Salespeople are known for their tenacity and passion to sell but one opportunity that can be overlooked is selling to the government.
Jack Siney worked for the Navy on the F18 Fighter Jet Program and after this experience, moved to entrepreneurial companies and tech industries where he worked for public safety agencies. One such agency installed software on laptops that are in police vehicles across the country. Jack may have started in the government but has now been an entrepreneur for the last 25 years helping the government process more efficiently.
Challenges in Selling to the Government
There is a long list of stereotypes on why doing business with the government isn’t a good idea. Many think that the government is hard to deal with because of all the red tape involved, making the process take a long time. It’s true that in every stereotype, there’s a kernel of truth. However, the government has grown and has modernized. There are now many opportunities that salespeople aren’t taking advantage of because of these misconceptions. Selling to the government has actually become much more streamlined.
Biggest Prospect in the World
The government is a great opportunity for salespeople as it’s one of the biggest prospects in the world. Let’s talk about what makes the government a unique prospect.
Large and long-lasting contracts
Government contracts are typically large and run for multiple years. Putting in the effort in trying to earn a government contract can help stabilize the revenue of your business.
The government always pays
The government always pays. There’s always a risk of doing business with private companies. There are some who won’t pay for your products or services and will hold up your revenue. However, that’s not true when you sign a contract with the government.
Helps recession-proof your business
Even when there is a recession, the government will still spend on the things that benefit its citizens. As a result, even if there is a recession, if you have a product that can be used, your company can be better protected.
Getting the government contract
The government is just like any other prospect. You still need to do the standard prospecting, build relationships, and close deals. Another advantage in working with the government is that there are multiple ways the government makes a purchase. It’s no longer just going over the RFP process, in fact, 80% of the $20 million the government spends per day doesn’t go to an RFP process.
Jack helps companies by giving them the data they need to make good decisions about which agencies to pursue and the type of procurement they need to use. As already mentioned, there are nine ways that a government procures things outside the normal bidding process. They are:
- Sole source. This means that if a company has a patent and can sole-source the patent, the government agency can buy the patent.
- Piggyback. When a company has a government contract, another company/agency can purchase off that contract.
- Discretionary spending. Every government agency has an amount of money they can spend without having to go through an RFP bidding. It works like a slush fund for an office.
- P-Card or a purchase card. A lot of people working for the government have a P card (with a limit) assigned to them. When the product or service falls below the P-card limit, then someone can purchase whatever you’re selling up to the limit.
- Set aside. This is a set-aside budget that’s for socio-economic classification, regardless of who owns it. It may be a woman-owned, a minority-owned business or an organization for disabled Americans.
- GSA schedule. General Services Administration
- State schedule
- Simplified quotes. This is when the government needs an item and they award the contract to the lowest bidder.
These are the nine ways a government can make purchases and procurements. The more qualified you are, the more likely you are to avoid the bid via the RFP process. If you qualify in any of the nine ways, the government can just pick your agency and sign the deal with you.
What’s the GSA schedule?
The GSA at the federal level watches all the government agencies’ purchases. Companies can go through the process of being included in the GSA schedule. For example, several government agencies can purchase computers at different price points despite them being the same model and unit. When this happens, the GSA comes in with a schedule so that new companies with their own pricing can join and offer their products to be put on the schedule. They don’t have to bid an RFP.
Get a flagship agency
The best way for salespeople to flourish when selling to the government is through a flagship agency. Find out how that agency purchases and then try to work your product into their normal process. Instead of shooting for all agencies, focus on that one that will put in a good word for you to other agencies. In working with the government, it’s still important to build relationships, especially with your flagship agency. In two to three year’s time, your reach will have grown due to the references given by your flagship. This relationship becomes critical to the growth and reputation of a business.
Get a local press
After your flagship agency is launched, you’ll want to get local press for the agency. These news outlets love stories that talk about how their government is saving money, making things easier for their citizens, and are working more efficiently. Once the story has been published, share that to all the surrounding agencies. New prospects feel safer with companies who have gotten good press and are more likely to work with you.
Sell in circles
Agencies don’t want to take risks and want to know how other agencies have purchased. When you have your flagship agency in place, you can then start selling and marketing to other agencies as well as to smaller towns. Your flagship agency will do the endorsing for you.
Jack Siney’s company has a database of what the government purchases. The government literally buys everything from whiskey, to condoms, to sales training. There’s a lot of opportunity for salespeople who are ready to sell to the government. Get your organization comfortable with the idea. The government always pays and you just may have the next product it needs.
“How To Find Government Sales Opportunities Without Selling To The Government” episode resources
Find out more about Jack Siney and his agency by going to govspend.com.
If you are interested in more sales stories, you can talk to Donald about it. Reach him via these channels: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook about any sales concerns.
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