Reaching Your Buyers

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Federal Opportunity Databases & Feeders

in Bidding Basics, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe Leave a comment

We are all looking for ways to get ahead of the RFP and not be reactive to bids and opportunity databases can help us know what contracts are expiring and give us enough time to get in front of the key decision makers often a year or two in advance of the recompete. Recently I have been having a lot of discussions with folks who are looking into the opportunity databases like Deltek (now GovWin), Centurion and Bloomberg.

This is important because without some pre-proposal insight, it is often too late to have any influence or really understand the requirement fully once the opportunity hits the street. We have a rule around here, if we didn’t influence the scope, somebody else did. Sometimes that is the incumbent, sometimes it is a new player and if you have some connectivity beforehand, you can be that new player. The key is to focus on the people with decision making authority and influence.

Several of our clients have databases and monitor for opportunities. Here is the main issue they find… all of the databases concentrate on opportunities that are $500k and above AND once it hits the database radar, they let everyone know and because of the threshold. Now the big boys are paying attention and those big boys are well entrenched and have a lot more resources than most of my clients. This does not excite me.

Whenever I use any kind of analysis tool I like to look at what I call “feeders”. Using construction as an example, look at the food chain of a construction project. It starts with planning, surveying and permitting – then architects and environmental engineers – then GC’s and specialty trades – then maintenance and grounds keeping. The person responsible for the build is often the same person who starts the planning and permitting. Get to them and you not only know of an opportunity way before everyone else, you can often influence the next phase of the process.

This works in almost all industries. A few years ago we began doing market research for clients to find the “under the radar” contracts and contacts associated with those contracts. It was a pretty cool expedition and we learned a whole lot in the process. We did research for industrial battery company and used pallets as a feeder because if a customer has pallets, they need a fork lift and half of the forklifts use batteries. This gave us hundreds of buyers that would never show up on FBO or even the individual agency monitoring sites.

If you want to see how it works, you can find samples here:

Market Essentials Overview Video

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

Now, this is a different approach than a bid database because it revolves around people instead of opportunities. If you know who the people are, then you proactively go after those buyers and PMs as you would any strategic account. A byproduct of this approach is identifying the firms/primes that are winning. Who could possibly be a better referral source than the federal buyer or PM who refers you to the company PM? It is a beautiful thing when you bypass all the vendor databases and get to the PM of the prime for the project. At least you have the chance to be on the short list…

What I like most is identifying the key contacts of the competitors so I can target them directly. Since most of the accounts are at risk at some point, being in front of the right people makes all the difference.

Federal Buyer Survey

in Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe 1 Comment


       
Federal Buyer Survey

There are many things that affect the federal sales process. Tell us what you think of federal buyers and we will review the answers in our "How To Go Federal" Webinar series every 2nd Tuesday. We break these down so we can help you get to key decision makers and influence the process.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
After you submit you will be directed to a registration page for the  "How To Go Federal" webinar series where we will be reviewing the results.  For additional information, visit www.isifederal.com.

Disaster Preparedness and Recovery

in Agency Focus, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe Leave a comment

Last Friday, a storm blew through Maryland with 80 mile an hour winds and several inches of rain.  Unlike any storm I have seen, the lighting was almost constant and the trees were being bent and twisted so much so that we lost several stout oak trees and branches were strewn all over the place.  At about 11PM last Friday the power went down.  The next day we saw the damage and it looked like a warzone.  We have 5 poles down in different places so we can probably expect another several days of running on generator power just to keep the freezer cold.

Governor O’Malley has requested federal assistance for this event.  This is a step short of Katrina where FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) was called in to help with the emergency. Now, FEMA is an interesting agency.  They spend money quickly with pre-registered companies that provide specific services.

How can you tap into FEMA spending?

FEMA wants to know about you so make sure you visit [Link Updated: Doing Business with FEMA] and follow the instructions to register your company. If you provide Debris Removal you can register with the Debris Removal Contractor Registry https://asd.fema.gov/inter/drcr/home.htm.

Registering your company is important because FEMA responds to emergencies like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural and man-made disasters. If your company is known before the event happens, you will be in position to jump on an opportunity when the federal government is called on for disaster relief.

Pre-disaster registration is mandatory.  Just as important is pre-marketing your product and service offerings to buyers.  isiFederal can help you find and reach key decision makers before they start spending the money.  Companies that are known before the opportunity is posted are 5 times more likely to win.

By the way…

FEMA is an agency just like other agencies. FEMA’s published opportunities can be found at “New and Existing” but don’t stop there. FEMA is a DHS agency so there are many opportunities within DHS for you as well. Visit for details on doing business with DHS where you will find a link to the DHS forecast for DHS and all the sub agencies.

Contracting Officers – Know Your Customer

in Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by isiFederal Leave a comment

Make it easy

Contracting officers are busy people. One thing all procurement people look for is an easy way to fulfill the obligations of the contract. If you don’t have a contract vehicle, that means a ton of work for the contracting officer. There are exceptions to this rule like an emergency contract or sole source for a unique offering but most of the time contracting officers will make it difficult to move through procurement, even if you have a strong relationship with an advocate. Read more

Finding Less Competition in Federal Opportunities

in Bidding Basics, Federal Contracting, Managing Your Proposal, Reaching Your Buyers by isiFederal 2 Comments

I was looking through a recent construction association magazine about how bidding competition is off the charts in just about every construction field. Construction companies that were up against 4 or 5 bidders two years ago are now bidding against 25, 30 even 50 competitors today. Some of the construction folks I met with last week are seeing larger competitors try to make up for lost revenues by competing in new or smaller markets.

85% of federal opportunities have less than 4 competitors…

We recently compiled a federal intelligence report for our utility construction client located on the east coast… Over the past two years $3.9 Billion was spent with contractors on various forms of utility construction for the federal government and ¼ of the opportunities had only ONE response. 85% of the 11657 of the contracts awarded had less than 4 responses. That’s $2.7 B in awards that had less than 4 competitors.

Big successes for Small Businesses…

The largest “Small Business” contract discovered through intelligence was awarded in November of 2009 for a water and sewer project in New Orleans. The contract was won by Pennsylvania’s DV & Associates $31,186,659.20 and – get this – they are being paid in progress payments for percentage of completion. This helps offset bonding requirements and keep cash flow high. Even in this opportunity – only 9 offers were received.

Road and Roof Construction from Virginia landed over $25M in bite size chunks averaging $46k per job. TP Enterprises, Inc from Oklahoma won $14.5M, Sabre Communications Corp out of Iowa banked over $4.2M and has seven more zero dollar contracts that will help them minimize their competition over the next several years. This is great work at a great time and with minimal competition, is absolutely winnable.

More information from this Construction Intelligence:

  • Federal spending spikes 350% in September
  • Average contract size for utility work $413k
  • 395 contracts for $321M were solicited to Small Businesses and No Responses were received
  • 1569 contracts for $228M were solicited to Disadvantaged Businesses and No responses
  • 1308 contracts for $556M were not solicited to Small Disadvantaged Business because the contracting officer didn’t know of one.

Dispelling the Federal Myth…

True, the federal space is confusing and time consuming. That is no different than when you got into business in the first place. There are three things you need to make your federal strategy successful:

1) If you rethink your timetable for return on investment. Turn your 1 year goal into a 3 year goal.

2) Find out what works. If other companies in your space are doing it, you can too. Learn how they are doing it and do what they do.

3) Build relationships with the right people. People buy from people, even in the government, and relationships trump check boxes every single time. That is how the big boys win and how the small businesses explode. Triple Canopy started in 2003 and have since sold over $1B to the government.

4) Understand the procurement process. Every agency is different, every sub agency has its nuances, and every person has their own buying motives.

5) Dedicate resources. You need to be face to face with decision makers.

Want to get smart about your federal market?

“Last year I was looking for ways to find high probability targets. isiFederal provided exactly what we needed and now we are gaining access to opportunities that we would never have seen. The fact that they are in DC every day make all the difference in building relationships at the right level.”

Brendan Skelly, President LINQ Services, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Initial Intelligence $299

This is our most introductory report. It will answer the underlying question of most business owners… Is there my kind of work out there? We can tell you for sure if there is enough activity for your offerings before you spend thousands trying to find it.

  • Find out where the federal market is for your services
  • Competition and Award report for your product or service offering
  • Identify Top Purchasing Agencies that are spending money now

Contact and Competitive Intelligence $3,000.00 Click here for Sample Excel.

This is our most popular report because it gives you competitive information and contact information –including e-mails – for who is responsible for spending the money. If you want to be considered for business in September, you need to be in front of federal decision makers by the end of July.

  • Identify Purchasing Agencies currently using your products and services
  • Identify and Verify Contracting Officers (with contact information)
  • Complete list of all competitors, who bought from them and how much they got paid
  • Identify Top Purchasing Agencies
  • Identify Top Contracting Offices
  • Identify Top NAICS
  • Breakdown by PSC
  • Action plan for pursuit

*This report takes 12 business days to complete.

Get your Federal Strategy started. Call 888-9-GET-isi.

Happy New Year!!!

in Federal Business News, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers by isiFederal Leave a comment

And it is indeed a happy new year for federal contractors who were positioned to pounce on “Use it or Lose it” spending. While weexecuted a last minute proposal for $525k that was chump change in the grand scheme of things.

In fact, 49,199 contracts were awarded in the last 10 days for $6,452,379,288.03 and we still have until 11:59pm. With an average of $131,148.59 per contract, there more than are a few party poppers going off right now. The best part is many of these contracts are only partially funded, that means even more funds coming on these fine wins over the next few months.

FY2011 is looking like another banner year for federal contracting with significant opportunity in construction, facilities management, Information Technology, cloud computing and security. Other areas that will be gaining steam are telecom, furniture and supply.

Hot Initiatives for 2011

Green- LEEDs certification, energy savings and alternative energy sources will be huge in 2011. Read GSA announcement here. If you haven’t embraced green technologies, you had better get on board. Make sure your GSA schedule is up to date with new technologies.

Emergency Response- With the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 approaching, hurricanes, blizzards and earthquakes, emergency response and preparation will be a key focus of expenditures in 2011. Make sure you have registered with FEMA’s contracting registry, click here https://www.fema.gov/doing-business-fema.

In-sourcing- The pendulum has swung firmly into government labor growth. That means anything to do with people in buildings is growing. Staffing agencies, furniture, phones, computers, software, security and office supplies are going to increase significantly in 2011.

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