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Most private sector companies that want to do business with public sector agencies spend quite a bit of time searching for active solicitations via bid notification services. Some even cold-call agencies to get the scoop on planned projects or open purchase requests that may not necessarily be completed but rather fulfilled via open contract vehicles or an e-commerce site such as the Periscope Marketplace. This type of market research is important because government needs can change on a whim and demand for certain types of goods or services can suddenly surge or deflate.
However, your market research shouldn’t stop at current – or even future – solicitations. It is important to look at historical contract awards as well if you want to increase the return on investment (ROI) for your sales and marketing efforts, increase your competitive positioning and expand your addressable market.
Understanding who won past bids in the categories in which you are now competing and (more importantly) why they were awarded the contracts can help you optimize your government strategy by providing details such as:
Most of this information is publicly available (though state and local disclosure laws may vary), so taking some time to research both current market opportunities and past trends will enable you to better prepare each bid and increase the efficiency of your overall business development efforts.
Can You Predict Bid Opportunities Based on Budget Plans? Possibly.
We always advise those who want to do business with state and local agencies, school districts, non-profits and other taxpayer-funded entities to keep a close eye on those organizations’ current fiscal year operating plans and budgets and mid-year adjustments. Most fund allocations are broken down by category, with some offering more detailed insights into line item spend. Having this knowledge will help you better anticipate bid volume in the coming months, particularly if you’re able to correlate current contracts with the projected growth or decline in certain projects, programs or services relevant to your business’ offerings.
In turn, it will be easier to decide whether or not you should target a particular subsector (i.e. schools) for the next 12 months, broaden your target market (i.e. regional agencies versus just your state/city or IT versus just computing hardware) or even pivot your strategy to focus on consulting or services versus the sale of goods (or vice versa).
Signing up for a bid notification service and checking your email/dashboard daily to identify current solicitations is the first essential step you must take if you want to sell to the government. Just ensure your profile and “codes” are searching for only those bids that may be relevant to your business.
Of course, “relevant bids” is a relative term. The number of agencies making sole source awards is increasing because they are finding it hard to locate vendors capable of providing certain goods and services. So, it may prove beneficial to cast a wider net and search for opportunities in ancillary categories, and it will almost certainly pay off to upload your catalog to the Periscope Marketplace. This is the exclusive eCommerce site for the public sector (i.e. the place where government agencies go to shop and, hopefully, find those suppliers who aren’t already on their radar).
It is also critical to broaden the scope of your market research to understand the competitive landscape – not just those bidding now, but those who have previously won bids – and to confirm what government agencies might need in the near future. Yes, these might fluctuate as new challenges or opportunities emerge (such as those related to COVID-19, among other things). However, the more you understand the government’s plans, the more stability you might find in the development and execution of your business plans, even as things change.