There comes the point in many instances where contractors are all but ripping their hair out, wondering why they never find anything on SAM.gov for what it is that they actually do. Sometimes it seems that the lead time to respond is a week or less. It seems impossible to do what needs to be done to respond in the window provided. Maybe it seems the requirements are such that it was written for someone specific.
All of the above may be true if you’re sitting around waiting for a solicitation to take action. This is being REACTIVE in government contracting. Your successful competitors know and value the process of engaging with the agency early before a solicitation is competed.
Why is this important? The government doesn’t always know how to solve its problem, so by engaging early, you have a chance to influence the acquisition. The best time to engage is during the market research phase of the procurement cycle. The market research phase can be positioned in multiple ways like through a Sources Sought Notice or even a Request for Information (RFI).
What should you do to be PROACTIVE and engage early?
These are the steps that you should follow, in order:
- Market Research – You absolutely need to identify the agencies that buy what you sell so that you’re not wasting your efforts reaching out to those who are buying outside of your core competencies. Performing market research will also allow you to capture specific terminology and powerful keywords that you can apply to your own profiles and marketing assets to “speak the language” of your potential government buyers. Try cross-referencing the awards you see with the solicitation on SAM (if it was publicly posted) so that you can collect the terminology used and requirements of the existing incumbent.
- Robust SAM & DSBS– Half of the battle is being found when the government is looking for you. We already know that the first step after a need has been determined is market research for the government. This is when they come looking for you. If your System for Award Management (SAM) and Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) profiles are mediocre, you’re not putting your company in the best position. There is a difference between being “active” in SAM and having a robust profile, which ultimately starts with the first step in this list, market research. After all, if you don’t know what NAICS and PSCs the government uses to procure your products, how can you ensure you will be found when they’re looking?
- Review Procurement Forecasts – The agencies that buy what you sell review their procurement forecasts. It’s best practice not to limit your review to only NAICS codes. Try CTL+F and search the forecast for each of your core competencies. Also, try the keywords which you detected while gathering intel. Those which you were able to confirm are used by the government when procuring your products and services. Now, you’re prepared to discuss something specific with your end-users.
- Capability Statement – Now that you know who buys what you sell and what codes and terminology they use, it becomes easier to compile a compelling capability statement for your marketing efforts. While there are multiple types of capability statements, this one should be “general” as you are not yet hyper-focused on a specific opportunity. You are introducing your business to the Small Business Liaison Officers (SBLOs) in your targeted agencies. It should incorporate your logo/ branding, speak to your differentiators, and explain what your company does and has done well in the past.
- Check out this course if you need assistance with your DIY design, or click here to speak with an expert about having one designed for you.
Once you have completed the above steps, it’s time to start introducing yourself. The Small Business Liaison Officers (SBLOs) can be your best friends in the federal agency you are targeting. It’s also important to know they are one of many points of contact, though they have a direct line of contact with the others. It’s essential to know your end-users, not just by name.
Get the first meeting, and gather more intel (their pain points, challenges) to formulate your solution. Following these steps will put your business in the best position to win future work with that agency.
If you need assistance or have questions, you can always contact us by scheduling a complimentary Q&A.