Your guide to federal contracts

Are you out there thinking that since my company doesn’t build or repair ships, doesn’t do IT work, and doesn’t have military subject matter experts to provide to the government I can’t possibly sell in the federal marketplace? If so, don’t think that way! The federal government buys everything! But wait, you say, “my company sells organic cotton grocery totes”, well they buy those too. My company does landscape work; guess what, they buy that also.
The real question is: “How do I find out if the federal government buys the product or service I sell?” It’s easy and in doing this research you can actually learn much more about selling to the government. One way, but not the only way, is to look at what the government buys using a contracting process call a “GSA Schedule” (to learn more about GSA go to www.gsa.gov). GSA is not for “start-ups” but if you have a solid business selling a product or service in the commercial marketplace then having a GSA Schedule is something you might want to explore.

Step 1: Go to the GSA Advantage web site, www.gsaadvantage.gov
Step 2: Use the search function (selecting either Product or Service) to list what you sell
Step 3: The search will bring up who is selling that product or service and their pricing
Step 4: Click on the link for the company selling the product or service and that will take you to their GSA Advantage web page
Step 5: Check out their catalog (they are required to have one) and learn more about what they provide, what they charge for it and how they sell it (by the hour, by the day, in what quantities)
Step 6: Click on the company’s business web page and in most cases you will find out who their customers are. Now you can answer the question: “who do I market to?”

By following these steps (should take about 3 minutes) you will know for a fact if the federal government buys your product or service, who your competitors are, who they sell to, and what they charge the government. THIS DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO BE ON A GSA SCHEDULE TO SELL. But it doesn’t hurt and there is a reason your competitors are on a Schedule.

So, don’t make any unfounded assumptions. Get out there and do your research. It could lead to new customers and increased sales.