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We often receive calls from companies asking how best to get their foot in the door with a government agency, and we offer a lot of tips and tricks to that extent here on the blog. We know it can be hard to break into government contracting, but we also know that it’s very possible for even the smallest of companies – and very rewarding once you do.
That’s why we were a bit surprised when, on a recent webinar, many current or former government suppliers started asking about what they should be doing to get back in with government agencies. They had assumed that winning a government contract would better position them to win more in the future, and that’s not necessarily what transpired.
Though the lack of sustained growth could be due to several reasons out of companies’ control, such as public sector budget cuts or low demand for their product or service offering, many times the slow down can be attributed to complacency.
So, yes, securing a government contract is a huge win – and may even be able to sustain your business for quite some time. But nothing is guaranteed to last forever. Even a strong performance record can’t guarantee a contract renewal or completion. Just look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted agencies and, subsequently, suppliers. Projects have stalled, buildings and services have been shuttered. In turn, many stop-work notices and contract terminations have been sent to private sector companies (of all sizes) with stellar public sector track records.
Now, this doesn’t mean that state and local governments, school districts and other public sector entities are severing ties with these suppliers forever. Many still value the relationships they’ve built with their suppliers and are eager to work with them again. The burden has just shifted more onto you now to figure out how you can best support government agencies’ evolving needs.
How to Get Back in with Government Agencies
As we’ve discussed in some recent blog posts, increasing revenue from the public sector may be as simple as broadening or refocusing your bid search, updating your NIGP Code(s) or working to secure an “open contract.” Though, we have heard from several procurement officials that it has become more important than ever for suppliers to pick up the phone and ask agencies what they need versus just trying to sell through their inventory. What we’re seeing right now is that companies that are able to pivot their offerings to align with the government’s evolving procurement requirements are finding it easier to grow their public sector revenue.
Of course, if you aren’t logging into your BidSync dashboard or checking your email notifications every day to review new bid opportunities, you could be missing out on new revenue opportunities. Same is true if you limit your marketing efforts. There are many ways to increase agency awareness of your company and offerings. However, the easiest way right now to get in front of thousands of government buyers at once is to upload your catalog to the Periscope Marketplace. Many states and co-ops are telling their procurement teams to shop on this e-commerce site first since it is the only platform built exclusively to connect public sector agencies with vetted suppliers.
Once you find the right bid opportunities for your business based on your current capabilities and agencies’ current needs, then your “history” will start to work to your advantage. When you’re preparing a bid or proposal, articulate how your team, solution or service has helped other public sector agencies achieve their goals and how it can be leveraged to address the unique needs of the agency you’re pitching. Remind them that you’ve proven capable of meeting the government’s administrative and delivery requirements in the past and that you have the proper certifications, qualifications, etc. Don’t sell yourself short, but don’t oversell yourself either. Your capabilities are only valuable if the customer understands how they will benefit them.
You were right to assume that winning a government contract would open up more doors within the public sector, especially at the state and local levels. However, those doors aren’t going to open up automatically.
Focusing on these four best practices will help you rebuild some momentum in the public sector even during the most turbulent times.