By: Daniel Lopez on May 15th, 2023
How Do I Find Government Customers?
Government Business Development | Government | 5 Min Read
We live in a world where it may be as simple as picking up the phone and asking a prospective client if they’d like to purchase what you have to offer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like this when selling to the federal government. You need to abide by certain rules and regulations, and go through a formal process to sell your products and services. So, how do commercial companies sell to the government?
The General Services Administration (GSA) Multiple Award Schedule (MAS), or commonly referred to as the GSA Schedule, is the most popular program that allows businesses to sell to the government. But what do you do once you receive your GSA Schedule contract? Many current or prospective GSA contractors are new to the federal marketplace and want to learn more about how they can find and connect with government customers. So, let’s cover the websites and tools you have at your disposal to sell to the government.
Platforms to Sell Your Products/Services Through a GSA Schedule
We know finding government business can be frustrating and overwhelming, which is why we have gathered a list of resources you can use. As a contract holder, be sure that you’re using the following websites to market your offerings to stand out against your competitors:
Pretty much everyone in the commercial consumer world is familiar with large online purchasing sites like Amazon to buy their products. For the government, they use GSA Advantage! - the online shopping tool that offers benefits for federal agencies looking to acquire products and services. If your office is in need of new chairs or a new specialty coffee maker, you can open Amazon and browse through different options that are right for you. This same concept goes for the government as they browse and purchase items through items on GSA Advantage!. They can also look at options and prices for services.
It's important as a GSA Schedule contractor to be visible on this site, and make sure you are uploading information about your solutions including photos, descriptions, relevant keywords, and product specifications.
GSA eBuy was created for the purpose of streamlining and simplifying the online purchasing process. In addition to establishing Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) pricing, eBuy also allows contractors to seek information about competitor pricing, attach detailed descriptions of statements of work, and respond to Requests for Quotes (RFQs) and Requests for Information (RFIs).
Similarly, the site has many benefits for government buyers as well such as allowing for small business set-asides, enabling competition for Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs) and IT contracts, and allowing for market research. These features make GSA eBuy one of the key resources that your company should be using to ensure that you’re getting maximum profit under government sales.
Every company that does business with GSA has to be registered on the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) as it’s a critical part of the federal procurement process. But it’s also an important part of finding government opportunities. On the SAM homepage, navigate over to the contract opportunities tab. Within this tab, you can search for opportunities through multiple factors like keywords, dates for the solicitations, notice type, products, services, as well as set-asides.
Small Business Set-Asides
Another way to find additional opportunities for your company if you qualify, would be small business set-asides. The federal government focuses on small business purchases, and if you are considered a small business government contractor, you’ll have the opportunity to access exclusive contracting opportunities as well as other helpful tools.
Helpful Tools to Analyze GSA Sales
One important aspect of selling to the federal government is knowing how to conduct market research. Luckily for contractors, GSA has several existing procurement tools to help you research your competitors, your industry, as well as finding contracting opportunities. However, it’s one thing to know there are tools that exist, and another to know what each tool is and how to use it. These are free resources and are very integral to a contractor’s success, so we suggest you use them to your advantage. Here’s what you need to know.
Schedule Sales Query Plus (SSQ+)
The Schedule Sales Query Plus (SSQ+) web page is designed for users to track sales for different Special Item Numbers (SINs), find out the number of contractors in an industry, as well as track sales trends and contractor performance. The process of obtaining a GSA Schedule requires you to complete a Readiness Assessment where you will be expected to track how much money is being spent for the designated SIN you are targeting, and you can use this introduction to research the market further after your contract is awarded. It’s worth noting that this tool is not very user-friendly, but the more you practice it, the more useful it’ll become.
USASpending.gov is a free tool used for conducting market research and analysis. One of the most important targets for USASpending.gov is to safeguard against potential barriers of communication between government purchasers and sellers. You can use this site to track government spending in certain industries, contracts, and by agency. This way you can really get a feel for the budget of a particular agency or industry and understand where your best government customers are.
Be sure to utilize the “contract awardee section,” where you can get access to background information about your competitors who were awarded contracts. This information includes place of performance, NAICS Code, contract award date, type of awardee, and Point of Contact (POC) with email. To access this information, be sure to use the filter options to narrow down your searches. One way to do a search is by searching a specific NAICS Code. Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, click on “Results to CSV”. This will download to Excel as a spreadsheet and you can use it for future reference.
Are You Effectively Marketing Your GSA Schedule?
Now that you have a better idea of where to perform market research, showcase your solutions, and find government customers using GSA sites, are you making sure your internal marketing efforts are effective? We often suggest to our clients that being proactive like adding the GSA logo to marketing materials, drafting unique capabilities statements, and adding a government page to their website can go a long way in federal marketing. For more information on this, you can check out our blog on GSA Schedule Marketing 101.
We know finding and locating government customers and opportunities can be a lot to handle, especially if you pair it with GSA Schedule maintenance and compliance. If you have questions about your GSA Schedule whether it’s marketing or maintenance, one of our consultants would be happy to help you get in the right direction.