Marketing to the Federal Government
The VA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Program is the premier Government program in place to acquire state-of-the-art healthcare related products and services. Being a Schedule contractor is not a guarantee of sales and with nearly 2,000 contractors, and more being added every day, competition under the Program is fierce. That said, the VA FSS Service wants you to be a successful industry partner. To do this you must develop a robust marketing plan that includes clearly defined steps to promote and maintain a relationship with potential government customers while ensuring continued compliance with your firm’s awarded pricing, terms, and conditions. Good marketing efforts will help you identify government customers and get their attention so they are motivated to purchase from you.
This page offers resources and strategies for maximizing business opportunities under the VA Schedules Program.
Marketing a Schedules Contract
Your Potential Customer Base
The success of your Schedules contract will require active promotion of your business to potential customers.
Your customer base includes organizations eligible to Use GSA Sources of Supply and Services, such as executive and other federal agencies. Through Cooperative Purchasing and Disaster Recovery Purchasing, state and local governments, and even government contractors can use Schedules.
- The VA Facilities site is a storehouse of facility and key staff information within 1728 VA facilities, maintained on a regular basis by editors and administrators nationwide throughout the VA network. Designed for ease-of-use, this site categorizes information for browsing by state and administration, as well as by viewing through an interactive map of the United States.
- VA Advantage!, a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the General Services Administration, is a commitment towards improving the acquisition process for VA customers. VA Advantage! has been primarily designed to provide the VA user robust tools for performing market research, as well as a streamlined ordering process for procuring pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
- A huge opportunity for business exists on military installations. The trick is being able to locate the right Program Office. A good place to start is with Armed Force Network's list of military installations worldwide, and then narrow your search by region, state, and activity.
- FedBizOpps is the single source to find federal procurement opportunities that exceed $25,000. Vendors can set up daily email notifications and search procurements by solicitation number, date, procurement classification code, and agency for both active and archived solicitations. With over 51 agencies posting to its website regularly, FBO is a key resource for finding opportunities. Users are not required to register, nor do they require a username and password, to begin using FedBizOpps.
- Government buyers can post a Request for Quote via eBuy and Schedules contractors can submit quotes to any RFQ corresponding to the Schedule and Special Item Numbers (SINs) listed in their contract. eBuy is an excellent tool for finding new business and is only available to contractors on Schedule. Users must register to use this site.
- The Federal Acquisition Jump Station provides websites of federal procurement information broken down by agency. You will be able to obtain, among other things, announcements of upcoming and current acquisitions, solicitations as well as federal acquisition regulations.
- The Federal Procurement Data System— Next Generation (FPDS-NG) identifies who bought what, from whom, for how much, when and where. This site requires registration.
- Additionally you can research Defense Logistics Agency and Department of Navy procurements online.
In addition to the myriad of resources available on the web, these are a few smart strategies that will help maximize your business opportunities.
- Educate your workforce. A well trained workforce can make or break a potential sale and ensure repeat business. All employees should at least:
- Know your firm has a VA FSS contract and it’s number;
- Be able to identify eligible government customers;
- Provide accurate information about your firm’s contract; and
- Assist the customer in completing all aspects of the sale.
We offer free training materials that can assist with expanding your employees’ knowledgebase about the VA FSS program and your firm’s contract. Additional free training is offered by GSA.
- Find government customers through market research. Market research is essential to any successful marketing plan. It allows you to find out who is buying and what, when, and where they are buying. By identifying these key elements about your target customer group you are taking a major step forward in achieving your marketing and purchasing goals.
- The Eligibility to use GSA sources of supply and services provides a comprehensive listing of all entities eligible to buy from VA FSS contracts.
- Explore USA.gov. This site offers online chat, blogs, news, features, and direct links to government agencies.
- Maximize your internet presence. The internet is rife with opportunities for free or low cost marketing. By simply providing your web address on your Authorized FSS Price List you have strengthened your marketing foothold. Additionally, social media applications provide a unique way of interacting with your customers. Remember, the government is online too.
- Government advertising opportunities. There are a myriad of publications related to the government acquisition process. These publications afford you an excellent opportunity to reach your target customers through traditional media. Find the appropriate publication for your industry and considering advertising your VA FSS contract in them. Be sure to include a link to your website!
Additional purchasing programs your company should know about:
- Small Business Goals: If your company is a small, veteran-owned, service-disable veteran-owned, disadvantaged, women-owned, HUBZone, business, know that all federal agencies set Small Business Goals, which aim to put a percentage of procurement dollars toward these business categories. Learn more about how to participate through VA’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization.
- Contractor Team Arrangements (CTAs): If the scope of your contract cannot meet all of a customer’s requirements, you may work with another contractor. In a CTA, two or more Schedules contractors work together to meet the needs of a customer.
- Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs): Setting up a BPA is a way to obtain regular business from a customer with repetitive needs for the product(s) or service(s) you offer. Because a BPA brings in continuous sales, it is appropriate to offer additional price discounts to your customer as part of the agreement.
Visit the National Contract Service page for information on the NAC standardization and BPA initiatives.
- Small Business Subcontracting Opportunities. For some small businesses, subcontracting to a Prime Vendor is a great way to “get a foot in the door” of government contracting. In this arrangement, you can provide goods or services that support a larger initiative that you couldn’t handle on your own. And it’s a great way to gain valuable experience!
- VA Mentor-Protégé Program
- SUB — Net
- Connect to Agency Websites
For additional information on how to successfully market your VA Schedules contract, download the Basics to Marketing Your VA Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) Contract guide.