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GSA OASIS Roundtable

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by David Lowe Leave a comment

 

Friday March 29th 2013, GSA released the much anticipated OASIS (One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services) Draft RFP.  The files can be downloaded directly from FBO:

OASIS_RFI Full and Open w/50% Small Business Comittment

OASIS_SB_RFI 100% Small Business Set-Aside

Response Date:  Apr 29, 2013 11:59 pm Eastern

Thursday 4/11 at 1PM EST there will be a roundtable session to develop industry comments that are due by 4/29.  This contract will be segmented into “pools” responses graded on core disciplines (functional areas).  Some of these requirements are pretty challenging for small businesses but that doesn’t mean shy away, it means make sure you have your ducks in a row and you respond professionally and meet all the mandatory requirements. 

Join the panel of leading proposal development, capture management and federal sales experts as they:

1) Market potential by pool
2) Review the core requirements of each pool
3) Discuss qualifications necessary to compete for your pool
4) Identify key areas of concern
5) Develop your proactive proposal response strategy

Determine how you can best compete for this opportunity and how you can best position your company.

 

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Making sense of Federal Alphabet SEWP

in Agency Focus, Federal Contracting by David Lowe 1 Comment

When you start diving into selling to the federal government you are immediately confronted with funky acronyms- and they never stop!  It’s almost as if you have to develop an acronym to be considered a real program.

Some of them are pretty funny too like the irony of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration being NOAA (pronounced Noah).  Nasa’s SEWP (pronounced soup) stands for Solutions for Enterprise Wide Procurement and to enhance the funny punny, they added Business Operations and Workstation Laboratory (BOWL).  How about the IBOM aka Ionizing Brownout Mitigation System or the abbreviation for National Museum of American History – NMAH (pronounced enema).  One of my favorites is the RHQDAPU – Reporting Hospital Quality Data for Annual Payment Update pronounced rack-da-poo.

GSA has a list of most used procurement acronyms so you can familiarize yourself with them.  In the meantime here are a few of the most common procurement acronyms…

BPA- Blanket Purchase Agreement

IDIQ- Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity

POC-  Point of Contact

CO- Contracting Officer

BOA- Basis of Award

If you have a favorite, leave a comments with yours!

Not to be outdone or left behind, we here at isiFederal have a few of our own…

Isi- Integrated Solutions Initiative (sounds government-esk right?)

LIMRIC™- Leverage (relationships), Influence (the process), Monitor (for winnable opportunities), Respond, Improve, Capture

The acronym I know of and my very favorite is WIN. That stands for WIN.  Pronounced WIN, aka in your face, oh yeah baby, success and show me the money!  (Couldn’t resist) Seriously, agree that WIN is your favorite acronym and you want to get in or enhance your federal sales, call 888-9-GET-isi.

Identify Your REAL Position

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting by David Lowe Leave a comment

Have you read Strategic Selling by Miller Heiman?  This book and process helps you understand complex sales and how to gauge your position in an account. By using red flags for everything that you don’t know, you can gain insight on how to move your company into a better position in a given opportunity.  Whether you use Strategic Selling or some other method, make sure you are honest with yourself about your position. Here are a few questions to answer…

1) Have you identified all of the influencers?

2) What do each of the influencers think of your solution?

3) Which influencer favors your competition?

4) Have you provided information that is appearing in the scope?

Important– As you start to analyze your position, be honest about the holes, otherwise you will probably fall into one. Don’t ignore anything that is a potential negative. If you are honest with yourself, you will be much more capable of adjusting your approach or deciding whether you should even bid at all.

Getting Ahead of the RFP

in Bidding Basics, Federal Contracting, Managing Your Proposal, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe Leave a comment

Positioning for an opportunity starts months, sometimes years before an opportunity reaches the RFP stage.  By the time something hits Fed Biz Ops, it is too late.  You need to be in front of the right people with the right message early so they know you are serious about competing for the business.  There are a few rules to follow when deciding to chase an opportunity:

Rule#1- If you didn’t influence the RFP, someone else did.

Rule#2- The larger the opportunity, the more influence you need.  Be realistic about what you can win right now.  Plan for competing for the larger contracts as you gain traction in an agency and have the connetivilty to affect the scope, requirements and certifications.

Rule#3- Cover as many of the decision makers as you can.  Unlike commercial procurement, in most instances there are 3 key decision makers in each opportunity.

Contracting Officer– Job is to procure

Project Manager– Responsible for assembling requirements

Technical Representative– Responsible for bridging the gap with requirements and contracting.   Every one of these people have different roles and different buying motives .  Make sure your message is tailored appropriately.

GSA is looking for comments on Green Building Certifications

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by David Lowe Leave a comment

For those who are in the Green Business… The GSA is looking for comments on Green Building Certifications. Here is the link:

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/05/2013-02408/sequence-24-findings-of-the-eisa-436h-ad-hoc-review-group-on-green-building-certification-systems?goback=%2Egmp_2669591%2Egde_2669591_member_222434245 , on the right side of the page there is a “Submit a Formal Comment” button.

Green initiatives cover just about every area of federal government and almost any technology or service can apply to green solutions if you position them correctly. Certifications like this are often used to help minimize the competition by requiring them in the SOW. We will likely discuss this next Tuesday when I host the Driving GSA Sales webinar. Here is a link for that too: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/697858502

3 Ways to Leverage Sequestration

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe Leave a comment

Unless you are living under a rather large rock, you have been pummeled with sequestration hype. Here is the thing… The Federal government is not closing down and even with cuts, this coming summer and especially September will likely be a record setting months for GSA sales. Why? Think about it. Say they need to cut 5% of their budget… They have been holding back spending for the past 5 months and likely to hold for a couple more. 8 months of no spending means when May and June agencies are going to start realizing they have some catching up to do.

You CAN maximize your exposure right now…

1) Find and pursue new buyers. There are 85,000 buyers within 492 federal agencies. Chances are the ones that buy what you sell are currently piling up requirements waiting for money. Why not take this opportunity to identify and introduce your company to them? Here is a video and links on how we do it.

Marketing Essentials Video

Federal Marketing Essentials – SAMPLE

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL

2) Do a Marketing Makeover. Start with your capabilities by creating a tight, easy to read one pager. Then, update your website to include a federal landing page so you can direct people right to your federal information (including your schedule).

3) Update your GSA offerings on GSAadvantage. Most GSA schedule holders put stuff on GSA and just leave it there. Make sure you have the right new products and services listed so they can find you when they are ready to buy.

Remember, September is coming and so is a windfall of spending. People buy from people they like. They can’t like you if they don’t know you. Dedicate resources for going after some of the most important people in your federal market. Chances are your competition is not being proactive so this can be a huge competitive advantage for you

Countdown to September

in Federal Contracting by David Lowe Leave a comment

Countdown.jpg

September, 30 2013 is a Monday and at 11:59PM Hawaiian time, the last order against the 2013 budget will be placed. Why are we talking about this now? Because if you are not positioning yourself for this day right now, you will miss out.

You need to have your company in front of key decision makers regularly (that means at least once a month) from now until the end of September if you want a shot at new opportunities. Don’t believe the hype either, there will be spending and if the trending stays consistent with past years, this year will be another record breaker.

How is that with sequestration? Think about it. The feds have all be guarding their budget spending for the past 5 months. Spending has been down significantly and even with the cuts, they will have to make up ground as we get further through the year. This is why positioning your company with new buyers is so critical to your federal success.

What you can do right now…

1)      Get Smart about your market.  isiFederal’s Federal Marketing Essentials package provides you with what you need to know where your market is and who is buying what you sell.

2)      Develop a strategy around your market.

  1. Prioritize your approach based on your Marketing essentials.
  2. Dedicate resources for pursuit
  3. Identify gaps
  4. Budget for success

3)      Go Get It. Get your message out to the people responsible for buying what you sell using our LIMRIC™ Process.

Leverage relationships

Influence the decision making process

Monitor for Winnable opportunities

Respond

Improve your response

Capture WINS!

 

isiFederal can help you start or grow your federal business.  Call 888-9-GET-isi now so you can capture business this September!

The Right Message

in Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe 1 Comment

The message that sells, specifically – your message that sells – needs to be formulated around your customer. This is critical because a lot of buyers, especially contracting officers really don’t care how good you are at what you do. A key way to get your message across is in your capabilities statements.

I recommend two, customizable capabilities:

1) 1 page with bullet points. This doesn’t have to be sexy, it needs to be functional. Make sure all off your contact AND contract information is on there. 3 bullet points that will resonate with that agency (look at their initiatives and your competitor’s info).

Sample Federal Capabilities

2) A multiple pager with past performance and sample SOW’s. Do this right and your communication may turn into a completely baked (that means your words copied and pasted into an RFP) opportunity.

Do this right and you will win. Do it wrong and you will waste a ton of money and time plus your competition will be banking your tax money. Now, if that doesn’t motivate you…

Dynamic Webinars

in Federal Contracting, Resources, Webinars & Events by David Lowe Leave a comment

You know, sometimes something just flat works and this past month I was involved in two of the best webinars ever…

The first was a super smash with Mr. Breakthrough Umar Hameed where we dove into what inhibits our federal sales concentrating on our belief structure and what we unknowingly project to our prospects. I love this stuff because it deals with our thinking and how government worker stereotypes (like the DMV workers) infect our ability to build and maintain rapport.

Driving GSA Sales – February 2013

The second was with Driving GSA Sales webinar series where we revealed some of our secret sauce – Executive and Procurement Briefings. The success of this process often results in new opportunities and getting in BEFORE it hits the street – and maybe even keep it from hitting the street at all!

How To Go Federal – February 2012

Come and join the fun!

  • Reaching      Key Decision Makers
  • Building      Rapport
  • Delivering      Your Value Proposition
  • Influencing      the Scope

For GSA Schedule holders (every 3rd Tuesday at 11am EST)

Driving GSA Sales 2013

For Everyone (Every 2nd Tuesday at 11am EST)

How To Go Federal Webinar Series

 

Establishing Effective KPI’s

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe Leave a comment

The federal space is a long term sales cycle and it will take time and dedicated effort to reach your sales goals. You need to know what success looks like before you start making money in your expansion efforts. Let’s say your isiFederal intelligence reveals 500 buyers for what you sell. Our goal is usually 15% dialog within 60 days and 20-25% dialog within 6 months. This means conversations with 125-150 people responsible for purchasing what you sell. These contacts will range from unsellable (in tight with your competition) to HOT. All of them can be your customers if you have the right message at the right time.

BD Key Performance Indicators

1) Introduction e-mails sent

a. Positive responses
b. Negative responses

c. Bounced

2) Follow-up

a. Calls per hour
b. Decision Makers Reached per Day

c. Follow-up Meetings Set per Day

3) Follow-up E-mails sent

a. Capabilities
b. Pricing

c. Sample SOW

4) Initial Meeting/Conference Call

a. Upcoming opportunities
b. Recent

c. Missed/Long Range Opportunities

5) Follow-up touches (every 21-30 days)

a. E-mails sent
b. Decision Makers Reached per Day

c. Meetings Set per Day

6) Opportunities

a. HOT (immediate)
b. High potential (next 180 days)
c. Mid-Range (Next 18 months)
d. Long Range (More than 18 months)
e. Outside Core
i. Partner to capture
ii. Refer to competent non-competitor

7) Influence Scope

8) Pre-Proposal

9) Proposals

10) Wins

It’s All About The Right People…

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe Leave a comment

No matter what, if you want to be successful, you better be in front of the right people at the right time with the right message. Embedded in this statement are all the components of your federal strategy. Most federal contractors know a few of the right people but have no idea how to identify people outside of their current circle of influence. Your strategy needs to start with finding more of “the right people”. I cannot stress more the importance of the target rich environment and since the feds buy everything, there are hundreds, maybe even a thousand buyers with budget and needs for what you sell right now.

Sure there are initiatives and forecasts released by the agencies every single year but they are only a fraction of the total spend and have full exposure to everyone on the planet. Plus, most of the big initiatives have been influenced by the most formidable competitors with relationships and political connections that are impenetrable. Your job is to find “the right people” under the radar of the big boys.

So far I haven’t found a better way than looking at the historical data. Why? Because power in DC is based on budget and if they had budget last year they will protect it for this year. More importantly, whoever spent the money on your services last year is most likely to be spending the money this year.

Three ways to find “the right people”:

1) Look at your competition. If they are doing it, so can you. How much is GSA? How much is another vehicle? Who are their contacts? How are they procured? Not just Sole source, BPA, 8(a), SDVOSB etc, but what NAICS and PSC are they using?

2) Look at the whole market. If you look at the entire market you will probably find competitors that you never thought you had because they are in places you never knew existed and are putting millions into their bank accounts that could be in yours.

3) Look for your sweet spot. Chances are your sweet spot in expansion in a new federal market (that means anything outside your current influence) will be about half of your average sale AND under $750k. Interestingly enough, this is under the radar for most of the big boys so they don’t even care to pay attention. Get to $1.5M and you have entered the realm of serious, formidable competition.

Now, you can spend 3-4 months on GSAadvantage and a host of other government sites looking for this information but you need it NOW if you are going to be able to make a dent in this year’s sales efforts. In most instances we can provide you what you need in three weeks for three grand. Take a look at the sample Marketing Essentials Intelligence here:

Market Intelligence Overview Video- 3 Min 44 Sec

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

 

Sequestration

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Business News, Federal Contracting, News, Policy Impact by David Lowe Leave a comment

If I have talked about sequestration once over the past few days, it has been a hundred times. Everyone–workers, contractors, politicians–is asking what I think is going to happen. Of course, I have no idea. But since I don’t think anyone inside the beltway has the ability to think rationally or use common sense, I simply choose to look past whatever is going to happen and choose to plan for taking market share from those who panic.

I think we can be pretty certain…

  1. The federal government is not going to fold. If that happens, it won’t matter who has what contract anyway.
  2. Spending will happen again.
  3. They will buy what you sell.

So, Plan.

  • Plan to take advantage of companies that don’t plan.
  • Plan to take advantage of companies on the fringe that might not be able to weather a storm.
  • Plan to take advantage of a lull and build relationships with your competitors’ best contacts.

 

How? Find your competitors contacts and go get them. You know, this concept really shouldn’t change whether business is good or business is bad. It is just extra effective if you keep your head during troubling times when you position yourself as a qualified and ultimately pancake your panicking competitors.

Don’t know who is buying what you sell? Click here for a 4 minute sample of how you can find out.

Market Essentials Overview Video

Federal Marketing Essentials – SAMPLE

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL

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. Check out how you can find the projects in your sweet spot.

Myth: If I monitor my primary NAICS I will find winnable opportunities.

in Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe 1 Comment

We have been working through the sample intelligence, to download, click the following links:

Market Intelligence Overview Video- 3 Min 44 Sec

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

So, you are monitoring NAICS for your company right?  Well, it is a virtual certainty that you are missing some really lucrative opportunities.  Let’s look at the top NAICS codes for tactical gear and see where it shows up…

336992 MILITARY ARMORED VEHICLE, TANK, AND TANK COMPONENT MANUFACTURING

315999 OTHER APPAREL ACCESSORIES AND OTHER APPAREL MANUFACTURING

922120 POLICE PROTECTION

Most tactical gear folks don’t even look at 336992 because they are not thinking of where the gear is being used. Also, take a look at 315999- this is an “other” category and there are several that are important in the tactical gear space. Take a look at the Excel file and click the “NAICS” tab. You will see that all three of these NAICS account for about 51% of the total spend ($5 Billion) but only 25% of the number of contracts.

This means that the other $5 Billion is split between 453 other NAICS codes like $58 Million in 561210 FACILITIES SUPPORT SERVICES and $27 Million in 315211 MEN’S AND BOYS’ CUT AND SEW APPAREL CONTRACTORS and most of these are less than $150k per contract. Now that is a sweet spot!   How and why does this happen? It happens either because the contracting officer doesn’t know what to do with the opportunity or he/she has a preferred vendor and doesn’t want 25 responses (especially for smaller projects). Either way, it is benefitting a select few federal vendors and you are not one of them.   NAICS anomalies happen in every area of the federal government in every industry because it helps minimize the competition. Your best customer doesn’t want 25 responses any more than you want 25 competitors. Take a look at your competition (see pages 56, 60, 67 for their NAICS wins) and then you can understand how you can do it too!   NAICS Myth: BUSTED

 

Myth: There is too much competition in the federal market

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

Well, if you are only considering the 4.5% of opportunities that hit FedBizOpps, you are correct. However, the rest of the 2.6 million contracts tell a significantly different story…

Take a moment to view the video and download these samples:

Market Intelligence Overview Video- 3 Min 44 Sec

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE EXCEL.xlsx

STEALTH Tactical Intelligence – SAMPLE.pdf

Take a look at page 5 of the PDF file above. You will see that 78% of all of the contracts were competed between 5 companies. That means nearly $8.5 Billion of tactical sales only had 4 competitors. In fact, nearly half – 47% had no competition at all (see page 28) and $6.5 Billion went to companies who enjoyed NO competition at all.   Take a look at this intelligence sample for tactical gear. Nearly 15,000 contracts in that specific market alone. Over $10 Billion in total sales. How does this happen? Who is responsible for these 15,000 contracts? That is the real question. Take a look at the sample intelligence surrounding these contracts and the 700 contacts responsible for executing most of the $10 Billion in tactical gear sales.   This is typical throughout the federal marketplace. With the exception of certain types of construction, competition for most opportunities is less than 5 companies.

Competition Myth: BUSTED

Myth: FedBizOpps is the Best Place to Find New Opportunities

in Agency Focus, Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe 1 Comment

If you go to www.fedbizopps.gov you will find around 19,000 opportunities. Huge, right? Look closer… those 19,000 are categorized in one of the following: Presolicitation, Combines Synopsis Solicitation, Sources Sought, Modification, Sale of Surplus Property, Special Notice, Foreign Government Standard, Award Notice, Justification and Approval, Intent to Bundle Requirements.

If you search all opportunities in the past 365 days, you will see that only 196,564 actually were posted. Let’s look closer… 74,426 were not even real opportunities (Presolicitaions, Sources Sought, Canceled etc.). That isn’t all… When you consider some were not awarded at all and about 80% of RFP’s are so heavily influenced by industry (winnable only by the contractor who assisted in writing the scope), that leaves about 3,000 opportunities per month – Nationwide across all industries. That is why most companies think there is too much competition – and they are right if FBO is your source.

Last year according to isiFederal Intelligence research, 2,623,071 contracts were awarded last year with 218,589 contracts being executed every single month (now that is more like it). That means only about 4.5% of opportunities actually hit the street on FedBizOpps and most of them are already baked for the competition.

FedBizOps Myth? BUSTED

Here is a video with some more on FBO… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNapeaNsJ3A&feature=share&list=UUT7lk1QZ641AoAeFE8YUG8g

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