So you have decided to expand your company’s customer base and sell its products and services to government. But where do you begin?
Here are five helpful hints to get you started and approach the task strategically:
- Know your industry codes – The best way to approach this task is by using industry codes. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) provides a set of codes that the U.S. Census uses to collect and analyze statistical information related to the economy. NAICS has one or more industry codes that identify the products and services that your company sells. Governments use these industry codes to search for potential contract partners. Do the research and identify all industry codes that apply to your business. Be over-inclusive.
- Network with your potential government consumers – Attend the annual meetings of government consumer organizations like the Florida Association of Counties, Florida League of Cities, Florida Police Chiefs Association, Florida Sheriffs Association, etc. These organizations have Expos for potential product and service providers to reach their constituency.
- Investigate which bid notification system is right for your company – Governments usually solicit contract partners through bid notification services on the internet. There are several choices on the internet. Some aggregate results from different services. The key will be to find a service or combination of services that captures most of your government consumers.
- Target 2 or 3 opportunities to approach locally – Responding from afar to 30 different opportunities you find on the internet from different governments all over Florida probably will not yield the right results. Identify 2 or 3 opportunities that would be profitable or high profile for your company and intensify your efforts for those companies in person and repeatedly.
- Use local lawyers and/or lobbyists - There are several reasons for using local lawyers and/or lobbyists in responding to the opportunities you have chosen. Local lawyers and lobbyists will be familiar with the rules the government agency must follow when purchasing products or services. In addition to outlining how the solicitation of products and services must be conducted, these rules typically prohibit communication with certain agency employees and elected officials during specific time periods. Communications in violation of these rules can get your company disqualified. Having a local lawyer and/or lobbyist associated with your company brings it legitimacy to government decision-makers.
These simple steps will help your business identify the right opportunities and compete effectively.