Many competitors are potential partners – especially if they are eligible for a set-aside program that is different from yours.
So, reach out to potential partners who can help you access contract vehicles or set asides. Go back to USASpending to see which companies are the top vendors in your target agency in each major small business program. You can find a primary point for these companies in the Dynamic Small Business Search.
Need points of contact for the large primes who hold the top contracts you want to be part of? The Small Business Administration’s Commercial Market Representatives can help you make connections with primes that have small business subcontracting obligations.
Then: start calling. Start with the easiest ones: get in touch with your best customers from last year. Ask them who they suggest you should be calling on. Find out who else they know is involved in making buying decisions for what you do. Ask whether you could get their advice on how to tweak your capability statement to appeal to the person they suggest.
Because you’ve already looked at the federal agency forecasts, an equally easy next step into a new agency is the small business specialist. But instead of asking about where the opportunities are, start by explaining what problem you solve, mentioning a past performance result you achieved for a buyer like this agency, and say, “I’d like your advice. If you were me, who would you be talking to?”
Once you’re connected with the right person, you can ask whether they can verify what you’ve learned about buying plans from the forecast. Ask when new opportunities might be added. Ask if you can share and get their feedback on your capability statement. Find out what they like – and don’t – about their current vendors. Ask which agency or industry events they might be planning to attend so you can meet them there.
Successful federal contractors build many relationships inside each federal agency for every major sale. Whether your business is large or small, you’ll also need another deep set of diverse contacts among other contractors to support the teaming that has become essential for growth.
Your market intelligence is the foundation for that effort. Of course, your star contacts are your current clients. The next tier: the people they recommend to you.
Once you get beyond personal contacts, start digging deeply into your target agency’s web site for contact lists. Include in your search: small business specialists, program staff, and officials who are listed on special agency task forces that are setting standards or program direction.
Go back to the Small Business / “Doing Business…” pages of your target agencies and the acquisition forecasts. Add the points of contact from forecast acquisitions that fit your company. And add the Small Business Specialists in each target agency.
FedBizOpps is useful in a way you might not have expected. Go back through the past year of contract award notices on FedBizOpps or, for an even easier more timely set of search results, go to FEDMINE for products or services like yours. Scroll down to the bottom of each one, pick up those points of contact, and add them to your contact database for calls, too! Typically that’s the Contracting Officer; it might be the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative.
– Judy Bradt, Sunnit Insight