The last quarter of the federal fiscal year is always important, but in this case it will be unusually so for government contractors.
These three months usually determine whether many businesses will have a great year or something less. This year, though, most agencies more or less limped along until Memorial Day operating under a continuing resolution. Some fed market analysts predict that much more business than usual is in play between now and September 30th. Your company should be in full pursuit mode already.
Here are six tips that your business needs to employ now so you can close more of the federal business opportunities you’re after:
While it’s true that contractors can’t close themselves off completely from new opportunities, the tendency for most is to not be focused enough. The “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach to federal business is frustrating, time-consuming and, above all else, really doesn’t work. Your team should have a good pipeline of opportunities through the end of the fiscal year. Apply the “80-20” rule and focus most of your time on these. They probably represent the projects you know most about, the places where you have the strongest relationships, and where you know something about how the acquisition will be conducted. Don’t keep your eyes closed to what’s happening around you, but don’t get distracted from your core pipeline, either.
Maintain and strengthen relationships
Every company thinks it has the “best” relationship with a potential buyer. In reality, only one company really does. Make sure it’s you. If you haven’t seen your top prospects lately, an in-person discussion should be at the top of your list. Relationships matter just as much as process in federal acquisition.
It’s not only feds you should call on, however - it’s your business partners. Make sure you let them know about your latest capabilities, contract vehicles, size status or whatever else makes your firm special. Have you brought someone business this year? Maybe it’s time to remind them so that they remember your company when they need help closing a deal.
Guard your potential business closely
Now is the time when federal business opportunities you’ve been tracking for months turn into actual acquisitions. Make sure you’ve kept up communication with all parts of the customer’s team: customer, senior staff, money people and contracting. Failure to follow through with one or more of these groups increases the possibility that someone else will end up with business you “knew” would be yours. Similarly, if you’re a re-seller working with an OEM or distributor, make sure you’ve registered the deal through the appropriate channel. If you haven’t done that, chances are good that someone else will. Don’t let carefully prepared groundwork go to waste. Follow through until the project is yours.
Assisted aquisition opportunities are closing fast
If you or your customer likes using assisted acquisition offices, like GSA, FEDSIM, Interior’s National Business Center or another assisted buying group, time is running out for this fiscal year. Most assisted buying shops will not take new work after July, with some closing in mid-month. While a few organizations may take smaller projects in August, it will soon be time to move on to other business methods for the remainder of this year.
Strengthen small business ties
If you’re a certified small business, this is the time of year to let both federal buyers and industry partners know it, particularly if you have an additional status like veteran-owned. If you’re a large business, make sure your small business partners are committed to working with you through the end of the year.
Harried federal buyers like to turn to small businesses near fiscal year-end to move as many projects off their desk as possible. Make sure you know the rules on how feds can buy from you easily and quickly, and be prepared to walk a Contracting Officer through the process. You’ll close more business and develop critical relationships that can pay off this year and next.
Closely tied to this are the ability to understand how simplified acquisitions (up to $150,000, or more in some cases) work and how micropurchases paid for with a government credit card can allow smaller buys to avoid a host of regulatory hurdles. Reminding customers of flexibility they have helps them help you.
Consistently monitor eBuy
Do you hold a GSA Schedule or a different GSA contract? You need to know about GSA eBuy. This is the time of year when smart companies monitor eBuy several times a day. If you see an open project in your wheelhouse, bid on it. Companies that weren’t originally selected by the customer do win business this way, especially at year-end. If you’re not watching eBuy, your firm IS losing business.
The time between now and September 30th – the longest day of the year in contracting – is likely your company’s make or break time for federal business success. Don’t get distracted, fail to pay attention or decide that you’d really like to take August off. Follow these tips, employ common sense, and you can enjoy football season right after busy season closes.