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GSA By The Numbers

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

The feds usually spend about $500B every year on contracts.  This year that number is nearly $1.2 Trillion and that means significant increases across all contracting vehicles – including GSA. Every sale over micro-purchase (recently increased to $10,000 max) requires some kind of competed contract vehicle to meet the requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).

Between June of 2017 and June 2018 over $39 Billion of federal spending went through GSA schedules.  As of November 1st there are 17,289 active schedule holders held by 14,346 companies (some companies have multiple schedules). Looking at the Budget for 2019, sales are could exceed $50 Billion – That would be record since GSA sales in 2017 were down to $32 Billion.

Now for the real news… GSA reports $39B in sales between June 2017 and June 2018 was won by around 7,756 companies… That means 9,533 schedule holders are under-performing – on pace for less than $25,000 per year – the minimum required by GSA to keep the schedule.  So, the winners are averaging over $5 Million in federal sales through their GSA schedules and the rest of the companies are in the process of failing and failing miserably.

Why? Simple: GSA doesn’t sell for you, you need to sell your GSA.

GSA schedules are by far the easiest contract vehicles to obtain and very useful as tools for obtaining federal sales – BUT they don’t bring sales by themselves. In fact, GSA gives new companies TWO years to make the first $25k… You have to ask yourself why? I’ll tell you… it’s because it isn’t easy and you need to get out there and go after business- not just wait for orders from GSA Advantage or opportunities to hit GSA eBuy. You need to get proactive and go after these people.

Getting in front of federal decision makers is the key to GSA success. If you can’t succeed in FY2019, you will never have a better shot. You need to identify buyers in your market, get to them and make sure you are one of the qualified GSA schedule holders they remember when they need what you sell.


FY2018 Lessons Learned

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

Every year people call me in August with the request “Get me some of the September Money!” I say sure! For September 2019… You see, we learned a long time ago that the incumbent and proactive competitors have a HUGE advantage in September because they have been working the relationships for months and sometime years.

Now is the time to reflect on your federal efforts of 2018.

Question 1: I would have won more if…

I had bid more
I knew who was buying what I sell
I knew before the RFP came out
I had influence on the RFP scope

Most companies look to the number of bids. I say don’t bid if you don’t have a winning angle. Think about this… The incumbent has been working that client for a year, maybe 5 or more years. They know the systems, they know the key players and chances are their finger prints are all over the RFP – They have a winning angle.

Does that mean you should just let them have it? Absolutely not. But you better get your own winning angle.  Make no mistake, you winning means displacing the incumbent or a qualified competitor.

Every successful strategy starts with identifying your market. I say, let your competitors define your marketplace. Federal competitors don’t exist without a contract, contracts have dollars associated, and dollars have contracting officers associated and contracting officers are the purchasing arm of the program managers who both work for an Agency.

Question 2: Who wrote the most contracts with my competitors?

For the past 12 years I have been analyzing data, parsing obfuscated information and compiling market segments. The government doesn’t make it easy either – if they did, I would be out of a job.

There are a myriad of data points in the government FPDS, SSQ, SBA, USAspending, GSA, Agency forecasts, P-cards etc. After all, the US federal government is the largest organization on earth. Maybe they intentionally obfuscate data, maybe they just can’t seem to get their hands around it all, either way – the information is not usable in its provided state.

Sometimes you can see what company won and how much. But who was behind that purchase? That is what I want and what competitors need. Is there a list of buyers? Nope. Is there a list of Program Managers? Nope. Even if there were a list, it would be irrelevant because there are over 80,000 contracting officers, 180,000 P-card (credit card) holders and 2.7 Million federal employees.

You need to know who is in your space, specifically, who is buying from your competition. This will help you answer questions 3 and 4. Before we get to those questions, I want to lay out a little insider information that helps me know who matters most. The federal forecasts and budgets are all based on dollars – important, but not the driver. The driver is activity, dollars and average contract size. I take activity over dollars because that shows me that they will buy again, and again. I look for dollars associated with specific competitors because I know that I can compete against that competitor, or maybe I can’t compete against that competitor and I don’t want to waste my time. Finally, I look for contract size so I know it if that buyer is buying my sweet spot. This effectively eliminates 99% of the 80,000+ buyers – 750 top buyers in my space.

Question 3: If I know who the buyers are, how do I get to them?

This is where the small business liaison is supposed to help. The concept is the OSBU or OSDBU is supposed to connect you to these people – most of them, won’t, don’t or can’t for a variety of reasons that I prefer to leave for another day since it raises my blood pressure watching quality companies jump on this useless hamster wheel. Suffice it to say we need a better way to get noticed.

Three successful strategies in getting in front of are:

  • Personal introductions
  • Establishing yourself as a Subject Matter Expert (SME)
  • Pure unadulterated tenacious grunt work

The most successful strategies incorporate all three of these elements consistently and so should your 2019 strategy. This is where isiFederal lives. We introduce, make you look good and stay after these people to get you remembered in September. Which September? All of them. The cycle never stops because the competitive landscape, internal buyers, external budgets and market conditions are constantly changing.

We will be discussing all of these concepts and tactics during our “Getting Ahead of RFPs 2019”. We would love to have you participate. Bring questions, issues and requests as it is an open forum for discussion. Looking forward to seeing you there!

And it starts all over again…

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

That’s right, we are now in FY2019 and believe it or not, the budget was passed for the first time in decades. This is important because irrespective of election year politics we can all be sure of this:

  1. The feds will spend over $500 Billion in 2019
  2. The people who had budget power will maintain that power in 2019
  3. The government will buy what you sell again, and again, and again

Winning in the federal market is a matter of planning and positioning.  Your competition has been doing this for a long time so the key for you is to inject your company as a key player with key decision makers who spend the money. During our Getting Ahead of RFP’s sessions for 2019, we will be reviewing and discussing best practices…

How you can do this:

  1. Get Smart. Your industry report you received is a sub-segment of isiFederal’s Market Essentials – the best way to find the people behind the opportunities.  Market Essentials provides you with the road map – specifically for your company – by identifying who matters most to you.  Now that you know who they are, get moving and go after them.  Need some help? isiFederal’s support team actively targets and pursues thousands of buyers every single month.
  2. Identify Gaps. No business has all the pieces so you are going to need some help with your business development processes and activities.  What will it take for you to be successful? Dedication to the cause.  We reviewed several successful federal contractors and identified the resources needed and budget costs.  Need some help?  isiFederal can quickly show you what it takes and what you need.
  3. Budget. There is nothing fast easy or cheap about winning federal contracts. If it was, everyone would be able to win federal contracts.
  4. Get Proactive.  If you want to win, you better be going after your competitors’ buyers starting NOW. October through January is the BEST time to get positioned before the money is allocated for 2019. Using creative ways to get in front of – and stay in front of -key decision makers will make the difference of whether you win or you let your competitors win.  Need some help?  isiFederal has several innovative ways to get you remembered as a subject matter expert so you get the attention you deserve.
  5. Give Them the “WHY”. The fact is federal buyers already have relationships with your competitors and, for the most part, they are satisfied. What you are asking them to do is take money from someone they know, and give it to you instead.  If that is going to happen in 2019, you better have the right answer to the “WHY”.  Need some help? isiFederal can help you hone your message to what matters to THEM so they will understand WHY you are important.
  6. Get Ahead of the RFP. Rule #1 is if you didn’t influence the RFP then your competitor did.  Opportunities come from people, not FBO or even GSA eBuy. Did you know that most winnable opportunities are competed between less than 5 companies?  You want to be one of the 5 and you get there by people liking you. Need help? isiFederal can provide you with the expertise to help you bridge the gap and save you hundreds of thousands at the same time.
  7. Stay the course. Give yourself 24-36 months to develop traction and you will beat the vast majority of the competitors in the federal market. This is what the incumbents did – you can do it too! Need help? isiFederal provides support services that can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars and guarantee success.

To be effective in 2019 you need to know about the market and fill the gaps in your resources. isiFederal can help you do exactly that and you can find out more at www.isifederal.com. No matter what, please join us for our free monthly session “Getting Ahead of RFP’s” and get an understanding of what it takes and how we can help.

Happy New Year! 2019

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

New Year? That’s right, it is now 2019 for federal contracting as the government concluded all spending for fiscal year 2018 in a flurry of September activity.  Now the focus changes to 2019 and for the first time in decades, congress has passed the budget – a record $1.2 Trillion in spending. That means business development efforts start right now.

The fact is you need to be in front of the key decision makers starting now if you want to win contracts in 2019. Why? Because the incumbents have an unfair advantage…  They know what is coming, they help the buyers formulate the scope and are well positioned to respond with insider knowledge.


Getting Ahead of RFPs

Register Here!

How can you compete? The only way to effectively compete is by establishing relationships and positioning yourself as a qualified resource to the people buying from your competition.

Establishing a relationship is like dating. Unless you are in Vegas, chances are you won’t get married on the first date. In fact, if you look at how the big boys like Lockheed and Deloitte manage their relationships, it often takes years to establish yourself in the federal market or position your company for a specific opportunity.

Is it worth it? You bet. That is why the big boys do it and why successful federal contractors deal with the nuances and complexities of the federal landscape. isiFederal can help you understand, plan for and manage your federal business process so you can have a successful 2019! Give us a call today 888-9-GET-isi.


5 Tips for the Last 60 Days

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

This is it folks, this is what we have been preparing for! If you have been doing your job developing relationships, now is the time to really capitalize on your hard work! If you haven’t been aligning yourself with buyers since October…

Tip 1 – Tap your top 100

If you have been effectively assembling information and contacting your primary targets, now is the time to ask them if there is a last-minute project coming down the pike. Don’t be pushy, but certainly let them know that you are ready, willing and able to respond on a quick turn project.

Tip2 – Be Brief

Federal procurement gets crazy busy this time of year. Make sure you do your best to align yourself with their issues as they approach year-end. Identify with their difficulty job and responsibilities and keep the conversations as short as possible. Even with this pressure, they like to talk about what is important to them and you can continue your relationship development even through September.

Tip 3 – Offer to Help

Let them know that you can turn around the paperwork for them and even provide them with standard forms already completed so all they have to do is cut and paste. Believe me, something this simple can go a long way to cementing a relationship with buyers whose bosses are breathing down their neck to deliver.

Tip 4 – Don’t Be Bashful

With all of the projects flying around the next several weeks procurement will be in overdrive so ask for the business, ask for suggestions and ask for referrals to others who might have projects.

Tip 5 – First Choice for Second Place

You might not have the level of relationship to be at the front of the line for a project just yet but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them and still win something small. Let them know that you are “qualified” to be on the “shortlist” and you will do whatever you need to do to knock their socks off. Let them know that you will even provide a “number” so they can buy from their favorite vendor (crazy right?). This shows them that you understand their world, you are willing to help them get what they need.

3 Reasons September Rocks!

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

Getting set-up for September right now is critical to your success.  You can’t wait until August either because buyers start to disappear because the workload increases 50%.  By September, the workload increases 200% and they are totally slammed.  What happens when they get slammed?  The companies that they know get preferential treatment…

1) Shorter Timelines for Bid Response. In the final weeks of September it is not uncommon to see 3 day, 2 day and even 24 hour response time on opportunities. We had one a few years back that was released on Sunday morning at 11am and due in 24 hours for $188k. We helped with the SOW and since the response was due by 11am Monday morning, the competition had no chance.

2) Thinning the Competition. When the rubber hits the road, CO’s look for a primary supplier and then send the solicitation to at least 3 vendors. Now, one is the primary who is most likely to win because they already know about the opportunity (see #1). How does this work? Well, if you have been doing your relationship building you have been working on several projects for the past several months and you have influence within the agency. This doesn’t just apply to incumbents either. That is why September is the BEST month for newcomers and growing your federal footprint if you are already a successful contractor.

3) Funky NAICS. Procurement determines how the opportunity will be released and they can choose how it will be posted. Most companies monitor a few NAICS that make the most sense for them. When September comes, CO’s often choose a strange NAICS so only a few (or one) vendor(s) are even aware it is out there. So, make sure you are watching for those hidden opportunities, some of them are really sweet and most of them never get seen by the competition.

This is the last session for 2019!

Join us Tuesday 9/10 at 11AM EST we will be discussing what happens in September and what you can do about it. Register here:

Mythbuster: 3 Federal Blow-Offs

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

There are three major issues that I work with everyday to help break into the federal space.  The first, “I don’t know who to call”. That we solve with Market Essentials.  Second, “I can’t get through”. That we help with our Business Development services.  Third, “they tell me…”

  • We list everything on FBO.

BUSTED. Every year somewhere around 4.5 million contracts are executed and only about 130,000 “opportunities” actually hit FBO.  Where are the rest?

  1. Micro-purchases (Less than $3,500) never hit FBO.
  2. CO’s are only required to list opportunities that are budgeted for greater than $25k.
  3. GSA does not require listing on FBO (they use GSA eBuy)
  4. IDIQ task orders are not listed on FBO
  5. BPA calls are not listed on FBO
  6. Minimally competed or “Short Listed” opportunities often don’t hit FBO

Want to find some of these opportunities? isiFederal can help! Call 888-9-GET-isi.

  • We don’t maintain our own vendor database.

BUSTED.  If you are not “preferred” you get sent to FBO.  Most of what they buy comes from less than 5 companies within a specific industry.  They don’t need a database because they know the people who will be responding already and unless you are one of them, you get sent to FBO.

  • We don’t meet with vendors.

BUSTED.  They absolutely meet with vendors, they don’t meet with vendor just because you ask. Think about it, do you meet with everyone that asks?  Of course not. You need to have a good reason to meet with people and that is usually because they made a connection that piqued your interest.  If you are having problems getting meetings it is probably because you need to adjust your approach so you resonate quickly with your target audience. Join us this coming Tuesday and see how we pique the interest of contracting officers and how you can too!

These are typical and intentional blow-offs to weed out the riff-raff from the real qualified companies with dedicated people who really want to do federal business.  Many buyers want to make sure you are in it for the long haul.  They already have resources to buy from so you need to make sure they know you are serious and you understand what they need.  What they are really saying is “Get Serious or Stay Out”.  Are you serious?  Are you ready?  Join us this coming Tuesday and see if you have what it takes to make it in the federal market.

Answering the Why…

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

Why should federal decision-makers stop using someone they know and start using you?

The fact is Federal decision-makers already have resources that are selling them the same products or services that you want to sell them.  Just because you show up doesn’t mean that you should win. Just because you’re an 8(a), Woman owned, HUBzone, certified Service Disabled Veteran that shows up on their doorstep… Doesn’t mean you’re going to be let into the inner circle of shortlisted, preferred vendors.

There are thousands of companies just like yours and successful federal contractors answer the why question is by clearly differentiate themselves from the competition. Three very effective ways that we used to differentiate our clients from the competition are:

govbrief_logoGovBrief Federal Briefings

GovBrief is an educationally based platform that places you front and center of federal buyers as the subject matter expert in your field. The urgency of being at a briefing at a specific time drives the attention to your message. The process of reaching out to key decision-makers inviting them, then personally inviting them and sending recap information is what positions you to be remembered. The proactive pursuit of calling your strategic targets get you the face-to-face meetings that you need to start letting them know why you should be included in the short list of preferred vendors.  This process works like no other and will deliver face-to-face and phone meetings where you can talk to key decision-makers and position your company against the competitors that they are buying from right now.


Personal Introductions & Follow-up

Using isiFederal Market Essentials the isiFederal team can provide you with a personal introduction to the top two buyers at each location in your footprint.  This 3-phase, laser focused marketing campaign:

  • Makes the introduction.
  • Responds for you.
  • Contacts them by email and/or phone to schedule a face to face or phone meeting.

Targeting 250-700 contacts, we expect dialog and meetings with at least 10% of the contacts within 90 days.  That is at least 25 meetings with buyers in your space with budget that they will spend by September 30th.

White Paper Marketing

WHITEPAPERisiFederal provides and unique tactic for our clients where we talk to key decision-makers to get their insight on white papers that we plan to submit to leadership councils. This tactic has proven to be very effective with enterprise level products and services as well as disruptive technologies where a clear understanding by program and project managers or contracting officers is required in order to buy your offering.  The process we use has little to do with the content of the white paper, although that is very important when you do make your submission to leadership councils, instead the process has to do with gaining insight and buy-in from key decision-makers that are needed to drive a “pilot” purchase for your product or service

All of these proactive processes have proven to be very good in differentiating our clients from their competition and more importantly – the incumbents.  In fact, we have already implemented this with several clients who are winning contracts in 2018 and building the basis for award in 2019 too. We would love to explore if you think these will work for you. Now is the best time to get proactive! Call us at 888-9-GET-isi (888-943-8474) and we will research your market and help you develop a strategy that works.


Winning Federal Contracts

in Federal Contracting by David Lowe Leave a comment

Winning Federal Contracts
BuildExpo Los Angeles

The federal government spends over $500 billion per year and is spending that money with your competition. Do you think you can compete? If you expect to win federal contracts, you’re going to need to differentiate yourself from your competition, market to key decision-makers and get them to stop buying from your competition and start buying from you. Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal, provided three presentations for the build expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center March 14 – 15 2018.

Thursday 9AM – Winning Federal Contracts

BuildExpo – Winning Federal Contracts – Presentation
Build Expo – Winning Federal Contracts – Worksheet
isiFederal Capabilities 2018

Other Build Expo Presentations

Wednesday 9AM – Doing Business with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Wednesday 11AM – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts

Other isiFederal Presentations


For additional information please contact Dave Lowe at 888-943-8474.

Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts

in Business, Business Development, Federal Contracting, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe Leave a comment

Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts
BuildExpo Los Angeles

The federal government spends over $500 billion per year and is spending that money with your competition. Do you think you can compete? If you expect to win federal contracts, you’re going to need to differentiate yourself from your competition, market to key decision-makers and get them to stop buying from your competition and start buying from you. Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal, provided three presentations for the build expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center March 14 – 15 2018.

Wednesday 11AM – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts

BuildExpo – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts – Presentation
BuildExpo – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts – Worksheet
isiFederal Capabilities 2018

Other Build Expo Presentations

Wednesday 9AM – Doing Business with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Thursday 9AM – Winning Federal Contracts

Other isiFederal Presentations


For additional information please contact Dave Lowe at 888-943-8474.

Doing Business with FEMA – Emergency & Disaster Recovery

in Agency Focus, Business, Business Development, Federal Contracting, Managing Your Proposal, Reaching Your Buyers by David Lowe Leave a comment

Doing Business with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
BuildExpo Los Angeles

Due to natural disasters, over $80 billion has been added to the fiscal year 2018 and 2019 federal budget. Registering and marketing to FEMA is essential to establishing your company as a FEMA resource. Dave Lowe, CEO of isiFederal, provided three presentations for the build expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center March 14 – 15 2018.

Wednesday 9AM – Doing Business With FEMA

BuildExpo – Doing Business with FEMA – Presentation
BuildExpo – Doing Business with FEMA – Worksheet
isiFederal Capabilities 2018

Reference Docs

FY2017 Budget Brief
GSA eLibrary Schedule Summary

FEMA Recovery Services


Other Build Expo Presentations

Wednesday 11AM – Marketing that Wins Federal Contracts
Thursday 9AM – Winning Federal Contracts

Other isiFederal Presentations


For additional information please contact Dave Lowe at 888-943-8474.

Get Shortlisted on GSA eBuy

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

GSA eBuy is for GSA schedule holders only, so if you don’t have a schedule, you are out of luck.  Even if you do have a schedule, some GSA eBuy quotes only go to a seShortlist_GSA_eBuylect few schedule holders.  Guess who decides which ones?  That’s right – the buyers and or program people.  Instead of digging for opportunities that are on eBuy or FBO (too late and too much exposure), use that time to proactively go after the GSA eBuy contacts that have proven they buy what you sell.

1) Use QuikFuse to monitor your eBuy Opportunities.  With QuikFuse you know about opportunities faster, stay organized and it also tracks all the federal buyers and contracting officers who have been buying in your space.

3)    Ask them how they like to buy.  You know they use eBuy, what about BPA’s or IDIQ’s?  How do they feel about alternative vehicles like NASA SEWP or Army CHESS?  These are ways for you to connect to them where they live – contracting!

4)    Give them insider information.  Let them know about specific purchasing patterns in your industry and how they can get better than GSA pricing with BPA pricing or special project pricing.  Give them a sample Scope of Work with specs and let them know you have preferred pricing with the manufacturer.

5) Be persistent.  The incumbents are touching the buyers regularly – sometimes every day.  If you want to compete, make sure you stay in touch so you stay relevant the next time a requirement comes across their desk.

GSA eBuy is a massive opportunity for GSA schedule holders that understand the game and can play the game.  As we mentioned earlier tools like QuikFuse can help you get the jump on the competition and even help you eliminate your competitors altogether.

3 Ways to Get Special Pricing From Manufacturers

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment

group-special-pricingMany manufacturers will provide special discounts for federal customers with whom they are trying to establish a foothold.  Sometimes these discounts can be so deep that the winning bid is less than your price from distribution or the manufacturer. The result – even if you go in really thin you still loose.  Now, you can complain about it, or you can play that game to win.

1)    Get registered first. The key is to get the information to the manufacturers first and lock in your discount before your competitors. If you use QuikFuse for eBuy notification, you get the buyer and delivery contacts via email. The second that QuikFuse email lands, try and get special pricing. Some manufacturers will give you that pricing even if it is already on eBuy.

2)    Be Proactive.  If they bought once, they will buy again.  If you maintain a database of these contacts and reach out to them, you can build a relationship so you know before an opportunity hits GSA eBuy.  Once you have spoken to these contacts, register them with the manufacturer, you might just score that special pricing for the next eBuy quote.

3)    Leverage a Competitive Product.  So the OEM doesn’t want to budge on pricing? Why not go to a competitor and get competitive pricing from them? Often times you can get deeper discounts when trying to dislodge a Spec’d product and even get brownie points from a contracting officer for letting them know about an equivalent solution.  So, if the brand name manufacturer won’t give special pricing, see what the competitive manufacturer will do.  Most of the time they will. If you need help with “Spec Breaking” or marketing a competing product let us know!

Want to Win? Become a Thought Leader.

in Federal Contracting by Aisha H. Leave a comment


In a LinkedIn study, 37% of program level decision makers and 41% of C-Level decision use the information provided by a thought leader when making a decision – this is HUGE.  GovBrief Procurement Briefings provide you with direct access to federal buyers, establishes you as a subject matter expert with program managers and gets you one-on-one face time with these decision makers.

Professionally hosted live briefings use interactive web tools to present, engage, and impress your future federal customers at the comfort of their own desks.

Why GovBrief?

800,000+ federal contacts

Personal Invites

Professionally Hosted

Session polls qualify customers

Follow-ups result in one-on-one meetings with Decision Makers

GovBrief session thought leaders often benefit from insider information as government decision makers ask questions or answer polls during the briefing indicating where they are in the decision process and what information they need to help them make a decision.

You can incorporate best in class business development tactics like procurement GovBrief that will get your federal sales on track.  The right time is now to get your company in front of the right people! Visit www.isifederal.com for solutions to increase your BD efforts today or call 888-9-GET-isi (888) 943-8474.


Working with the Government Shutdown

in Federal Contracting by David Lowe Leave a comment

It is hard enough to sell to the government, now we have to deal with uncertainties like the threat of, or in this case, a shutdown.  Even so, we can use negative situations like this to empathise and connect with our prospects.  This morning we addresses this in our Federal BD Monday Roundtable session…


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