thursday, 11 April 2013. Posted in Teaming

Are You Talking To A Potential Competitor?

Most businesses understand the basics of being a Prime or a Subcontractor when responding to a government Request For Proposal (RFP) or Request For Quote (RFQ).  As prime, you submit the proposal and if awarded, your company receives the award.  You may have one or more companies (subcontractors) who work for you on the project.  As a subcontractor, you are a member of a team and work for the prime who is awarded the contract.  Most companies understand the basics.

Two weeks ago, I was on a conference call with a media organization that provides federal radio advertising on government radio stations.  What transpired was troubling and while it was legal, it was highly unethical. More important, the situation discussed below educated the prime on what questions you must ask other companies when you obtain pricing.

RSM Federal is on a team responding to a federal agency RFP. Because the RFP requires purchase of radio ads on specific radio stations, every company responding to the RFP had to call the radio station to get pricing. To broaden this concept, if it were a technology RFP, you might call Oracle to get pricing on a database license; or if the RFP asks for kitchen exhaust hoods in addition to cleaning services, you may provide the hoods, but you may need to subcontract to a cleaning company and obtain pricing for their cleaning detergents.  In this case, it's obtaining pricing for on-air time slots.  Our team is a strategic marketing  and advertising team - not a radio station. Every company that wants to respond to the RFP has to call the station for pricing.

This led to a conference call. Throughout the call, the employee for the radio station was answering questions but didn't seem to be providing complete answers. It felt as if she were holding back information. So I asked the following questions:

  1. Are you providing the same pricing to every company that calls you and if not, how do we obtain preferred pricing?
  2. Are you, as a radio station planning to subcontract or prime this opportunity?
  3. If you are planning to prime, is our team obtaining the same or better pricing?
  4. If you are planning to prime, are you running a screen?

She would not confirm that they were providing the same pricing to all companies or if there was preferred pricing. When asked directly, she confirmed that the radio station was in fact planning to respond to the RFP as a prime.  Finally, she would not verify if the pricing given to our team was competitive (the same) as what the radio station was going to quote themselves. In other words, the radio station was providing pricing to various teams but it was likely that the pricing in their own proposal would be less expensive than what they were giving to us. Furthermore, now that we knew they were responding to the proposal AND providing pricing to other teams, we asked if they were running a screen.  They refused to answer the question.

What is a screen? When a company plans on responding to an RFP as the prime (submitting a proposal directly to the government) and as a subcontractor (supporting pricing, requirements, manpower, etc.) to another company, ethics require that the company employ a screen. In the case of this radio station, they should have two teams that do NOT communicate between themselves on the specifics of the RFP. This ensures that the services being provided and the costs of those services are not being communicated between the internal teams.  Again, not illegal - but full of unethical possibilities.  Here's what can happen: Let's assume you are the prime and you ask for pricing on a ten second radio slot and get $85.  Now you have to add a margin so let's assume your bid to the government is $90. Without a screen, the radio station that just gave you a price of $85 recognizes that you are going to add a margin.  Then they bid $75 directly to the government.  You're at $90 and they are at $75. This is legal.  But it's highly unethical and this situation can be prevented by asking the questions above before pricing is discussed.

And here is what we left out - during the call, our team discussed proposal strategy, assuming that the radio station was not a prime. The alarm bells didn't start going off until after we had discussed our strategy. So we had given another company, our competition, a competitive advantage without realizing it. The team had assumed that since the opportunity was a 100% small business set-aside, that the radio station would not desire and could not respond as a prime.  Bad assumption.

While not legally a subcontractor, by obtaining pricing from the radio station, they are a de-facto subcontractor because those parts of the RFP are being subcontracted to another company. . . the radio station. There are no none disclosures or teaming agreements - just pricing.

Our team identified ways to compensate for this and updated our pricing accordingly.  We're currently in source selection.  Whether our team wins or loses, we'll provide an update to this article.

Every government acquisition is different.  For many companies, responding to an RFP may not require products, services, and pricing from another company. This situation is a bit more unusual because the government specifically identified a radio station by name in the RFP. We had to get pricing from them.

To recap the lessons learned: If you have to get pricing for products or services from another company, before you discuss the opportunity, you must first verify their intent. Are they providing pricing to other teams? Are they a sub-contractor on another team? Are they intending to prime? Also, depending on the answers, are they running a screen? This provides your company or team with confidence that all parties are being ethical.  Regardless of running a screen, are they being consistent with their pricing and if not, to what extent? In certain situations, you may decide not to bid because it may be too difficult to achieve competitive pricing.

RSM Federal specializes in these and other small business government teaming and sales strategies.  For more information, please visit www.rsmfederal.com or call us at (703) 677-1700.

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Joshua P. Frank is Principal and owner of RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business-acceleration strategy firm that represents small and large businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to win government contracts. For more information and videos about RSM Federal, please visit www.rsmfederal.com 

Sequestration

on Friday, 08 March 2013. Posted in Sequestration

How will sequestration impact small business?

There is a universal fear across the small business community that Sequestration will be catastrophic to small business owners. Yes, it will be catastrophic to some but to others the challenge will be sustainment and even growth. To understand the impact of sequestration, you have to first understand why some companies succeed selling to the government and why others fail.

Let's use GSA Schedule holders as an example.  You don't need a schedule to win government contracts, but GSA Schedule holders are a microcosm of government vendors. Today, there are approximately 22,000 companies with a schedule of which 10,000 have failed to meet the $25,000 minimum annual sales threshold.  That's almost half of all GSA Schedule holders (47%). For the 10,000 that failed to meet the minimum sales threshold, 7,000 failed to make a single penny.

Before we can answer the impact of sequestration on small business, we need to ask why half of all companies fail to sell to the government.  Many of these companies have been attempting to sell to the government for years. So why have they failed when others succeeded?

Companies that succeed have educated themselves. They educate themselves on the market by teaming with other companies to gain perspective, experience, and access to marketing and proposal templates. Working with companies that have successfully sold to the government is as valuable as any activity a company can undertake. Successful companies never stop educating and improving their business development strategies. They register for government newsletters and blogs, pay attention to what is happening in Congress, and keep their finger on the pulse of the budgets and programs of the federal agencies and Defense organizations identified as their primary targets.

Successful companies also have a well defined market penetration strategy. They recognize their strengths and weaknesses. They don't believe their own press releases. They only go after opportunities which fall within their core competencies and they have a documented process to qualify opportunities before engaging them. Less successful companies go after everything hoping to win something. Education is not only understanding the market but learning the techniques and strategies to properly differentiate, ghost the weaknesses of the competition, and building competitve advantage. Most important, successful companies are not afraid of picking up the phone and calling, over and over and over again, until they get the government contracting officer or program manager on the phone.

So regardless of the Sequester, This is why fifty percent of companies fail to successfully sell to the federal governmnent. It's not because they have inferior products or services. It's an issue of education. It's that simple. . . and that difficult.

The 2013 federal proposed budget is $3.8 trillion with $1.2 trillion for appropriated programs and $2.5 trillion in mandatory programs for programs such as medicare, medicaid and social security. Half of the approporiated funds, $613.5 billion, is the Department of Defense's proposed budget. The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires that 23% of federal spending be made with small business. That's $149 billion from appropriated funds, not including Defense and another $141 billlion with Defense for a total of $290 billion in small business set-asides in 2013 or more than $790 million a day.

Without sequestration, the Department of Defense's proposed budget equates to $1.4 billion in spend per day. What many don't realize is that the $1.2 trillion in sequestration takes place over ten years so sequestration drops 2013's proposed budget from $1.4B to $1.2B per day. Under sequestation, small business set asides will be more than $100 Billion in 2013.  

That's a lot of money for small businesses. Using GSA Schedule holders as a microcosm for federal contractors, the 53% of federal contractors that successfully sold to the government in 2012 will take advantage of the 47% that haven't cracked the code. 

These facts speak for themselves. Small businesses must accelerate their understanding of the federal market and implement proven techniques and strategies to sustain and grow in this budget constrained environment.

Sequestration is not catostrophic for small business.  Regardless of its name, sequestration is simply a smaller budget. If your company understands the market, has a strong capture strategy, and is teaming with other successful federal contractors, there is plenty of money to be made. The 53% will sustain and yes, they will grow.

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Joshua P. Frank is Principal and owner of RSM Federal, a federal consulting and business-acceleration strategy firm that represents small and large businesses in accelerating the education and processes necessary to win government contracts. For more information and videos about RSM Federal, please visit www.rsmfederal.com

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