What You Can Do to Grow Revenue

What You Can Do to Grow Revenue

Through GSA Advantage & eBuy Contracts

While GSA contracts could be a constant flow of revenue, surprisingly many vendors never sell enough through GSA to barely compensate time and effort it had taken them to win the contract. What should you do to avoid the same outcome for your own GSA Advantage and eBuy contracts? Read along to learn how to increase your revenues through these government platforms.

What are GSA Advantage! and GSA eBuy?

GSA Advantage is an online government shopping platform managed by GSA. Functionally, it is very similar to Amazon, where you can search for specific goods or vendors, filter out results, browse product categories, and so on. The difference comes from the fact that GSA Advantage is a governmental sales platform, which means that only GSA-certified vendors can publish their product catalogs and price-lists there.

GSA Advantage is undoubtedly the largest online market that targets federal agencies, and allows them to purchase products and services in hundreds of categories, including construction industry, IT, computers, medical equipment, office supplies, professional services, cleaning services, and more.

GSA Advantage is the main platform, and many agencies purchase what they need mainly through GSA Advantage online services. Overall, in 2019 the volume of sales via GSA Advantage exceeded $30 billion.

GSA eBuy open market is also an online catalog, where government purchasers can hire professional services. The exact mechanism is as follows: the federal buyer publishes a Request for Quotation (RFQ) or a Request for Proposal (RFP), and vendors then can respond to RFQs and RFPs, by placing their bids and/or proposals.

When you are awarded by a GSA Schedule, you can start selling your products or services via both of these platforms. However, just being there does not automatically guarantee sales. There is a lot you should do to grow your revenue through GSA Advantage and eBuy.

How to grow revenue through GSA Advantage and eBuy

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In this section we will review some ways to promote better sales through GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage! Some of these tips and methods work for both platforms, while others are only applicable to just one of them.

Set the stage for future sales

Sales do not emerge magically. You need to prepare for them, and this often means you need to start early. Monitor and soak up everything: press-releases published by federal agencies and your competitors, news in the industry, publications on agency websites and so on. Your goal is twofold: gather intelligence on future opportunities and prepare for them beforehand. Hence, when an agency finally opens an RFQ, you are ready to grab it and propose the best offer.

Establish connections

Personal connections are always important, and meeting agency personnel is absolutely vital in terms of your future GSA Advantage sales. Here is who you need to know at the GSA:

·        Procurement Contracting Officer. This individual negotiates prices, points out discrepancies in contract documentation, and resolves everyday matters involving your GSA contract.

·        Administrative Contracting Officer. After you are awarded, the ACO is responsible for contract modifications, subcontracting issues, sales reporting, and so on.

·        Industrial Operations Analyst. This individual will routinely visit your company to evaluate if it complies with the terms of the contract. This is called Contractor Assistance Visit (CAV). Normally, IOA will visit your company at least twice during the 5-year contracting period. The purpose of these visits is to help you to grow your revenue through GSA eBuy and GSA Advantage,  by helping you fulfill GSA requirements to government contractors.

Meeting these people in person will help establish a good relationship with them, and hence incline them in your favour.

Where do you meet GSA personnel? Monitor all upcoming GSA events, conferences, Industry Days on upcoming acquisitions, and participate in them. You can find government events near you on the GovEvents website.

Market research

Researching the market helps you avoid many pitfalls. By conducting research, you can learn average pricing levels in your niche, estimate your competition, compare supply and demand, see proposals by other vendors, learn acquisition trends across multiple agencies. Mapping this information to news, press-releases, and other intelligence you’ve gathered before, allows you to predict future procurements, and hence obtain business opportunities with the government that all other companies may simply overlook.

Here are some tools you can use to research the government market:

  • FPDS-NG – a reporting tool to see what agencies purchase.
  • SAM.gov – this portal offers an updated tool with many filters and other GSA eBuy search capabilities.
  • Federal Acquisition Jumpstation. A source of information on federal acquisitions, broken down by agencies.
  • GSA Schedule Sales Query (SSQ) tool provides galore of information on federal purchases as reported by vendors.
  • USASpending.gov delivers information on every federal contract, GSA or not.

Please also make sure to read our government market research guide for other tools and methods.

Promote your business as GSA contractor

When you are awarded – flaunt it. Being a GSA contractor is a sign of trust from the government, so make sure to tell everybody about it. Place a GSA and GSA Advantage logos on your website. Add it to your printed media. Include the reference to GSA in your social media page, and in your email messages.

This helps you in two ways. First, when a federal agency staff monitors the market, she will be able to identify you as a current GSA contractor who sells through GSA Advantage and GSA eBuy. See? Without doing anything, you’ve already attracted attention from a possible government client. Then, your conventional clients will also see you as a successful GSA-certified vendor, that also promotes future contracts on the commercial market. 

Participate in GSA MAS Contractor Team Arrangement (CTA)

The GSA MAS Contractor Team Arrangement program allows two or more GSA vendors to cooperate, in order to meet expectations of  federal agencies. Let’s suppose you desperately want some contract, and you are ready for a part of it, while the other part lies beyond the scope of your business. In this case, the government allows several MAS contractors to work together, to deliver the complete solution. A CTA is beneficial both for the government and vendors.

If you want to consider a CTA as an option, you will need to find other GSA contractors that would be willing to team up with you, and share your risks and rewards.

Subcontracting

Another way to win a seemingly unwinnable contract and increase your GSA Advantage! sales is either to cooperate with some private small businesses as a prime contractor, or quite the opposite; cooperate with some larger business as a subcontractor. Both ways allow you to secure otherwise unachievable sales, often without a hassle of fulfilling additional requirements.

Mentor/protégé program

What if your business is really small, as in “too small for those scary GSA eBuy contracts”? In fact, you still can be a successful government contractor, thanks to the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé program. This program aims to help small businesses enter the world of government procurements by pairing up with an experienced GSA contractor as a protégé. Not only does this allow you to learn from your mentor a lot, but you can also participate in a number of set-aside contracts your business is eligible for, by forming a Joint Venture with your mentor.

Build your reputation

Another powerful tool to receive more GSA eBuy contracts and increase your revenue, is your reputation as a government contractor. The Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) is a web-enabled electronic system that reports and rates contractor performance. When a contracting officer reviews your proposal, she uses CPARS as a source of information about past performance of a contractor. If you deliver services and goods in time, manage to keep the highest quality, and offer competitive prices, your reputation as a reliable and competent contractor will gradually build up. Eventually your reputation will stay ahead of you, thereby allowing you to win more contracts with less effort.

Maintain your GSA Advantage/eBuy catalog

You would be surprised to know how many active GSA vendors fail to win contracts and even get their Schedule terminated, just because they weren’t updating their GSA Advantage catalog in a timely manner. After you list your product on GSA Advantage, it is mandatory to keep all the files up to date. Specifically, GSA requires updating of files at least every two years.

Here is what must be updated:

  • accordingly. Otherwise, you are risk losing your contract.
  • r- assigned product number, instead of internal SKUs, for easier identification.
  • the procurement programs you participate in, such as: Blanket Purchase Agreements, and State and Local options.

Look at it from the federal buyer’s perspective

Knowing how federal buyers think and make decisions is always helpful in understanding the government’s needs and requirements. By looking at the procurement process from the federal buyer’s perspective, you can make the best offer. Please refer to this article for more information.

Leverage third-party assistance

The key to success is to keep going. You must run as fast as you can just to stay in place. Keep reading news and press-releases regarding any upcoming changes to GSA Advantage. Make sure to refer to the GSA Vendor Support Center and ask any questions you may have. VSC is a great source of information regarding almost every single aspect of federal acquisition, so make sure you use it.

Another way to help you grow your revenue through GSA Advantage and eBuy, is to hire a third-party agency. GSA professionals have years of experience behind them, and know many ins and outs to bring your GSA sales up, at minimum costs. Don’t hesitate to contact Price Reporter, we will be glad to help you.

Also on pricereporter.com