Tips for selling to state and local governments (with related video)
Editor’s note: Procurement technical assistance centers work to expand the number of businesses capable of participating in the government marketplace. The Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) is the professional organization of and for Defense Logistics Agency -funded Procurement Technical Assistance Programs. There are over 300 local Procurement Technical Assistance offices in the U.S. APTAC is based in Gallatin, Tenn. In 2012, PTACs served more than 72,000 clients and helped them win over $14.1 billion in government contracts and subcontracts.
APTAC and its director of communications, Mary McGovern, surveyed APTAC members on their favorite tips for selling to state and local governments. Here is a brief list of those tips.
– Do your research. Determine to which agency or agencies you want to sell, visit their website and find out how they do their purchasing. Do they have a purchasing department, or can each department do its own purchasing? Are there certifications or preference designations you should pursue (ie: in-state, small, small disadvantaged, woman-owned, veteran-owned, etc.)? Do they use DUNS numbers, NAICS or NIGP codes? There is a huge variance in purchasing practices among states, and even among counties or cities within the same state. Learn how your target market operates.
– Create a one-page Capability Statement which lists your capabilities, tailored to match the mission of the agency you are targeting. It should also include information such as your DUNS number, CAGE code, NAICS codes (4-5 maximum) and any certifications your business holds if your target agency uses such data, as well as the size of your business and a few pictures of your firm’ products and/or projects. Keep the language simple and straightforward and be specific about what you do. NEVER show too many capabilities. Make a separate capability statement for each of your specialties. If you provide both plumbing and carpentry services, then have one capability statement for each of those. Keep it simple and to the point.
– Identify the path to the buyer inside each agency you are targeting and send that buyer your Capability Statement with a request to forward it to the appropriate end user, copying you on that e-mail if possible. If agency buyers send you a solicitation, always thank them, even if you decide not to bid on it. Doing so will increase the likelihood that you will continue to receive solicitations from them in the future.
– Contact your local Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) for help with all of the activities noted above. PTAC counselors are familiar with state and local government purchasing practices in your area. They can help you determine which agencies to target and how best to market your company. Many PTACs also hold “match-making” events to connect local businesses with city, county and state government buyers. Most importantly, their help is available at low or no cost. To learn more about PTACs and find the one nearest to you PTAC, visit this site.
Editor’s note: One more tip in addition to those listed above: Govalytics is an information source that provides local government budget and capital planning intelligence that helps prospective contractors effectively engage with the governments that fit them best.
In this video, Oklahoma PTAC Procurement Counselor Judy Warren shares a tip that can help save time in preparing Contract Proposals and Capabilities Statements.