The Secrets To Winning GSA Contracts
As a small business owner you may have heard of a General Services Administration Federal Supply Schedules contract, more commonly known as a “GSA contract”, but what is it exactly? How does it work? Is it difficult to obtain? Is it worth the time and effort to research, submit and manage?
[wcm_restrict]What is a “GSA Contract” anyway? Picture yourself on bended knee, proposing to the GSA. Tell them all about yourself….what you do, your terms and conditions, how the two of you will make a great team! As long as your proposal meets their standards they will award you a contract, as this is a non-competitive proposal. The GSA contract proves to a potential federal buyer that you are a responsible vendor.
Remember – a GSA contract is NO guarantee of sales. It has been compared to getting a hunting license – you still have to go out there and hunt for the sales, but now you have some legitimacy in the eyes of procurement officers. You have proven your willingness to dedicate time and resources to getting Approved Vendor status.
Minimum Sales Requirement: You will NOT be awarded a GSA Schedule contract unless the Contracting Officer estimates your sales will exceed $25,000 in the first 2 years and $25,000/year thereafter.
Patience and Perseverance: How long do you think it would take you to become a vendor of Wal-Mart or IBM or General Electric or any other Fortune 500 company? How hard would it be to get an appointment to make your sales pitch? How long would it take you to prepare the presentation? Fly to the corporate offices? How many more appointments would it take before you get any results?
The federal government is the biggest customer in the entire world for what you do. They have opened the door and asked you to make your presentation from the convenience of your office. They offer staff to assist you; they are fair and impartial; and you never have to take them to lunch!
Return on Investment (ROI). No doubt about it, a GSA Contract can be a wonderful opportunity, but you need to be aware of the investment of time and effort you need to make in order to submit, maintain and manage it. Remember, a GSA contract does NOT guarantee sales. If you make the effort to submit the proposal but do not subsequently work to market it, you risk making very few sales, and your time will have been wasted. Be prepared to do some initial research; find out if there is a demand for your products and services, and who your competition will be.[/wcm_restrict][wcm_nonmember]
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About the Author
Deborah Alston has worked for many years with small businesses, helping them with all aspects of federal government contracting. She has consulted with small businesses from many different industries, working closely with them to submit their GSA Schedule proposal; the Department of Defense’s ‘E-Mall’ proposal, and several other industry-specific federal procurement programs. In 2008, she co-authored the successful book Winning Government Contracts (Career Press 2008) with Malcolm Parvey. The book showed small businesses how to get involved in selling to the federal government, taking a step-by-step approach, and assuming no previous knowledge of this marketplace. In 2010, she partnered with Malcolm Parvey again to co-authored The Definitive Guide to Government Contracts (Career Press 2010) which included details on how to research, submit and maintain a GSA Schedule Contract award. Deborah can be reached at [email protected].