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7 Days of #FedFrenzy

in Developing Your Federal Strategy by isiFederal Leave a comment

We’re already a week into our #FedFrenzy countdown to the end of the fiscal year 2015! This countdown is all about the actions you can take right now to help your business gain a competitive advantage during the spending frenzy that peaks in September. In case you missed any of the tweets, here’s 7 days’ worth of federal business advice. Feel free to retweet or favorite these for later reference.

1. Update your capability statement. 

2. Make sure your GSA Schedule numbers are profitable.

3. Find three people you were supposed to call last month–and call them!

4. Send an updated, dated capabilities statement even if you haven’t changed a thing.

5. Find and target the top fifty people who buy what you sell.

(And if you don’t know who they are, that would be a good point to start.)

6. Habit 7…Sharpen your saw. Take a hike!

7. Habit 7: Sharpen your saw. Think of your favorite place and go there for a while.

We’ll be sharing a new tip every day, so be sure to check #FedFrenzy for updates.

Chinese-made Products and GSA

in Business Development, Federal Contracting, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by Jamey Zell Leave a comment

Trade with ChinaGo to any Walmart, Costco, Best Buy or any major retail seller and you are going to find products made in China. Low manufacturing and labor costs: it’s simply cheaper to have goods produced there and then shipped all over the world. Many companies have gone to China as the best way to maintain their profitability, or in some cases even just survive against their competitors.

I spoke with a business owner providing finished steel products and who did the transition to China a few years ago. He said he didn’t want to shutdown his U.S. factory but he had to because of labor costs to keep his company in business. He said despite the costs of loading huge heavy steel cargo onto oceangoing ships and shipping it all the way USA, it was still far cheaper than running his factory in the States and it was what he had to do.

So it’s the way of the modern world market to use China as a major supply source.

How does this affect companies who want to sell their products made in China in to the federal government through GSA’s acquisition path?

Here’s the scoop: China is not a TAA compliant country so if you make a finished product that comes from China, like a flashlight or a hand tool, and want to sell it to the government through GSA…you can’t do that. Another thing you can’t do is take a finished product made in China, ship it to USA, put it in a new package or box of some sort, and sell it to the government. GSA simply doesn’t allow that.

So what’s the work around to get past this trip wire?

There are two solutions:

1You can take a series of parts made in China that on their own are not the final product, assemble those parts here in the United States or in a TAA compliant country and then the magic happens: Substantial Transformation.

Substantial transformation is the key to be able to sell China made products to the federal government through GSA and be completely compliant. A good example of this is Dell Computers. They take a series of parts that don’t function on their own and assemble those parts in the U.S. into a finished, working computer. At that point the computer they have created is classified as a US-made end product and can be sold to the federal government through GSA with no problem.

Dell_wiki

Dell: Manufactured in China, Made in USA

There are many other examples of substantial transformation and those companies enjoy sales through GSA while maintaining good margin and still be in compliance. To get those products on your GSA Schedule, we still have to prove the elements of substantial transformation to the Procurement Officer (PCO) at GSA.  That is usually pretty easy to do as long as substantial transformation is really happening. The companies we have had trouble with are the ones who want to take a finished product, put it in a new box, slap on instructions or warnings about use, and try to call that substantial transformation.

Many companies have slightly shifted “how” they build their products to be able to get them on their GSA Schedules. For example, still want to sell those flashlights I mentioned earlier? Have the core components made in China but shipped to the U.S. for assembly and packaging, and in doing so you can achieve a genuinely substantial transformation: from batteries, diodes and what have you into a real, working, light-emitting device. Getting a little creative and adjusting your production methods can be a good way to get your products that started in China onto your GSA Schedule and be sold in compliance with good profit margins.

2Or, you can have lower production and assembly costs and still be able to sell your products on GSA buy looking to and embracing Taiwan. In August of 2009 Taiwan became TAA compliant. That was huge news in the industry and, as opposed to China, many companies prefer to have their products made and assembled in Taiwan. Taiwan has similar costs for production and assembly labor like China–but TAA compliance means the need to prove substantial transformation doesn’t exist and Taiwan made products can be easily sold on GSA.

Taiwan becoming TAA compliant has been a huge plus in lower cost manufacturing and a great alternate path rather than use China.

Which other countries are TAA compliant?

To check out that list, head to this page and click the TAA button to see a world map of who else you can work with for lower manufacturing and assembly costs.

TAA Compliance and What it Means for Your Federal Business

in Bidding Basics, Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs, Getting (and Keeping) GSA Schedules by isiFederal Web Admin Leave a comment

What is TAA?

TAA refers to the Trade Agreements Act of 1979, which impacts how the United States government does business with other countries–in effect, it actually implements provisions previously negotiated in the Trade Act of 1974.

What is the purpose of TAA?

Besides its most obvious purpose (implementation of the Trade Act) TAA is also intended to nurture free and open international trade, maintain a healthy balance of payments, ensure a substantial amount of US tax payers’ money goes back into the US economy thus providing the maximum benefit to US business owners, and stimulate economic development in underdeveloped countries, all while enforcing the standards that make it possible to do business with the federal government.

Which countries are TAA compliant?

Broadly, there are four types of countries on the TAA compliance list:

  • Countries with a free trade agreement with the United States (this includes Canada, Mexico, and Australia)
  • World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA) participants, such as Japan
  • Least Developed Countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh
  • Countries in the Caribbean basin
On a map, here’s what it looks like:

TAA Global Map

TAA Global Map

As of 2014, there are 119 TAA compliant countries:

List of TAA Compliant Countries (2014)

TAA Compliance Country Chart (2014)

Why should I bother with TAA compliance?

A GSA schedule is the government’s preferred procurement vehicle, and being TAA compliant means you can focus on growing your business at home and abroad without worrying about losing that. It’s also a good way to ensure you still give back to country even as you explore new horizons!

Already TAA compliant? Get a GSA schedule!

Top Ten Websites for GSA Schedule Holders

in Federal Contracting, Federal FAQs by isiFederal Leave a comment

Things can get a little crazy if you’ve got a GSA Schedule to maintain. Here’s our list of the top 10 sites you should bookmark to keep yourself organized and on top of things. We’ll keep it brief to save you time:

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How to Get Just About ANYONE to Refer You

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

Depending on the culture of an organization, some people will never give out any names. You probably already know this and you probably already know how difficult it can make things, especially when you’re just starting out.

Manufacturing referrals is a process you can use, no matter what your business is, to get to who you really need to reach. Now, this is not universal but I would like to suggest that you can get a referral from just about everyone if you keep a couple of things in mind:

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The CEO’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing–for Federal Business

in Books, Federal Contracting, Fedvine Freebies, Resources by isiFederal Leave a comment

"Going for Gold": Winning Business with the Federal GovernmentisiFederal CEO David Lowe‘s upcoming digital handbook “Going for Gold: Winning Business with the Government” is a brief guide to the ins and outs of federal business that condenses years’ worth of federal contracting knowledge into a short booklet–perfect to read between meetings, so you can get you up to speed on how things really work in the federal market while you plan your next business move.

The government wants companies who understand their internal processes and have experience in the way that their agency operates. So…you can’t win because you have no experience and you can’t get experience because you can’t win.
Welcome to the federal contracting world.
” –excerpt

Slated for release via the isiFederal website on March 14 2014 and written with the small- and medium-business owner in mind, the handbook begins by providing an overview of the federal procurement process. It busts commonly held myths–no, the government is not just looking for the lowest price in the market–and also doles out a dose of reality: as many as 90% of federal contractors (including 80% of GSA Schedule holders) fail because they make crucial business process mistakes that cost them heavily in the long-run.

This should be alarming news for any American, since a New York Times article revealed that 94% of large-scale federal IT projects in the past 10 years failed at the expense of taxpayers, but for a federal contractor it also means the difference between banking a million dollars–or filing for bankruptcy.

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What Healthcare Reform Means for Federal Business

in Federal Contracting, News, Policy Impact by isiFederal Leave a comment

Affordable-Care-Act_t607Pete Chesner and Jamey Zell join our CEO David Lowe to discuss ways GSA Schedule Holders can drive GSA sales, in the month of January 2014. Besides talking about GSA strategies and the impact of the Affordable Care Act on businesses in the federal space, Dave also picks up where we left off last time and reveals more about the next 6 steps to winning federal business.

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GSA by the Numbers

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

The 2013 GSA sales numbers were finally released in late December.  After hovering around the $38B, GSA sales have declined below the $35B mark.  The fact is, GSA sales have been declining for the past 3 years and are expected to continue declining due to several areas that affect the federal marketplace.

Certainly the federal budgeting and sequestration mess affects spending but more importantly to your federal market and GSA is the development and utilization of large IDIQ’s, BPA’s and other GWAC’s executed without GSA involvement.  While agencies have always had BPA’s (Blanket Purchase Agreements) and IDIQ’s (Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity) to facilitate repetitive purchases the real explosion goes back to NMCI, a multi-billion dollar contract for managing desktops in the Navy and Marines.

Another component to consider are GWAC’s (Government-Wide Acquisition Contract) like NASA SEWP that has grown to $2.5 Billion annually and is often utilized ahead of schedule 70 in many civilian agencies.  Other contract vehicles like NMCI (Navy Marine Corps Intranet) managing more than 363,000 computers and Army CHESS (Computer Hardware Enterprise Software and Solutions) which is mandated by the Army as first priority for all IT purchases and Seaport-e the Navy’s attempt at CHESS bite into GSA schedule 70 potential market and contribute to the decline in overall revenues.
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Why 80% of GSA Schedule Holders Fail

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

I recently sent out an update from a Driving GSA Sales webinar session and I received a response from a gentleman that makes sense to share with everyone.  Here was my update and the ensuing response…

Hey Everyone,

Normally I don’t send out recaps for our Driving GSA Sales Series but since we maxed out the webinar yesterday, I wanted to make sure that everyone had access to the presentation and link to the video (see below). With FY2013 closing out, federal spending is red hot with opportunities really breaking loose at a record pace- but not for everyone…

Did you know that 80% of GSA schedule holders are in the process of failing right now? Yesterday we took a look at how to change that by getting in front of the right people and getting your message across with procurement briefings. Again, sorry if you were not able to log on, please make sure you are registered Driving GSA Sales 2013 and get there EARLY next month as we will be in the throws of the final spending madness. Also, if you have any topics that you would like to cover in 2014, please let me know so we can keep the series fresh…

Thanks!
-Dave

Dave,

I am curious, where do you get your information from ? Your statement, “ 80% of GSA Schedule Holders are in the process of failing” ….

That seems like an extremely high amount – how are they failing? Why are they failing?

-Patrick

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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.

 

Register-Now.gif

 

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.

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

Drive GSA Sales

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

Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal is guest host for the September Drive GSA Sales webinar series. This series shows how GSA Schedule holders can effectively market their schedules by understanding their market, identifying buyers and proactively marketing to them.

This month’s topics:

  • Everyday Marketing Materials
  • Capabilities Statements
  • Business Cards
  • e-mail Signatures
  • Websites

This webinar is hosted every 3rd Tuesday. To register for future sessions click https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/697858502

GSA Schedule Development

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

Doing business with the federal government requires a contract vehicle. There are many types of federal contracting vehicles for may purposes. For examples of different types of vehicles, visit our friends at SAIC.

GSA (General Services Administration) assists with procurement work for other government agencies. As part of this effort, it maintains the large GSA Schedule, which other agencies can use to buy goods and services. The GSA Schedule can be thought of as a collection of pre-negotiated contracts. Procurement managers from government agencies can view these agreements and make purchases from the GSA Schedule knowing that all legal obligations have been taken care of by GSA. This makes purchasing easier for contracting officers and is in line with the streamlining efforts put forth by the Whitehouse.

Schedule development is a time consuming task. Visit GSA for more information. The concept behind the GSA schedule is to find products and services, negotiate best pricing and provide the resource to “customers” (agencies) in the federal government.

isiFederal will assist you in developing your schedule and more importantly, negotiating with GSA to maximize your profitability. Click to download a list of GSA Schedules.

This process takes approximately 6 months to accomplish and we guarantee to work until you get on a schedule. Pricing for schedule development varies by product and service offerings. While the GSA schedule development is part of the isiFederal Turn-Key Business Development process, at the minimum we recommend that you perform a primary cometitive analysis before entering into the GSA process to get an understanding of which of your competitors is winning and why.

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