If you are a business new to the federal marketplace or an experienced company that would like to grow new business by expanding your customer base there are four elements to my “foot-in-the-door” formula that can help you achieve new business success.
First, there is the increasing use of LPTA (lowest price technically acceptable) for source selection in awarding contracts. While many contractors don’t like this method of evaluating and awarding contracts it presents opportunities to those new to federal contracting. When LPTA is used your company doesn’t have to be the most qualified or have the most relevant past performance you just have to be able to present enough capabilities to be “technically acceptable.” This is a lower threshold than for a “best value” source selection and opens the door to those vendors with less experience but who can do the job and who can sharpen their pencils to present a highly competitive price.
The second part of the formula is timing. Right now we are in what I call the “4th Quarter Crazies.” That is, and I’ve written other blogs and articles about this, government buyers are trying to match up their internal customers’ needs with end of year funding. This can result in the issuing of many smaller dollar amount requirements with a very short turn-around time. You need to be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities during this very busy procurement period. There are two very specific methods to take advantage of these opportunities that are parts three and four of the “formula.”
The third element of my formula is being ready to accept government credit cards. For purchases under $3000 any federal employee who has a government-issued credit card and is an authorized buyer for that particular agency can make an immediate decision to buy needed goods and services. All businesses are eligible to compete for these micro-purchases which amount to billions of dollars in sales every year. This is part of a beneficial rule for small business that states that the federal government will set-aside most contract opportunities that are valued from $3,000 to $150,000 for small business.
So the fourth part of the foot-in-the-door formula is to understand the government’s Simplified Acquisition Methods and most importantly those that are greater than $3000 but less than $25,000. If the total dollar value of a contract award is less than $25,000 it is not required that the opportunity be publicly advertised. This could mean that only those vendors who have developed good relationships with that specific contracting activity will be aware of the opportunity and have a chance to bid on and win on of these contracts.
If you work this “formula” you can get in the door with these lower dollar value contract awards and start building your past performance and customer satisfaction “resume bullets.” This gets your foot in the door so that you can come through the fully open door to win larger and more complex contracts that will support taking your company to the next level.