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How Smart Are You?

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting, Understanding Your Market by isiFederal Leave a comment

howsmartareyouWhat do a Blood Pressure Kiosk, a Lobster Tank and Coca-Cola have in common? They, along with thousands of other purchases, were all executed by the same federal contracting officer.

How do we know this?

Great question.

It also happens that this same contractor bought Public Relations Services four times in the past year. This is especially important to

Over the past 10 years there were 6,678 contracts for PR services totaling over $1B, is there a market there?

You better believe it.

One contracting officer bought PR services 32 times for over $9.7M and, guess what, 15 went to the same contractor with Time and Materials pricing. The other contracts were split between FOUR other contractors. Only 3 of these contracts were fixed price and all were executed on a task order which means NONE were publicly bid after the initial competition. The largest contract was $2.12M and did not require Small Business, or any other set aside participation.

Does want a piece of that work? You better believe they do.

Can you make money in the federal government? You better believe you can. It is incredible what can happen when you have a strategy that works. The beginning of the strategy is by far the most important component and can make or break your efforts.

In the private sector, we call it marketing segmentation: knowing who your best customer is. In the government, you can do the same thing – the magic is in the targeting. There are 80,000 plus contracting officers with purchasing authority to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the case above 1369 bought PR services of some kind or another, 299 bought them more than once in the last year,74 more than four times. Those are the ones you want. They are the gold nuggets. 74 is a quantifiable, manageable number that represent the top 10%. Because they have multiple applications for this service, the likelihood is much greater with these 74 that they will remember who is when they make the next purchase of PR services. That, my friend, is the name of the game.

Do you ignore the other 1200 plus contracting officers that, on any given day, may buy what you sell?

No way. But you place them in a different category otherwise you might as Stephen Covey would say “mistake activity for productivity”. We manage many different companies’ federal strategies and we can only do it by properly prioritizing our targets. First we find out know who they are and how they buy.

Imagine isiFederal doing this for you… in two weeks, you will know exactly what your priorities should be.

We would love to have you as a customer. Click here to purchase your very own intelligence package.

June 1st at 11 AM we will be conducting a SmartCEO webinar on marketing to federal decision makers. Click here to register.

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

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.

MythBusters- FedBizOps

in Agency Focus, Federal Contracting, Understanding Your Market by isiFederal Leave a comment

Mythbuster: FedBizOps

Myth: Is the best place to find new opportunities really FedBizOps? If you go there right now you will find around 38,400 opportunities. Huge, right? Look closer… those 38,400 are categorized in one of the following: Presolicitation, Combines Synopsis Solicitation, Sources Sought, Modification, Sale of Surplus Property, 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 60,699 actually were posted. If 60,699 is the annual total it must mean that a huge portion of the 38,400 are not even real opportunities. That isn’t all… When you consider some were not awarded at all and about 50% of RFP’s are so heavily influenced by industry (winnable only by the contractor who assisted in writing the scope), that leaves about 2,000 – 2,500 opportunities per month – Nationwide. That is why FedBizOps is a competitive nightmare and why most companies think there is too much competition.

Last year according to isiFederal Intelligence research, 2,718,964 contracts were awarded last year with 226,000 contracts being executed every single month (now that is more like it). That means only about 1% of real opportunities actually hit the street on FedBizOps.

FedBizOps Myth… BUSTED.

3 Steps to doubling Your Profits in 180 days

in Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

3 Steps to doubling Your Profits in 180 days…

Did you know 20% of your clients make up 80% of your profits? These are your “A” list customers. Did you know that 80% of your internal resources are going to the least profitable 20%? These are your “D” list customers. What if you could double your “A” list, while dropping the “D” list? You could effectively double your profits and – get this – not have to add a single person.

1) List your best customers.

Can you list your top 10 customers? Most business owners when asked about their best clients can rattle off the top 3 or 4 without too much difficulty. Go ahead, take a moment and try it. By the time you get to 6 or 7 you will probably be struggling. In fact, you are likely starting to question what really makes your best client and injecting qualifying arguments like revenue, gross profit, ease of customer management, ease of sales or some other factor. Grading best customers can be difficult. Here is a link to a simple spreadsheet that you can use for this exercise. Uncommon Results Best Client Analysis System. Download and start filling in the important information.

2) Create a matrix of your best clients

Along with what your clients mean to you, list their characteristics. Include facts like how big are they (revenue and employee), who in the company made the decision to buy from you, their market segment, clients they serve and geography.

Inevitably, a "sweet spot” will develop in your client list – these are you’re “A” list customers. Once you know what customers look like in your “sweet spot”, it’s easy to find other companies that meet that criteria.

3) Direct ALL of your proactive resources towards companies that make up your A list.

Chances are your sales team, marketing efforts and support staffs are the most expensive overhead you have. If you take some time and redirect your proactive efforts and target ONLY prospects that meet your potential “A” list clients, the impact can be increadible. The hardest part is staying on course and ignoring the Siren song of C and D customers.

Do yourself and your company a huge favor and run some market intelligence to understand who the decision makers are within your “A” list customers then develop your strategy around pursuit of those prospects. For intelligence in the private sector, contact Uncommon Results at 800-515-5351, for federal contracts call 888-9-GET-isi.

Chinks in the Armor: Hitting Your Competition Where It Hurts

in Federal Contracting, Understanding Your Market by David Lowe Leave a comment

Arm Yourself

Have you done a competitive analysis to see how your competition is adapting to current market conditions? Probably not. Only about 4% of companies actually break down their competition on a regular basis to identify weaknesses and vulnerable accounts.

Only 4% of companies regularly analyze their competition for weaknesses.

Interestingly enough, the 80/20 rule applies here as well- 20% of your competitor’s accounts are solid. They trust each other, they are loyal, and contracting officers help them navigate the system – they are not going anywhere. But what about the other 80%? At any given time, 80% of their clients are at risk for some reason or another- and you can identify them.

Finding Your Rivals’ Achilles Heel

"The Chink in the Armor" | 2 | Half-mast & PS Magazine

One more vulnerability you find in your competitors’ armor is one less advantage they have over you.

Using isiFederal’s Contact and Competition Intelligence, you can know who is buying from your competition, how much they win, and how they win. For instance, if you are in the Armored Car business, and want some business with IRS, you will be up against nationwide Loomis who won ALL of the IRS contracts since January 2009. But Triple Canopy, a company not known for Armored Car services swooped in and took a $5.6M contract with the Army- an agency where Loomis had won 62 contracts over the past 9 years.

While we don’t think Fed Biz Ops is the place for finding winnable opportunities, we like the information that is available if you are tracking the bids through reward. The information is there four competition, you just need some help finding it and interpreting what the data means. Accounts that are consistently being won by a competitor are solid top 20% accounts and will require a lot of time and effort to become first choice for second place. The other 80% however, are much easier targets and will – at some point – be willing to at least entertain another option. The approach is critical to your success. Look to isiFederal to help with your introductions into accounts where you don’t have any traction.

Secret Agencies

in Agency Focus, Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

Secret Agencies

We are not talking about NSA, CIA or any other spy agencies, we are talking about unknown agencies would drive right past their office and not know they were there. I should know, I have driven past a few of them for years in DC.

Bureau of Reclamation $1.1B

US Marshal Service $1.1B

USGS (Geological Survey) $1.1B

CNCS (Corporation for National Community Service) $1.2B

GPO (Government Printing Office) $1B

Many of these obscure agencies have contracting officers with budgets that rival fortune 500 companies. Guess what… if you don’t know who they are, chances are your competitors don’t either. Most of these smaller agencies also have more modest purchases. This helps keep their purchasing underneath the major federal contractors’ radar and also can make it more manageable for you. In almost all cases, these smaller agency contracting officers not hounded by hundreds of sales people either which makes them very willing to talk. Click USA.GOV for a list of hundreds of agencies.

Accelerent Partner – Free Small Business Category Identifier

in Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

What makes a small business "small"?

Great question.  When dealing with the federal government, and most state and local entities, your qualification as a small business depends on what you do and how you are classified by NAICS codes (North American Industry Classification System.)  These are kind of like SIC codes that identify and categorize a business by industry.  Some NAICS, even in the same industry can vary drastically.  

Click here to download a comprehensive excel spreadsheet with all the NAICS codes by small business.  This also includes all the Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) that are underrepresented or significantly underrepresented.

How can this help your company?  Well, give us a call at 888-9-GET-isi and we will be happy to explain it to you.  Accelerent Partners receive a 10% discount on ALL services.  Make sure that you identify yourself as an Accelerent Partner!

Accelerent Partner – Free Small Business Category Identifier

in Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

What makes a small business "small"?

Great question.  When dealing with the federal government, and most state and local entities, your qualification as a small business depends on what you do and how you are classified by NAICS codes (North American Industry Classification System.)  These are kind of like SIC codes that identify and categorize a business by industry.  Some NAICS, even in the same industry can vary drastically.  

Click here to download a comprehensive excel spreadsheet with all the NAICS codes by small business.  This also includes all the Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) that are underrepresented or significantly underrepresented.

How can this help your company?  Well, give us a call at 888-9-GET-isi and we will be happy to explain it to you.  Accelerent Partners receive a 10% discount on ALL services.  Make sure that you identify yourself as an Accelerent Partner!

BRAC Update

in Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

The Buzz about BRAC

Holy smokes! If your business is in Maryland and you think you missed the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) boat- think again. A friend of mine forwarded the presentation from the GOVCON presentation last week and the numbers are staggering through 2011 and if you read on, you will see why it doesn’t stop there. You can download the presentation here, and here are some highlights…

Total BRAC MILCON Funding for Maryland $1.8B

  • Aberdeen Proving Ground $579.5M
  • Andrews Air Force Base $52.0M
  • National Naval Medical Center $641.4M
  • Fort Meade $529.5M

This was all planned and funded before the Stimulus. Stimulus funding isn’t hurting the efforts in the region either with over $600 million being awarded to in April alone.

Is this any of this going into your bank account?

It is not too late. Don’t look back at what you should have done two or five years ago, stop watching the action and get in the game NOW. Sure, construction companies that are in the game are reaping a windfall in projects, revenue and profit for Phase I. They will win even more if you stay out as stimulus funds will be flowing through 2013 and regular government spending will continue after that. Remember THIS IS PHASE ONE, there will be MORE.

Message for the Trades…

They will need to maintain, staff, secure and clean these buildings. Contracts are coming over the next two years for all the support trades including landscapers, painters, electricians, plumbers, window washers, security guards and maintenance. Not to mention there are thousands more contracts coming up this year with weak incumbents that your company has a great shot at winning – if you know how to play. Don’t forget about MAC work either, it’s fast pay and if you service it right- recurring business. Many of these jobs never show up on public bid notices so you need to get to know the contracting officers responsible for your services and get in front of them as soon as possible. Read more about knowing your target customer here.

Message to IT & Staffing Companies…

The briefing says “As many as 50 percent of jobs moving to Maryland will be filled by Marylanders” – can you say contractor staffed personnel? Interfaces need to be built, networks need to run, software needs to be bought, installed and maintained, help desks need to be staffed and managed. Billions are spent on bodies all over the world and this is an area where you can grow your regional footprint without leaving the area. How, many decisions for projects originate in DC, you are here and so are a ton of decision makers. There isn’t a better time to get in the game. Check out how SAIC is doing it here.

Message for Suppliers…

The government buys EVERYTHING including pencils and pens, furniture, exercise equipment, phones, calculators, and water hoses. They need wall art, paper, cell phones, filing cabinets, automobiles, logo hats and toilet paper (lots of it). They have green initiatives mandated by the White House OMB (Office of Management and Budget) for light bulbs, power supplies, cleaning supplies and hand towels. Come on, are you going to give out of town competitors free run in Maryland? To see what is happening with Green Initiatives click here.

Shameless plug for No More Excuses…

isiFederal can help you get in the game, know where the money is, who is responsible for spending it and build relationships to get your company positioned for contracts.

It is out there but it won’t just come to you. You have to get in the game and go get it.

Anticipated move in for Aberdeen Phase I is July – December of this year. It takes 6 months to get a GSA schedule so if you don’t have one GET MOVING. If you do, you need us NOW because 80% of GSA schedule holders fail to reach minimum required revenues and lose their contract within two years. Let us help you get smart and strategize to get you positioned for the work. Other companies charge $50,000 a year, you get our intel for a fraction of the cost and for a few dollars more than they charge for intelligence, you get the entire package with feet on the street representation in DC.

We can show you – help you – or do it for you so there are no acceptable excuses for you to stay on the bench. Use us or do it yourself but for the love of keeping the dollars here in Maryland – Stop wishing for yesterday, lace ‘em up and GET IN THE GAME.

Sole Source Contract Spending Drops

in Agency Focus, Federal Business News, Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

According to John Hutton the Director of Director of Acquisition and Sourcing at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Federal spending for non-competed contracts dropped from 36% to 31% since 2005. Historically, sole source contracts have been linked to defense-related purchases based on specific requirements; GAO estimates that approximately 13% contracts government-wide are sole source contracts. isiFederal intelligence supports those statistics, but there is more to the story.

Smaller Percentage, Bigger Money

Looking more closely at the numbers, the dollar values are far more impressive with Singe Offer Received (SOR) contracts and it is across the board. Through intelligence research for hand tools we found 39% of those purchases sole sourced for $8.5M- most of them military. SOR contracts were only 7% but the dollar value was $86.8M nearly 67% of the total tool purchases.

Research for utility construction was sole sourced at a rate of less than 1% but SOR contracts garnered 64% of total contracts for $164M – that is 48% of all utility construction awards. Marketing and Advertising services intelligence revealed similar numbers with $1.2B in spending with 50% of all contracts having one response. How about logistics, 33% SOR, 82% had 4 bidders or less.

How can you develop sole source and single response contracts?

It comes down to relationships with buyers.

Source: and isiFederal Intelligence

Doing Business with FEMA

in Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

Are you a contractor that can provide disaster relief services? 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 . Read more

Want Federal Business???

in Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

The Federal Government is buying what your company sells right now.

isiFederal is your resource for federal sales development and winning federal business. While isiFederal is about providing a Turn-Key Business Development strategy for your company, we also can provide components that augment your current federal strategy.  If you want to enter the federal market – you have come to the right place.

isiFederal provides all components of a successful business development strategy including:

How much of your tax dollars are going into your competitor's bank account?

That's right.  Your tax dollars are being spent on products and services that your competition sells- and you are supporting that effort.    We can help you even the score by finding, targeting, building relationships and winning business with the same people your competitors are selling to right now.

If you don't have a GSA Schedule – Great!

The isiFederal team can help you get a GSA Schedule if you need one.  While that is the fastest way to enter the market, it isn't the only way to do business with the government.  We can help you develop the contract vehicles that make the most sense for you.

If you have a GSA Schedule – Great!

If you have a GSA schedule, chances are you have come to realize that your Schedule doesn't make money fall from the sky.  That is why isiFederal exists.  People buy from people they like.  They can't like you if they don't know who you are. We have and build the relationships so people will like you and buy from you.

If it were fast, easy and cheap, everyone would be doing it.

Are You Ready?

Chances are you have been in business for a while.  You understand how to deliver your products and services and make a profit.  That being said, 80% of companies fail and spend tens of thousands failing.  isiFederal has a free, no-obligation survey that you can take to see if you are really ready to enter the federal market. It's free and we might just save you $50,000 by helping you stay out.  If you decide to get it in, we can save you up to $75,000 when you decide to use isiFederal.

Call us today at 888-9-GET-isi and discover the benefits of putting isiFederal to work for you.

FREE Handbook Download – Doing Business with the Federal Government

in Fedvine Freebies by isiFederal Leave a comment

Dave Lowe, Founder and CEO of isiFederal reviews what it takes to create and maintain a successful federal strategy.

  • Insight on how business is done in Washington DC
  • Why 90% of companies fail
  • What we can learn from the successful contractors
  • Steps to a Successful Federal Strategy
  • Links and Resources

While there is no secret sauce, there are specific areas that cause entrepreneurs to fail.

Fill in the following information and you will be e-mailed a link to the download page…

80% of Companies Fail – Are You Ready?

in Developing Your Federal Strategy, Federal Contracting by isiFederal Leave a comment

90% of companies that try to enter the federal space fail. Most spend between 40,000 and $60,000 over the course of a year with no return. Take this free survey to determine if you are really ready to enter the federal contracting market.

Excerpt from Doing Business with the Government Handbook

The main reason that most companies fail in the federal market, and I mean most companies – over 90%, is because the federal business development success model directly conflicts with the entrepreneur success model. This causes a chain reaction of mistakes based on two fundamental issues:

1) Underfunding the strategy

2) Underestimating the time for market development

Unfortunately having 90% fail doesn’t mean that system filters the best of the best into the top 10%. Companies that succeed do so because of sheer perseverance in learning the system and a willingness to adapt. The fact is, what made you successful, your drive, your passion, your excellence, your get it done now are secondary to the market conditions in front of you. The federal market is a direct contradiction to the DNA of most entrepreneurs and how they got to be successful in the first place and most cannot accept such a revolutionary change in thought process.

Think about it… In building your business, incremental success was making smaller sales, refining your delivery, improving your processes, struggling to finance growth and manage yourself into profitability. The most important component contributing to the success of your federal strategy is a complete overhaul of your outlook of incremental success, bridling your entrepreneurial mindset, trust that the process will work and then allow it to work.

If you look your business success in hindsight, chances are success wasn’t immediate. Like the first two years of Triple Canopy, you probably had to scratch, claw, push, bleed and reinvent yourself before your business stabilized to the point where it stabilized and ran efficiently. How much did it really cost to enter the market that you now have success? Before you answer, remember the sweat equity component and the 80+ hour weeks. Be reasonable and multiply that by a fair qualified hourly rate. Now, if you had to start all over in Japan with no customers, no relationships, with your brand new company – how much would it cost to do that? Exactly.

The federal market presents such a change in environment that successful business entrepreneurs can’t get past their own thinking to look at the market as it is- virgin and foreign. Everything that applies to a new market applies here:

1) You can invest your way into new business through sales and marketing

2) You can buy your way into existing business and relationships through acquisition

3) You can sweat your way in

No matter how you skin this one, it will take time, money and dedicated effort – even for insiders. There are always a few anomalies out there but almost no companies had an ROI (profitable) of less than 24 months doing business with the government. Statistics are hard to come by but the estimate is about 5% of the successful companies (1 in 20). That means if we include all of the unsuccessful companies who try to develop federal sales only about 1 in 200 obtain profitability within two years.

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