Selling To The Government: Is It Right For Your Iowa Business?

Okay. Well I have noon right on
the dot, so let’s get started. So again, I want to
welcome everybody to today’s webinar on selling to
the government, is it right for
you? My name is Valyn Reinig, and I’ll be
serving as today’s webinar
moderator. I’m with Iowa Source Link and
the UNI Center for Business,
Growth, and Innovation. So just a few items before we
kick of today’s presentation,
we do record all of our webinars, and we
make them available on Iowa
Source Link usually within a week. There is a public
comments box. That is there for you to interact
or share something with the
group. If we do encounter technical difficulties
and get disconnected during
a webinar, just stay in the webinar room or use the
same link that you got in to
reaccess it. Chelsea Morrison will be our
technical support lead for
today. And she can also work with you
one on one if you’re experiencing
technical difficulties. And she’s going to be typing
her number in the box. In the lower right hand corner
there is another box for questions and answers. So we’ll
try to get to as many of those
questions as we can. So if you do have a question,
go ahead and put it in that
box. At the end of the webinar, we
will be having a survey. We welcome suggestions for
future webinars. Tell us how
we did today. Your feedback is very valuable
to us. So our guest speaker today is Pam
Russenberger with the ISU
Center for Industrial Research and Service. Today
she’ll be covering why you
might be interested in government sales and what
resources are available to
you as you pursue this path. So just a little bit of background
about Pam. She joined Iowa State University CIRAS in 2012
where she is now the program
director for the Procurement
Technical Assistance Program.
Pam’s professional experience includes over nine
years in the aerospace and defense industry. She is
experienced in multiple
facets of business management including contract
management, financial
management, master planning, proposal preparation, and data
analysis with a focus on the pursuit and execution of
government contracts. She earned her Bachelor’s
Degree in Political Science
from Minnesota State University and an MBA with a
focus on change management
from the university of Colorado. So with that, let’s
welcome Pam and get started. – Great. Thanks you so much,
Valyn, for that warm
introduction. I’m so happy to be here today. And thank you
to Iowa Source Link for sponsoring this event. As Valyn mentioned, I’m with
the Center for Industrial
Research and Service. We’ve been here for over fifty years
with Iowa State University. We have a vast network of
resources that support our mission. We provide proven services
through our approach of
engage, educate, and embed, and offer a return on
investment averaging over two hundred percent. So how
we do that is our goal is to improve the profitability of
business and to allow your
business to prosper and grow. Our proven services are
customized services that are rooted in both
applied research and established
best practices. We have subject matter experts
in CIRAS that can help you provide those one on one
counseling as well as the services in order to help
your company meet their
goal. Our approach of engage,
educate, and embed, we could look at that as we
engage with you to truly
understand what your goals are for your company. We
provide education in order to meet those goals, and then
we embed. So we aren’t just
there to support that one off solution or
answer that question one time, but really be there as a
resource for your company
as you continue to grow and see if there’s any
other opportunities for us to continue to help you meet your
needs. That return on investment of two hundred percent, for my
program, the program I support in government contracting, that
return on investment is going
to look like the return on your time spent.
Our services [unintelligible] two hundred percent against
those paid services. So it’s a great opportunity for you to
leverage the resource
within CIRAS. The vast networks that we have,
and we have partnerships
throughout the state and throughout the
nation that we can leverage
to ensure we are that innovative integrator of resources
throughout the state and
nation to ensure that you have what you need in order
to be successful if we can’t
provide that resource in house to help connect you with
who can. This is a snapshot of the network that we have across
Iowa State and the nation. We have our internal Iowa State
partners through different labs and extension
organizations as well as our external partners, our federal
funders, the ABI, Association of Business and
Industry, and then our affiliates,
those that we work with at community colleges,
chambers of commerce,
UNI, a number of different affiliates, many more
that aren’t even necessarily
in this chart, that we work with and
coordinate with in order to
ensure that we are providing the best service to
you. Also, my program and CIRAS,
we provide support for government contracting. And
that support can be found in
one on one counseling. We have different workshops
throughout the state, and we are located throughout
the state. My team has offices in Cedar Rapids, Bettendorf,
Ames, West Des Moines, and Council Bluffs. So there is
someone that is close to you, and if you have
additional questions on
government contracting, I’d be happy to make that
connection for you so that
you can work with a local resource. This is kind of an eye
chart and not really something that you probably
can find yourself in since it is small and so much information,
but really what it shows is the
impact that CIRAS has had over the
last three years through the state. As you can see, we are
represented in all 99 counties with distinct
companies that we’ve worked
with in each county, economic
impact from the government
contracting side with
the government sales, as well as jobs added or
retained. So this is the
snapshot of the impact of CIRAS over the
last three years. As you can see, there’s a dot in every county,
and if you’d like more
information on your specific area, I’d be
happy to share that with you
so that you can see the map a little bit more
closely. So let’s jump right in to
government sales. You maybe we wondering why
would you even consider
selling to the government. We’ve posted ten myths of
selling to the government via a blog post for Iowa Source
Link a couple months ago. And you know a lot of those
may force you to think. Hopefully it removes some of
the misconceptions. But why
would you even be interested in doing business with the
government? Well first, they
buy everything. When we talk about the
[unintelligible] How we think about the
government is not just
federal government. It’s not just selling to the
Department of Defense. It’s not
just tanks and heavy artillery and things for the troops. You
know we do help companies
with federal contracting items, but it goes
much much broader than that. The
government sell we think of
is not just federal, but state governments
and selling to the state of Iowa
or other states as well as local
governments, selling to
your cities, or even school. So if you are
wanting to do business with a public school or with a local
municipality or even a board of regents school.
Anything that leverages
government funding is something that we consider a
government sale. So if you think about it from that
perspective, the government
truly does by everything. I always say they buy
[unintelligible]. Literally,
soup and nuts. And anything from a rocket to get you to the moon to the
service to mow the lawns in rest areas. The government really does
procure everything, and identifying where within the
government buys what you are selling. You know
it is kind of an easy market entry. I always like
to say that because once you’re registered and understand the
market and who to sell to, you can just start bidding on
contracts. You don’t have to have any other special things in
place. You really just need to
understand where to be, have the appropriate
registrations, and you can
start submitting bids. The government also has small
business programs which help with access into government
sales. Those small business
programs are at all levels. The federal government
has small business programs
that require the government to sell to a
certain percentage of their contract to
small business or even areas of socioeconomic
categories within those small businesses. For example,
women owned small business
or veteran owned small businesses or businesses with
socioeconomic concerns. So there’s a lot of
different avenues for small business to have
access to government sales that they don’t have to
compete with large businesses
on. In addition to the federal government, state and
local government also have
small business programs. So the state
of Iowa has their targeted small
business. And I’m actually starting to see
now where cities in Iowa are starting to have small
business programs as well. A city that’s not in Iowa but is
very close, Omaha, has a tier one and tier two small
business program. So those
are also things to look into if those are your target
market to see if their small business programs
could be a potential
differentiator for you. Doing business with the
government, there’s an
additional advantage here from a transparency perspective.
Since it is the government,
everything is available for you to have access to through
Freedom of Information Act
or even just available on the website that the
government maintains.
You should be able to see who was awarded the
contract in the past, what the
dollar value of that award was. Also you have the
opportunity to see forecasting opportunities for
what the government intends to procure in a three to five year
range for certain opportunities. So it really is nice that the
information is out there for
you to review and access and
leverage as you make your
decision on what areas within the
government you are
interested in pursuing from a government sales
perspective. Also for
government sales, a great opportunity is through
teaming. Perhaps you are seeing different
opportunities that you
would be interested in that you could only perform a
certain part of the opportunity.
Well in the government, there is the opportunity for you
to team with another company.
Perhaps you could be a subcontractor to
another firm and perform that element in
order to get your past
performance. So there’s a lot of great opportunities to
team and to get your feet wet
and to start to get that good past performance experience in
the government sector. Also, resources. And that’s a
big part of why we’re here today is to identify that
CIRAS is here as a resource to help you in
your government sales
journey. As I mentioned, I have staff throughout the state
that are here to assist you through a number of different
ways. We offer free one on
one counseling. We offer you
different training and workshop opportunities,
conferences throughout the
state. So those are all opportunities for you to
work with a free resource to help you in your government
contracting journey. And as we go through the presentation, I’ll
give you insight into different ways that CIRAS can help you
specifically in the different areas
that we talk about for selling to the government.
Other available resources are Iowa Source Link, IBA, SBDC. These are all areas that
we work with and actually that we work with throughout the
state in order to ensure that
no matter what your goal is and what you need, that
we’re making sure that you have the right resource
in order to be successful. So I thought it would be good to focus this presentation around
some of the top initial company requests. You know,
we can really go very deep into government contracting and
do a government contracting 101 presentation that would
take you maybe eight hours. And to try to fit it
all into one hour would be just information overload. Too
many facts, figures, numbers,
websites to go to. So we really wanted to
keep it at a top level to help you have the information
that you need in order to really determine if you’re ready to
make the next step to pursue
government contracting. So we wanted to
focus it around these five questions so that you can start
to think about how you want to pursue government
contracting and if it’s right for you and what
are those potential next steps. So the first question is does
selling to the government make sense to you? A first thing
to consider is to do this initial company assessment
and to consider how long have you been in business. The
government doesn’t have
any minimum requirement for being in
business. For the federal
government, there are some requirements
for certain programs that you’ve
been in business for a minimum of two years. But that isn’t for all
federal programs either. So you really need to
consider how long have you
been in the business, and if your business is a new business but
if you’ve had experience in the
past working for someone else and that
experience is directly related
to the government opportunities that you’re looking
to pursue, that could potentially alleviate the number of years of
experience. So you really need
to think about is your business at a point
to be a responsible business that can take on additional work.
What are your core capabilities? This is very
important to consider when
you’re doing business with the government sector. You
want to understand what are
those things that you are best at. We
can’t be everything to everyone, and as
I’ve mentioned, the government
does buy everything. So it’s really
important to focus in on
your core capabilities so that you can really market
appropriately, identify the right agencies and
government sectors that procure what are your core
capabilities. Otherwise you will just be overwhelmed
with all the different agencies to look into, and you
won’t be able to come up with
a nice, focused marketing plan. You
know another thing to consider is your commercial past
performance. If you don’t have experience in the
government sector, that’s
okay. If you have applicable
commercial past performance
that directly maps to whatever the
requirements are in the
government sector, you can leverage that for past
performance and use that
as a way to determine if you could be successful or could
perform on the government side. Also you know you need to think
about your capabilities and
capacity. All of these… When you’re
pursuing any new customer, you need to think about do you
have the capacity in house, not only to expand to
take on additional work, you know to provide additional
product or additional service,
but also do you have the internal
resources to do the marketing
to that new customer sector, the research, the
education. So you really
need to think through do you have those
internal resources and the
capacity to take on another customer
segment. And do you have the capabilities
in house? Do you have not only
the capability to perform these tasks for the taking out an additional
customer segment, but
also do you have the capability to perform the
work as the government wants? When you’re doing business in
the government sector versus
commercially, some of the rules and regulations will be
different. So you need to ensure
that you have the capacity and capability in
order to address those changes. Again, government
contracting specialists, my team members, are here to help
walk you through that and to
walk through what are those differences and
how can you best position yourself in order to be
successful. What does the government buy? You know
do they buy what you sell? You
know as I mentioned, the government buys pretty
much everything. So there
is a chance that at some area of the government, that
they do buy what you sell. That being said, you need to
consider how do they buy it.
And that’s something that we’ll discuss a little bit further,
but even if you sell, for example, computers.
The government may be in a position where they
have long term agreements or agreements in place where they
buy computers directly from Dell or IBM and so they want to
be able to buy from other retailers. So it’s important to
understand how the government
buys and if they buy what you sell. Another thing that we hear a lot
from companies is there’s so much red tape
associated with doing
business in the government sector, and it’s just not worth
my time. And I like to think that yes there are
rules and regulations associated with doing business
in the government sector, but
if you educate yourself and participate in the training
that CIRAS provides, you can easily navigate that red
tape. What’s nice about the government is even if there are
rules and regulations, they’re all public. So there’s nothing
hidden. You always have
access to what the rules of the road
are, and you have a free
resource with CIRAS to help you navigate those
rules of the road. So I really don’t want anyone to feel like
they can’t pursue government contracting because
of the red tape. It’s what it is is you have the opportunity to get
education and training from us here at CIRAS that we’re
able to help you navigate those. You know the next thing you
hear a lot is how does the government buy. And
that’s important, that awareness. The government procures many
different ways from a credit card
purchase to full out request for proposals
that are hundreds of pages long. That’s
where it’s important to understand not only if the
government buys what you
sell, but also how the customer buys,
how the government buys
what you sell. If the government buys what
you sell through credit card, then you can market to those
credit card holders and not
have to worry about completing a large proposal
volume. But if the customer only buys through request for
proposals, then that makes it a little bit different, too, of
how you would approach
those contracting officers, those
purchasing agents to
understand how they buy and how you
should sell stuff. Understanding your piece of the
pie is important so that you can see not only what the
government buys, if they buy
what you sell and how they buy it, but what
their quantity, how often they procure. And
those are all things that are
available for public record for you to see how often
they buy as well as who’s procured it in the past
and at what quantity. So it’s very helpful so that you can see
if they’re only buying an item once every five
years, maybe that isn’t the right agency for
you to look into or you set
up an email alert to take a look in four
years when the five year contract is over. It’s
important to understand how much is out there so that
you can make a good
assessment of what your goal would be
going forward. You really need to be systematic and really focus your approach
on the core competencies. We
always recommend that you focus in on maybe two
to three agencies to start with. If you’re new in the government
sector, maybe focus in on if state and local
government is right for you
and maybe focus in on one state and a couple
local governments in order
to get your feet wet and to really start to understand
the different requirements. Or
perhaps it’s working with some key large
companies to be a subcontractor. You really want to focus in on
what not only the product is that you
feel is a good fit for the government sector, but who are
those agencies that you want to market to. Develop
a marketing plan, and CIRAS, that is something
that CIRAS can help you with
and help you to identify who those good entry
points are and the right way
to market to the government. And then
follow through. You don’t
want to just reach out once. It is a
relationship that you need
to start to develop, and you can’t just take a look at
it, dust it off two years later, and
just hope that magically things
will start to happen. You really do need to
have an approach. You work everyday or weekly or
have some sort of frequency that allows you to meet your
goals just as you would with any other customer in the
commercial sector. The next question that we receive a lot of requests is I hear that there’s so many
opportunities out there to
sell to the government. Where are they? I want to start
bidding. How do I find these opportunities? And it’s going to
come right back to that
education and training. You’re going to think I’m a
broken record here, but it is so important to complete
the education that CIRAS offers as
well as other resource partners in order to understand where
those opportunities are as well as understanding who
your target customer is. If you know who your target customer
is, then you can start to tick
through some of these other questions of where do they do
business. For example, the Department of Veteran
Affairs, they have an office
in Minneapolis that actually buys for offices in other states. So just because the government
agency may be literally in your
back door, the procurement may not
happen there. The procurement
may happen in a more centralized location. So
it’s important to understand
where they’re doing business, if it’s locally, if the purchasing is
happening in a centralized area and then it
is distributed to other states or
other regions. It’s very important, and that will help you
to understand who you should
be marketing to and how to market to them. You
want to understand how do they
do business. Is the product or service that
you’re selling something that they procure via a credit card? Is
it a request for bid? Is it a request for proposal? Each agency has a
requirement as to where and when they need
to post things in a public forum. Unfortunately
there isn’t one location where every single
bid opportunity is posted for every state, every local
government, and federal
government. So that’s where a lot of homework
comes in and that education to
understand where those opportunities are posted.
And CIRAS can help you to
navigate those waters as well. For example, the federal
government, for any opportunity that they feel is going to be over
twenty five thousand dollars,
they do have to post on a public website. And
so that’s a great opportunity to see what
is out there over twenty five thousand dollars.
That being said, significant
amounts of business happens on the federal level
below that twenty five thousand
dollar threshold. So you really need to understand
who is buying your product and how it’s being procured. If
it’s being procured under that
threshold, then you need to market to the
government in a different way. Each agency, the state of Iowa,
they have a purchasing threshold as well,
as does the Iowa Department of Transportation.
So understanding what those
thresholds are as well as the purchase point and the price
point for your product or service is important. And understanding
the quantity that these agencies buy in will
help you to understand if it’s going to be over that threshold
or under so then you know how
you can market. Once you understand who your
target customers are, then you can
start to develop those
relationships to understand the best way to
market to those customers. Is it setting up a meeting and
providing them with a capabilities briefing? Or perhaps it’s starting
to develop relationships. Understanding if they’re going
to be at a local conference
or symposium so that you can use that
opportunity to provide
your thirty second elevator speech to that purchasing agent
and ask them can I set up a follow up meeting
with you? What’s the best way
to get in touch with you? In my experience,
purchasing agents are more than happy to tell you the best
way to reach out to them. We have to be very
cautious, because purchasing agents are going to maybe
receive emails and phone
calls from a lot of different
businesses. And so we
really want to ensure that we’re communicating
with them in a way that they want to be
communicated and that
you’re marketing to them in the way that’s most
helpful to them. So when you market to your target customer,
it has to be all about that
customer. What What are you doing to help that
customer succeed in their goals? So
understanding the agency’s
goal. Is it performing a certain service or
providing a product or if it’s a low cost solution? It really is
starting to develop those relationships so that you can
understand the best way to
market, get an understanding of what
opportunities are out there so
that you can position yourself to respond to
the opportunities in such a way as to put yourself in the best
position to be successful. And again, follow through. As you start to develop those
relationships, reach out to the different government
agencies in an appropriate
frequency If they have opportunities
coming up, if you’re maybe
having a new product line so that they
understand what the new
product is and how that product could help them meet their
needs. So just those touch
points on if different opportunities are
coming up for a bid so that you
are in a position to respond to those
opportunities. Another thing
to consider is for those opportunities that
are below the threshold for the government to have to
post them publicly, many times the purchasing agent is able to
do their own market research. So the government purchasing
agent does their own market
research to identify who are some potential
companies that could do the work? So if they
have an opportunity that’s
below their threshold, the purchasing agent can send
out a request to companies that they have either found
online via a Google search or looked
through their different registration or maybe it’s with someone that
they’ve met at an event. So it’s
important to market to those target
customers, especially if yours is a product or service
that may not be of a dollar value that would need to
be posted publicly. So I’m ticking through these
pretty quickly here. Don’t hesitate to submit any questions
that you may have. I’d be happy to respond to those now
or all at the end. So please don’t
hesitate to ask any question
that you may have. The next question that we receive from a
lot of companies is how can my company be
successful? What is going to really help me to be the most
successful? And again, no brainer, education and
training. We’re going to
keep beating that drum. But it really is important
that you are educated not only on the
different terms and conditions of the
contract and the way to do
business, but also educate yourself on why you are
being successful or maybe why you’re not being successful.
If you’ve submitted different proposals and you
have been unsuccessful, it’s important to educate
yourself on why you’re not successful. I mean
you can always ask the purchasing agent to provide
you with insight into if, for example, it was a low cost,
if the bid was based solely on cost,
then you can find out what that bid
tabulation is and what the
winning bid was. And if it’s significantly lower than your bid, then that
help you to make that business decision on what you
can and can’t do in order to be more competitive. The first
thing you should do is bid on that first solicitation. I
mean that’s the first contract, I like to say, is always the
hardest one to win,
because you will be bidding on a lot of solicitations. And
sometimes people are very successful right off the bat, and
other times it takes some work. I read in an article once
that the average return is eighteen months from starting
out pursuing government sales to getting that first award. Yes
several companies are much quicker than that, but
sometimes it does take a while
to hone in on who that right customer is,
what’s that right price point,
what can you do as a company to differentiate
yourself from your competition. What’s great is you can use the
available information that’s out
there on your competitors to see who has been awarded these
contracts in the past. So you can really leverage that
information to see how you
stack up, to understand what is something
that differentiates your company
or maybe who they’ve used in the past. Again,
it’s so important to be competitive. In these, as we all hear, you know that government
funding is scarce and budgets keep getting more and more
constrained, so it is very
important to be competitive. Even in
situations where it’s not a low cost or low bid award
solely on cost, the government does have a
budgetary responsibility in
order to be good stewards of the tax payer
dollar and make sure that they
are providing the best value solutions to the
government. And that best
value could include things like
quality, delivery timeliness, responsibleness of the vendor,
and cost as well as past performance is very
important in the government
sector. So you really do want to be the best at what
you do. You want to be in a position that you are
demonstrating that your
solution is the best solution for the
government. And then when you’re rewarded, make
sure that you perform and
deliver, that you are providing all the things that the
government has requested in
their contract, that you are touching base with
the contracting officer or the program manager at the
government level to make sure
that you are performing and delivering on
what the government has
requested. And that is going to help you
with your past performance
moving forward. So when government entities ask you can
you provide me with a list of other government projects that
you’ve done, you’re able to
easily pull out a list of projects that
you’ve worked on that the government will gladly give you a good
recommendation and you’re
able to demonstrate that you do have
that good past performance. Again, you want to follow
through. I mean that’s
another consistent message here is follow through on all
elements. Make sure you submit that proposal on time
and that it’s a compliant
proposal and you haven’t forgotten any
of the key required elements. In addition to that, make sure
that you request a debrief if you receive the award or don’t
receive the award so you
understand who your competition is and
how they stacked up.
Depending on the agency, the amount of
information that you’ll
receive after a proposal is awarded
vary, but your government contracting
specialist, your resource at
CIRAS, is able to help you to draft what types of
questions you can ask and what type of information that
the government should be giving you that is available and
is public information. So we do have a question here,
and the question is is there an Illinois organization
like yours? That’s a very good
question. Thank you. And yes there is. I’m
a part of the Procurement Technical Assistance Center,
and it’s a national program, jointly funded between
the federal government and the state of Iowa, and there is
representation in all fifty states. So there is an organization in
Illinois. They have several different offices throughout the
state. So if you have a specific area in
Illinois that you’re interested in, I’d be happy to provide you with
that point of contact. Okay. Our next question of
where do I start. So we have all of this information
and you’re excited to get going. You’ve completed your
education. You understand that yes the
government buys what we are selling, so let’s hit
the ground running. So the first
thing you need to do kind of jumps back to our first
[unintelligible] discussion. So really complete
that internal assessment of the company. This is so
important. You really want to ensure that selling to
the government meets some goals or helps you
to meet the goals that your company has
established. Also, you
want to ensure that you have the resources in
place in order to pursue all these different elements in
government contracting.
You know I think a lot of times a big challenge for
companies is that it’s very exciting and it’s
something that you really do
want to pursue and you see the opportunity for government
sales, but as entrepreneurs or
small business owners, you have a lot of other
things on your plate too. So it is so important to ensure that
you’re able to put the time in to pursuing this new
customer segment in order to expand the potential
to get the most out of it. You really do need to be sure to
invest that time to do the internal assessment
and to ensure that it meets your goals, that
you’re in position to submit
a bid, that you’re competitive, and that
you’re able to provide a reliable service, that you’re
able to complete all the requirements of the bid. Before
you start bidding you don’t want
to spend that time, those valuable resources,
on submitting a bunch of bids if you’re really not in a position
to be competitive. Again, back
to that education and training with
CIRAS. You know it is really
key. We provide a lot of different
resources for you to help
you along this path and to really map out. We
provide customized solutions for your
business based upon the type of product or service that you’re
selling, where you’re at in your government journey, if
you’re just starting or just trying to figure out if it’s
right for you. And we can help you with that initial research.
You know your company better than anyone. We really would
depend on you to educate us on what are your core
capabilities? What would be that top product or
service that would be something that
you think the government has
a need for? And we can help you with identifying and doing
that initial research to help
you to see who would be some potential
governmental agencies that would be good ones for
you to start to market to, help you with that market
research, and assist on
locating those opportunities. You know once
you help us to understand what those
products or services are,
then we can start to hone in on those agencies.
And not only the agencies, but what opportunities
are out there? Is there something
you can bid on right away? Is there a local purchasing
agent that you could reach out to
that buys your commodity area so
that you can have a discussion
with the purchasing agent on when are they going to do the bid on your product or service in the future
so you can start to develop that
relationship and marketing. We help you to
understand how to market to those entities. What are the
materials to use when
marketing? I always like to jump back to
kind of some myth busters of you know
you might not be ready for government contracting
if… You know we’ve talked a lot
about you know the government buys everything. This is an easy
entry into the market. You can do this. But I always like to step
back and say okay here are
some things if you think this is what
selling to the government is, then you probably shouldn’t
pursue it. If you think the government is
easy and quick money, then you really do need to take a step
back. Because it may be an
easy entry point, but you really do need to
be sure to put in the time and energy to perform that
market research and to
understand if the government if a viable
option. The government does have some pretty good
payment terms, but it’s an extremely competitive
market. So it’s not going to be the quick money opportunity. You really do need
to assess where you fit and start that plan in place.
Another thing we hear is oh I just need to register. Just
get me on this preferred vendors
list or get me registered here or
there and the opportunities
will start flowing in. And that’s definitely not the
case. You know it is relatively
easy to register for all the different
agencies including the federal government, state
government. That’s the easy
part. And let me tell you, every company knows that’s the
easy part. If all you’re going to do is
register, you’re going to be
in a registration system with tens of thousands
of other companies. So registering is key and it is
important and it is that kind of first step, but you
need to do what’s behind it. You need to do more than just
register. Another thing that we’ve heard in the past is
working in the government
or doing business with the government
is all about who you know. It’s
not what you do, it’s this good old boy’s club. And I think that
from what I’ve seen and the regulations that
are in place, that is no longer
the case. Due to all of the transparency
with the government, it really can’t be about who you
know anymore. It really… The government has such
oversight that they really
do need to award these contracts to who
is the best vendor for the
opportunity. So if it’s low
cost or providing the best service, the government needs to
demonstrate why they are
awarding it to a company, and it can’t be
because they’re my best
friend or I knew them from way back when or
some relationship. The relationships are key and
are very important and I don’t
want to discount that, but it is important to have a solid proposal and to be
competitive. The market isn’t the same as the
commercial market. It is
different. There’s different rules and regulations, so you
really do need to understand
those differences. And you can’t be hands off to
be successful. It comes back to what we talked
before of some of those
recurring themes of education, training, and follow
through. Those are all things that will happen on a
continuing basis. Things change within the
government pretty frequently.
Rules change, but that’s why you have your
free resource at CIRAS with your government contracting
specialist that can help
you to navigate those changes. And you need to implement
some sort of customer management system for the
government as you do with
all of your other commercial customers and have that touch
point in place so that you have to follow through and
not be hands off and wait for the business to come to you.
You really do need to have an
active marketing strategy for the government as you
would with any other
commercial customer. So that’s my last slide. I thought
I had one more, but I guess I don’t. But you know at this
point, I would just like to reiterate that
we’re here at CIRAS, the Center for
Industrial Research and
Service, my program to assist companies with
government sales, and
we’re here to walk you through all these steps. We’re
here to help you to understand
where are the best sales? Where do I need to
register? Helping you to
understand those different government agencies.
So we’re here as that resource, and I’d be happy
to work with you if you have any
questions. Feel free to send
me an email or shoot me a call if you have
any questions on anything that was presented
here today or just would like to get started. So
the first question I see here is how can we get individualized
help with your organization at a site in Des Moines? I have a person that’s located in Ames
that handles the Des Moines metro that I’d be
happy to provide you with
her contact information, Dana. I believe I have… Do I
have her email or will I? So I’d be happy to send
you an email, Dana, with the contact information and ask her
to reach out to you to set up a
time to meet. What other questions do you
have? [Valyn]I’ll just do a quick plug while we’re waiting. I did put a
link to the powerpoint in the
public comments box. That’s also available on
Source Link. So we have recorded this webinar, and
again that’s going to be posted
on Source Link as well within the next week. I also want to do a quick plug
for our next webinar. It’s going to be Wednesday
August 26th, and it’s going
to be on starting or expanding a business
in Iowa. We’ll have Terry O’Neill. He’ll be there, and Amy Kuhlers
will just be talking about different tax related things with
starting or expanding a business and then also
different resources that can also help you out as well. So I
think we have one more
question. [Pam]So the next question is
what is the website where we can see what kind of bids are
available. So this, there is no one website that has every bid opportunity
posted on it. If you are interested in just federal
opportunities, all federal
opportunities over twenty five thousand
dollars are posted on And that’s fed bid opps, And those would be the federal
opportunities. That being said,
there is also bids for the state of Iowa
are located on the Iowa DAS site,
under procurement services. And so that’s Department of
Administrative Services. If
you do a Google search for Iowa DAS, you’ll be able to see the state of Iowa opportunities.
Also each city opportunity is probably going
to be [unintelligible]. Some
have it on their website. Some still leverage the newspaper. So
it really does depend on which agency or which type of
government that you’re trying to sell to as to where those opportunities are posted.
But those are just a couple, and when you meet with the
person in Des Moines, she’ll probably be
able to walk you through more
of a focused search as to where those
opportunities would be
posted for your specific product or service area. Alright
our next question is is there any opportunity for
accounting firms to sell
their services to the government? That’s a
good question, Julia. Actually I believe it was last year, I did
see an opportunity for an accounting firm, and
depending on what your
accounting firm does, city, I believe it was with the city
governments, they were looking
for an accounting firm to audit
different tax records and things like that.
So there are opportunities for
accounting firms. It just depends on what your
niche is, what your territory is, and that’s definitely something
that we can help you to better understand and pursue if
you’d like to set up a time to meet. [Valyn]Well we’ll give it a couple
more minutes, but feel free to keep posting your questions. I will put a link to the survey in the public comments box. So
again, we welcome your feedback. What did you
think about this webinar? If
you do want Pam to reach out to you, that’s
a good way to ask your
questions that way as well, and we can provide you with
that contact info. [Pam]And then another thing,
too, is if there was any topics that I discussed in the webinar
today that you would like additional information on or if
you think would be good for maybe another webinar or you’d
like to go into additional detail,
you know please share that information. We’re
always looking for opportunities to expand our workshops or
webinars that we provide, and we really do want to be a
great resource for what the
needs are of Iowa business. [Valyn]Okay. Well I don’t see
anymore questions, so I want to thank everybody for
participating in today’s webinar, and I want to thank Pam for
being here with us and
sharing her expertise. Again, want to take that survey. Let us know how you thought,
or like Pam said, if you want to deeper dive into
something, just feel free to let us know.

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