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February 15, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Natasha Stahla, Wyoming Entrepreneur Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) procurement specialist
“Can you provide tips to networking and relationship building when selling products and services to the government?” Julie, Big Horn
Developing an effective approach to the process can be helpful. The following are a few tips that will prepare for efficient communication, which is important when networking with contracting officers and other government agency representatives.
Conferences, events and any other time you have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with a government agency may seem like the time to sell your products. However, it is far better to do more listening so you can gather performance criteria information and have a better idea of what government representatives are looking for.
It is important to take direction from contracting officers carefully, because the information provided will help focus on the representatives’ mission and what you can do to meet their objectives.
The government is interested in the latest methods and technologies but, before presenting an advanced solution, make sure to research by reviewing the government compliance standards. Be prepared to discuss cost-benefit in your presentation. A business owner should know exactly what the agency is expecting if he or she wants to be successful in government contracting.
Being awarded a contract represents your company’s commitment to successfully performing all tasks detailed within the contract, regardless of monetary value. Every day, more and more acquisition abuse stories are being reported.
Business ethics and compliance with established laws are no joke when working with the government. Not only can non-compliance and poor business ethics bring bad publicity, but the chances of ever receiving another government award also are extremely slim.
Once you receive a contract award, understand that this is only one of the first steps in a successful government contracting relationship. Maintaining a “win-win” relationship before and after the contracting officer’s established agreement is made is essential to being awarded any other contract thereafter.
If your business provides the government with a quality product or service that delivers to the agency’s needs, more than likely you will be awarded more future contracts. Past performance is one of the areas measured during the source selection process of a contract award.
Keep in mind when entering a conversation with a government agency representative to listen and not over-sell. Knowing what the agency is looking for will help when bidding on a contract. Also, be aware of the federal acquisition regulations that apply when placing a bid to prevent termination of default on a contract. Do research when bringing new innovative products or services to the table.
Finally, once you are awarded the contract, be prepared to deliver. Performance on your first contract and also future awards is vital to government contracting success.
For more tips and assistance before approaching a government agency, contact a local Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Representatives provide free strategic planning assistance to small businesses across the country. Visit the website at http://www.aptac-us.org/new/.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.