Selling your products or services to the government can mean a significant source of revenue for your business, but it is not for everyone. For example, once you complete the detailed and lengthy certification process for becoming a qualified government contractor, you business must then invest time and resources on an ongoing basis to:
- Locate buyers
- Submit bids
- Work as a subcontractor to a larger company that acts as the prime contractor
- Financially support long payment terms
While these circumstances are not for everyone, for businesses that do master the process, the rewards can be significant. For example, federal, state, and local government agencies buy everything from toothpicks and cleaning services to spaceships and cancer research. More than half of what the government spends goes to the purchase of services—making services the government’s single largest spending category.
The key is to determine which government agencies buy the products and/or services that your business sells and how they contract for such products or services. From this knowledge, you will then need to develop a focused marketing strategy to target those specific agencies and keep these tips in mind:
Get to know the agencies procurement officer, the operating administrator and who uses the products or services
- Focus on your niche and prioritize your marketing strategy accordingly
- Schedule appointments and attend contracting sessions
Network, network, network because the better you know who, why and when, the better your chances are of winning the bid
- Be persistent, consistent, professional and follow through on every commitment you make
For help with identifying your market niche within the federal government as well as learning about regulations, systems, resources, opportunities, and training, visit Acquisition Central.
Once you have confirmed that the government does contract for the products or services that you offer, you may begin the registration process. For help with this process, there is a resource called the Procurement Technical Assistance Program (PTAP). PTACs, or Procurement Technical Assistance Centers are a local resource available at no or nominal cost that can provide assistance to business firms in marketing products and services to the federal, state, and local governments.
On of the first steps in the registration process is to identify the Federal Supply Class or Service (FSC/SVC) codes and the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes for your products and services. You will also need a DUNS number, which stands for Data Universal Numbering System and may be obtained from Dun and Bradstreet.
Once you have this information, you will need to register at Central Contractor Registration (CCR), which is the primary registrant database for the U.S. Federal Government that collects, validates, stores and disseminates data relative to government contracting. In addition to registering with CCR, you may also be required to register with the Department of Defense (DoD) and some other departments and agencies depending on the markets that you choose to do business in.
Having identified a viable government market for your products and services and completed the registration process, it is now time to begin researching and pursuing sales contracts. Here again, your local Procurement Technical Assistance Centers can be a valuable source of guidance. For example, PTAC may help you sign up to receive contract opportunity notices by email based on your area of market interest.
Additional ways to pursue government contract opportunities include browsing online by agency via FedBizOpps.gov or accessing a List of Federal Buying Sources through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Web site.
For further help with securing government contracts, download a Guide to DOD Contracting Opportunities -- a Step-by-Step Approach to the DOD Marketplace.
SME Small Business Learning Series
1. Introduction to Government Contracting (new article)
2. Acquisition Central
3. Procurement Technical Assistance Centers
4. Federal Supply Class or Service (FSC/SVC) codes
5. North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes
6. DUNS number (Data Universal Numbering System)
7. Central Contractor Registration (CCR)
9. List of Federal Buying Sources
10. Guide to DOD Contracting Opportunities --
a Step-by-Step Approach to the DOD Marketplace