Learning how to sell successfully to the U.S. government, the world's largest buyer of goods and services, can be a daunting task. Most of the process is conducted online: using a computer is essential. Here are suggested approaches:
1. Update your company's business plan, highlighting special products, skills and expertise that would be of interest to government agencies.
2. Review your company's marketing strategy and goals.
3. Learn federal procurement processes and terms.
- Small Business Administration(SBA)
Provides a step-by-step guide for selling to the government, with tips on bidding, marketing, and competing for government contracts, and links to free online courses.
- General Services Administration (GSA)
As the government's chief acquisitions agency, GSA spends billions of dollars annually on products and services offered to all federal agencies.
- Doing Business with GSA
Covers government procedures, marketing strategies, and bidding procedures for contracts. Also lists important contacts, such as the 11 GSA regional centers and technical advisors for small businesses.
- Office of Small Business Utilization
Through outreach activities in regional offices, promotes increased access to GSA's nationwide procurement opportunities for small, minority, veteran, HUBZone, and women business owners.
- Using GSA: How to Sell to the Government
Describes how GSA buys from small and large businesses, including an explanation of how GSA advertises business opportunities locally and nationally, and lists a calendar of local workshops for businesses wanting to sell to the government.
- GSA Training Programs
Online and onsite courses, including How to Be a Contractor.
4. Contact offices in your state or region
- Speak with a procurement specialist or contracting officer about federal government buying procedures.
- Ask questions about application procedures, technical requirements, and marketing suggestions.
- Attend procurement programs, which provide opportunities for business people to meet directly with government officials and to learn from other companies involved in federal contracting.
- Small Business Development Centers (SBDC)
Located in every state, these centers advise and train businesses in financial matters, including certification procedures for small and minority businesses. They are an excellent first stop for any business, especially those with little or no previous experience in dealing with federal procurement.
- Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC)
Although the main focus is providing technical assistance on selling to the military, the centers cover marketing to all government agencies through counseling, training, and procurement programs.
- GSA Regional offices
The contracting officers are familiar with the procurement needs of the federal facilities located in their region.
5. Register your business online with Central Contractor Registration (CCR)
A company must have a CCR number to get government contracts.
6. Review the information on the Criteria for Small Business Classification.
If your business is classified as a small or disadvantaged business, this certification may lead to more business opportunities.
7. Additional statistical information for business registrations, required for many government forms:
8. Check federal department and agency websites for specialized services or products that may be needed: to locate, use the FirstGov A-Z Index.
Federal Business Opportunities
FedBizOpps (Federal Business Opportunities)
Single point of entry for announcements of federal contract opportunities over $25,000, both civilian and military agencies.
- Serves both federal agencies as buyers and businesses as vendors to the government.
- For help navigating the website, call the toll-free helpline number (877) 472-3779.
- Search FedBizOpps for agency announcements, awards of contracts, and requests for proposals.
- Review the Vendors Guide for tips on searching by agency, classification codes, or award categories. [Download a free PDF reader]
- Sign up for e-mail notification of announcements of particular agencies or for particular products or services.
For continuing business, apply to become a GSA Schedules contractor.
Under the GSA Schedules program, also referred to as Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) and Federal Supply Schedules (FSS), GSA establishes long-term government-wide contracts with commercial firms. The GSA application and approval process "to get on the Schedule" may take considerable time but may be worth it for future business with government agencies.
- Getting on Schedule
Part of the GSA Schedules Program, the Federal Supply Schedule gives many businesses, small and large, further opportunities for multiple awards.
- GSA Training Programs
FSS Center for Acquisitions Excellence offers online training and classroom instruction on the GSA Schedules Program. Check for GSA course listings on how to sell to the government and get contract awards, including the course How to be a Contractor.
A federal contract may be so large that a single company might have difficulty in providing the products or services required to meet the terms of the contract. A prime contractor may need to use subcontractors to complete contractual obligations.
Selling to the Military and Department of Defense
Many of the DOD contract announcements and registration requirements for businesses have been incorporated into FedBizOpps (Federal Business Opportunities), with registration at Central Contractor Registration (CCR). However, there are often special requirements for selling to the military. The vast majority of DOD contracts are awarded by DOD field organizations, or specific mission-oriented agencies within an organization.