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June 07, 2018

Government Sector

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By one estimate, there are 80,000 government agencies whose aggregate purchases from companies just like yours amount to billions of dollars worth of products and services.

Before you can start the government sales cycle spinning you should settle on exactly which of your many goods or services you plan on selling to government. At this point you should become familiar with the NIGP, or the National Institute of Government Purchasing index. This is a listing of all the goods and services that government agencies typically buy.

This will be your first indication if there is a government market for your company’s offering. This will save you a lot of time and energy calling and hoofing around and bothering purchasing agents who have no interest in what you are selling.

You should also visit any agency’s website and click on the procurement tab to find what things that particular agency buys. This will tell you if that potential buyer needs your company’s offering.

Next, prepare a hard market analysis for your own sanity and for internal use. This will be invaluable for demonstrating the opportunity to senior management. The analysis should cover the following:
  • A hard, objective look at the opportunity.
  • A matrix comparison of the job requirements and the capabilities of your offering 
  • Admit to yourself how well or poorly your offering matches the requirements
  • To avoid leaving money on the table, search public information and determine what your prospect and other comparable agencies have paid for similar offers. 
  • Based on public information and your knowledge of the market, see if you can figure out who your competitors on the procurement may be and what their bidding habits are.

You next should locate specific bidding opportunities. There are several ways to go about this. One way is to contract with an aggregator. This is a company that will report to you periodically on which agencies have issued tenders for the goods or services that your company supplies. The drawback to this approach is expense.

These reports are costly and most bidding companies will not have the bandwidth to respond to more that a fraction of the opportunities for which you are paying. In addition, much of the information is repeated from report to report to report. So, you will be paying repeatedly for the same data and you will be paying for information that you can’t use or which is stale.

An alternative to an aggregation service is retaining a consultant. Make sure your consultant has hand-on experience selling to government not just other contractors. Experience selling in your vertical would be a bonus. This is a much more personal approach than using an aggregator. In the interest of full discloser, Chaddsford Planning provides this service.

A third approach, if you have the time and/or resources is to go it alone and contact thousands of government agencies yourself to determine if they purchase what you are selling and then to continue dialing for dollars until you find the right person who has purchasing authority and can buy from you.

The next step is to identify the requirement of the job. in order to for your potential customer to do business with you you will be required to submit a formal written proposal that accomplishes three things. 1) specifies exactly what you are offering, 2) specifies exactly what you expect in return, 3) shows precisely how your offer solves the agency’s problem.

It is a lot of work, but there is a lot of reward.


  • Identify a problem in government. Often the government’s procurement documents will do this for you. 
  • Determine which of your company’s products or services can solve that problem.
  •  Determine which executive agency is responsibly for solving the problem.
  • Make a formal written proposal to the procurement officer, hiring a proposal writer if you have to. 
  • Perform a market analysis to determine if the government market, in general, or this specific opportunity, are suitable for your offering or your company.
  • Know the procurement methodology for every bid that you compete for. ▪ Study the criteria by which all the proposals in a bid will be evaluated
  • When you respond to a published solicitation read the solicitation carefully before thinking of responding
  • In contract negotiations avoid antagonistic speech and body language.
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