This is a common question for organizations just beginning the process of selling into the Federal Government. They typically understand commercial sales and what they really want to know is how can they tailor their existing offerings to meet the Government’s needs. However, this is not how Federal sales works.
Tom Ray, Retired Director of Small Business Programs, Defense Logistics Agency, answered it best on this Quora thread from a few years back, “The answer is whatever product you have the expertise and experience to provide. Government contracts are not a special type of transaction where any random citizen can simply apply for a contract and start collecting money. The government expects the contractor to provide the product contracted for at the agreed on price. If you somehow manage to get a contract which you can’t really perform, you won’t get paid, and may suffer penalties when the government has to go back out and buy the product from another source.”
In other words, if you offer a quality product and the government needs it then you should be able to sell it to Federal customers.
3 Ways To Understand Which Products The Federal Government Needs
While there is no definitive list on the products all Federal agencies need to buy, there are ways to understand those needs with enough time to adjust your offering and marketing to meet their unique needs.
1. Agency Strategic Plans
Federal Government Agencies release their Strategic Plans that typically span their goals and focus for the next several fiscal years. These reports typically outline where they intend to spend budget and how they intend to spend. For example, Social Security Administration (SSA) published their Strategic Plan Fiscal Year 2018-2022. Here is an excerpt from that document under section, Strategic Objective 2.2 – Accelerate Information Technology Modernization:
We maintain the benefit, earnings items, and certain vital records of nearly every member of the public on systems designed over 30 years ago. Technological change is accelerating at a relentless pace and offers us remarkable opportunities to change, transform, and greatly improve the way we serve the public. Yet, these newer technologies can also be disruptive to legacy systems, business processes, and ultimately to the way we work. Our dated IT infrastructure has grown increasingly fragile, costlier to maintain, and more challenging to secure, and it does not efficiently meet current demands for our services.SSA Strategic Plan Fiscal Year 2018-2022, Strategic Objective 2.2 – Accelerate Information Technology Modernization
Our IT Modernization Plan describes a thoughtful and deliberate multi-year agency initiative to modernize Social Security’s major systems, using modern architectures, agile software engineering methods, cloud provisioning, and shared services. We are embarking on an initiative to transform the way we design and build systems and ultimately the way we work and how we serve the public. Our IT modernization vision is to establish a fully integrated IT and Business team that delivers modern business platforms that improve our ability to respond more rapidly to changing needs at a manageable cost. We will provide an enhanced customer experience for millions of beneficiaries across an expanded mix of service options in a cost effective and secure manner.
This is just one excerpt from a 19-page document but it addresses the customer’s unique problems they face as well as their investment plan to combat these problems. In the Federal Sales Certification Training course we dive into the Federal Customer’s Buying Cycle and the knowledge in this plan offers valuable insight into how you can customize your delivery to most effectively support the Federal Customer (in this case, SSA) through the first two phases of that cycle.
A simple web search can help you find specific agency Strategic Plans, but here are a few more to get you started:
- DHS’ Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2020-2024
- HHS Strategic Plan FY 2018 – 2022
- DLA Strategic Plan 2018 – 2026
Need Hands-On Help In Understanding The Federal Market?
Register for an upcoming Federal Sales Certification Training Course and gain the tactical skills you need to effectively sell to the Federal Government!
2. Agency Upcoming Solicitation Previews
In addition to posting their Strategic Plans, agencies post procurement opportunities as early in the acquisition process as possible to help businesses identify opportunities that match their solutions. Using these portals, such as this Acquisition Planning Forecast System by DHS, can help you identify specific upcoming purchases and begin crafting a personalized response to the Agency. You can also subscribe based on your product keywords to receive alerts when new previews are posted.
ITDASHBOARD.GOV provides insight as to how Federal Government Agencies spent previous year budgets to support IT needs. If you know the investments that often lead the way for your products, you can pinpoint opportunities within specific agencies.
Start Selling Your Products To The Federal Government
Now that you understand each agency’s unique problems and needs for your solutions, you can effectively begin the process of selling your products to Federal Customers!
Do You Want To Be The Best Federal Salesperson?
Then request a FREE Consultation from Sanctum Federal! Our team has successfully built several Federal sales startup practices and secured millions of dollars of revenue directly from the Federal market and our mission is to help other organizations do the same!
Use the form below to request your FREE Federal Sales Consultation and learn what methods you can learn to increase you or your team’s ability to sell to the Federal Government!