Want to Utilize GSA Sales for Your Business?

Want to Utilize GSA Sales for Your Business?

Here is the Process

The overall federal GSA sales volume exceeded $40 billion in 2019. Time to let federal GSA buyers enter your business too!  In many aspects the process is not intuitive, and requires a lot of input, but the final prize is well-worth the effort. In this post we’ll try to summarize everything you need to know about the process of getting a GSA contract.

General information

What is GSA

For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time, we’ll start from basics. The General Services Administration is a federal agency whose sole goal is to provide smooth functioning of other federal agencies, by providing them with simple and reliable procurement vehicles, so that each government organization could purchase goods and services it needs to do its job.

What are GSA contracts?

GSA contracts, also called Schedules, are procurement vehicles the government uses to order certain products and services from vendors. Typically, a GSA Schedule is a 5-year contract that allows a vendor to register on the GSA Advantage! system, and participate in GSA auctions, by placing bids and responding to published RFQ and RFP solicitations.

How do GSA contracts help businesses?

Applying for a GSA contract is a great opportunity to rev up your sales. Think of it this way: the volume of GSA contracts won by small businesses annually is more than $10 billion dollars. That’s huge. And these are small businesses, just like yours. Hence, winning a contract can propel your business up in just a few years, and can even bring you to the top league, if you do it right.

What to do to cut a piece of federal GSA sales

Let’s break the process down to steps and see what you should do to become a GSA certified vendor.

Step 1: Get ready

The process of obtaining a GSA contract can easily take a year or more. And you should be well prepared for any outcome, positive or negative. Make sure to ask yourself important questions before you pursue a government contract. Also, GSA eLibrary and GSA Vendor Support Center are good sources of information to learn everything about the GSA contracting system in and out, before you jump in.

Step 2: Register

If somehow your business is still not registered, you will now need to get it done. First of all, you need to register with the System for Award Management at SAM.gov. In turn, this registration requires your business to have a NAICS code and a D.U.N.S. number, issued by Dun & Bradstreet. You can refer to our tutorial on becoming a GSA contractor for more info.

Step 1: Put the required documents together

GSA procurement systems require you to fill in a number of documents in order to become a certified GSA partner. These documents include not only mandatory forms, but also a number of financial, statistical and organizational documents: price proposal, labor categories, legal documents and agreements, past performance reports, and more. This step is crucial, because the majority of wannabe government contractors fail at providing the required, and duly completed documents, on time  Every mistake here results in months of additional waiting time, and efforts.

Step 4: Apply for a Schedule

Submit your documents and wait until the procurement officer reviews your submission. This process is rather slow, so arm yourself with patience. Sometimes, you can greatly reduce the review time by simplifying the procurement officer’s work. Taking a look at the federal GSA process from the federal buyer’s perspective might help.

Step 5: Expand your presence

There are a number of sales platforms under aegis of the GSA where you can find opportunities. The most important channels are:

·         GSA Advantage! – a system where federal buyers typically look for offers from vendors. On average, GSA Advantage has over 400k registered federal buyers surfing this platform for products and services published there. Submitting your product catalog to GSA Advantage requires you to register at the eOffer/eMod system.

·         GSA eBuy – this system is another procurement platform. While GSA Advantage is for micro-purchases, GSA eBuy targets mostly larger contracts. As a GSA certified vendor you gain access to GSA eBuy submissions automatically.

·         FedMall – this is an online acquisition platform for the Department of Defense. Here is a good tutorial on FedMall basics.

Submitting your products and services to every compatible government sales platform would enable you to catch every  published opportunity to sell to the government.

Step 6: Market to the government

While the federal market has lower competition than its commercial cousin, you still need to market your company, to let government buyers know about your products. This requires searching for opportunities, monitoring bids, responding to RFQs, analyzing trends and competition. There are tools to forecast future procurements and analyze past spending. You should use every available tool to make sure the efforts you put into winning a contract are not in vane.

We understand that all of this perhaps sounds very Greek to you now, but believe us: when you get into how the GSA systems work, you will see that the federal market is not very different from the commercial market. It does have some peculiarities and specifics, though. You can start learning about government marketing by reading our article here.

Is it really worth the effort?

You might ask yourself: if everything is so good, there are billions of dollars waiting for me, and the application process is complex but totally doable, why doesn’t everyone sell to the government, to start with? Perhaps, GSA sales are not that profitable after all?

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of GSA contracting:

  1. You open up one of the largest markets in the world. Schedules encompass almost everything the government needs. And there’s certainly a place for your products, too.
  2. The contract is long-term. Once you are awarded, you can sell to the government for 5 years, with three prolongations for another 5 years each,  totaling to 20 years!
  3. Competition is relatively low. The procedure to become a certified vendor is complex enough to cut off the majority of companies that fail to comply with strict requirements of the GSA.
  4. Prices remain fixed for the entire duration of the contract. While there are some exceptions, the rule of thumb is: after the initial price negotiation, prices remain the same. No price fluctuations mean stable sales and a guaranteed profit.
  5. Reputation. If you have that GSA Approved logo on your website, you basically proclaim “the government trusts me”. It is easy to imagine how your prospects will react. Trusting the same vendor as the government does is very easy.
  6. You save on marketing. Due to low competition and the fact the many federal agencies are obliged to buy via GSA Advantage or GSA eBuy, you can spend less on marketing, in comparison with your typical spending on the commercial market. Mostly, you will invest time, not money.
  7. You can win really huge contracts. There is no ceiling for order size with GSA contracts. Many Schedules are capped at $1,000,000 or more. And the sales are almost guaranteed as long as you are awarded, and continue to put your efforts into finding opportunities.

In conclusion

Utilizing federal GSA Sales for your business is a matter of some hard work. Totally uncharted waters at first, GSA acquisition will become clearer to you once you dive deeper into the matter, and start soaking up information. And if you need consultation from professionals who have been successfully helping companies to get their GSA contracts for a decade and a half, please don’t hesitate to contact Price Reporter.

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