Responding to RFIs: Tips and Tricks for Engaging in Market Research
Government Business Development | 6 Min Read
Market research is something you can expect to see throughout the life of your GSA Schedule. Market research can be used to determine ‘fair and reasonable pricing’ during the offer stage and for modifications. Market research can also be used during the procurement process for the buyer to determine the ‘best’ price for their needs. As a Schedule contract holder, it’s important for you to have a better understanding of why GSA collects market research and how this data shapes future purchasing decisions.
Since market research is so crucial to government contracting, GSA has created a streamlined process to make this information more readily available. This process is called MRAS or Market Research as a Service. MRAS allows GSA to conduct research through surveys and Requests for Information (RFIs) and distribute it to the necessary agency. Here’s what you need to know about responding to these RFIs and engaging with GSA’s market research.
Why is Market Research Important?
As we mentioned above, market research is important for agencies to determine best value and see what solutions are out there. Agencies are looking to meet their needs in the most efficient way possible, and through market research, they can identify what is available to them. Market research is often required by law as well. But why is market research important to GSA contractors? We have listed 5 important reasons below:
1. Gain knowledge
Market research can be a conversation starter with an agency and helps you better understand the market that you as a contractor rely on. You’ll get a better idea of what the agency is looking for, and you’ll have a chance to share your solution and how it may help them achieve their goals. Once you understand the market better, you can interact within the relevant agencies more efficiently.
2. Make informed decisions
An essential feature of the GSA Schedule is that it’s a competitive vehicle. Market research allows you to analyze the competition and make informed decisions about your business practices. Research allows you to see the possible solutions and understand the impact.
3. Drive mission capabilities
By responding a market research survey or RFI, you have the possibility of shaping the future Request for Proposal (RFP), giving you an edge on other contractors. The information gathered during the market research process ultimately affects the acquisition strategy, requirements, evaluation factors, and terms and conditions to name a few.4. To remain relevant, gain efficiency, and innovate
Client engagement and relationship maintenance is essential to being successful with government buyers. Market research helps gather feedback and allows stakeholders to be heard.
5. To ensure regulatory compliance, understand market constraints, and recognize opportunities
A large part of market research is figuring out what parameters need to be set and what solutions are out there that can operate under these requirements. It can also identify if the need can be met solely by small businesses, lending an opportunity for a total small business set-aside, or another more specialized set-aside such as Women-Owned Small Businesses.
How Does GSA Conduct Market Research?
GSA provides Market Research as a Service or MRAS to help facilitate the above-mentioned benefits. They do this through a commercially available software that helps streamline the process. This process helps simplify the research specifically by asking “yes” or “no” questions and requesting direct values and ranges. GSA asks questions with a purpose while also considering how they want to visualize the data received. To make the data more digestible, GSA uses video, website, demos, manuals and more. These visuals can be used to help identify recommended parties, recommended North American Industry Classification (NAICS) Codes, and interested parties as outlined by Socio-economic Status/Business size.
How to Find MRAS Surveys/RFIs
All MRAS surveys/RFIs are posted on GSA’S eBuy site under Source Selection under the applicable Special Item Numbers (SINs) and contracts. This means that you won’t see opportunities that are not relevant to your offerings.
You’ll also periodically get notified of any MRAS surveys that are related to your SIN(s). These RFI request emails will be sent to the email address located in eLibrary, so it’s essential your email is current and up to date, and whoever is the main Point of Contact is frequently monitoring the emails.
Tips for Responding to MRAS RFIs
After having a better understanding of what market research is and why it’s important to be involved as a contractor, here are some tips:
- Thoroughly review the scope description in the summary to make sure it pertains to you and you fully understand it. You’ll want to reference the language repeatedly in your response.
- Take note of and be sure to meet the due date for the responses, there is no room for late submissions.
- Be sure to download any requirements attachments such as the PWS or SOW. It can be difficult to make sense of all the documents, so make sure you carefully review all the attachments.
- Some opportunities will include a section for an ‘optional capabilities statement’. This is a good place to include more information about relevant experience and let your company shine over the others. Just like optional extra credit, we suggest you turn this in.
Tips for Your Capabilities Statement
As mentioned above, you will be given an opportunity to include a capabilities statement. This is a chance for you to give unique information about your company and explain how your solutions may fit their needs. It should be tailored to every agency/market research response. Here are some tips about capabilities statements in eBuy:
- You can provide a general capabilities statement first. This can be found in the “Company Information” section in the field “Capability Statement URL.”
- At the end of the survey, you can upload a more specific capabilities statement. Please note:
- Only one attachment can be uploaded, so please combine your files into one document. Capabilities statements should be no longer than 1 page anyway.
- Provide more information on any technical questions that you answered as “No”. This is your chance to give more context if your solution has capabilities that are unique but were not specifically listed in the survey.
- Be sure to elaborate on any additional open-ended questions that may be asked in the survey. Use this to help your company stand out.
- Please note that this an optional document but can be beneficial to submit.
What Happens After You Submit Your Market Research Response?
A market research report summarizing your response is sent to agency acquisition professionals. The agency acquisition professionals take the responses and provide agencies with visuals and data, narratives they can leverage for acquisition planning, and gives agencies an outlook on whether competition and socio-economic participation is likely. Then, an agency Point of Contact (POC) is provided to you if you have further questions regarding the RFI or survey.
Things to Keep in Mind About Your Market Research Response
- GSA sends agency POC information to the email included in your original response 5-10 days after RFIs closes. If you still need the agency POC information, you will need to email GSA that you lost the email. Only vendors that respond to the RFI can be given the agency POC information.
- GSA is unable to provide information regarding the expected acquisition strategy or expected RFP date. Please contact the agency POC for this information.
- No extensions will be granted. This is only market research and the RFIs are meant to be streamlined, therefore, please respond with whatever information you have available by the due date.
Stay Updated On Future Government Contracting Opportunities
As a GSA contractor, it’s important you stay on top of government solicitations including RFIs, Requests for Proposals (RFPs), and Requests for Quotes (RFQs). We cannot stress enough how important it is to get involved in the solicitation process early and respond to RFIs and surveys that you are interested in pursuing in the future. This is your chance to tell the government about your products and services and how your company stands out among your competitors.
For more information on government opportunities check out our blogs below:
- Everything You Need to Know About a Government Solicitation
- How to Break Down a Government Solicitation
- How to Find Government Contract Opportunities on SAM.gov
If you have questions about support with government contracting opportunities or about your GSA Schedule in general, please contact one of our consultants. They would be happy to steer you in the right direction and help you get the assistance you need.