Question posted in the 8-PAC Small Business Discussion Group on LinkedIn:
Q: Our firm is in the IT service field and has recently received 8(a) certification. Could anyone offer some advice on how we should identify federal agencies and best practices in sales and marketing?
A: You are in business to make money and not waste time. The following three points are vital to meeting the success imperative:
My suggestion is that you first develop a market research strategy to determine a first and second tier of agencies that may use your product suite. You can perform this by creating a profile in FedBizOpps @ www.fbo.gov. Another outstanding source for this exercise is FPDS: https://www.fpds.gov/. What you want to do is search the archives for historical agency purchases of your product suite. IMPORTANT: READ THE INSTRUCTION ON HOW TO USE BOTH SITES!!!! The 1st tier are direct fits, while the 2nd tier are indirect fits. This exercise will help you capacity plan your forward curve of opportunity with the agencies, and also give you direction for your annual business plan submission to the SBA; a requirement of the 8(a) program.
The greatest challenge you will face is being responsive to opportunities that are not in your immediate geography. This challenge is easily surmounted by increasing your logistical capacity footprint through teaming. You can find detailed capability profiles and database querying capability in the Dynamic Small Business Search @ http://web.sba.gov/pro-net/search/dsp_dsbs.cfm .
KNOW THE Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)
You wouldn’t play Monopoly without knowing the rules of engagement, would you? Well, the same applies to the game of government procurement. The government “playbook” can be found, in search-able form, @ http://www.arnet.gov/far/. The FAR, in my opinion, is the MVP of information sources in the government space. The reasons will become apparent as you immerse yourself in the “game”.
To stick with my hyperbole, government procurement is a “Contact Sport”, make sure you don’t go into the deep water unless you are primed to swim with the sharks. Until then, stay near the coastline while you refine your chops.
– Rudy Sutherland, the 8-PAC Editor
8(a) Certified Entrepreneur & Small Business Evangelist