Three Proven Strategies for Selling to Government Agencies

May 13, 2020

Even in a growing marketplace, vendors and contractors still need to tailor their marketing to government specific needs. This blog article summarizes three best practices in selling to all levels of government, whether you focus on federal sales or specialize more in government sales to state, local and education (SLED) agencies.

1. Influence the Government Buyer

The most successful government contractors in many industries have a formal business development process for contacting buyers and influencing the development of project specifications well in advance. This includes following up on planned or budgeted items as well as unplanned future purchases.


“Influencing the buyer and building relationships before a bid or RFP is issued can dramatically improve win rates, but you also need to be well-informed so you can offer those buyers relevant information and position yourself as a knowledgeable, trustworthy resource.”


It’s important to consider the entire buying team, not simply the designated staff person. Individuals who can be involved on the purchasing end might include:

  • Executive sponsor (who will have to sign off on the final decision)
  • Internal champion (who has the most familiarity with your work or brand)
  • Consultants (can be important in setting technical specs)
  • Informants (administrative workers, assistants, etc. who can help connect you with resources and provide critical intelligence)

During outreach, best practices can include verifying the typical purchase cycle or trigger events, inquiring about their current satisfaction with their vendors, and learning about the key factors that will help influence the buyer’s decision.

2. Better Understand the Government Agency

Buyers are typically too busy to do extensive research and look for input from vendors who are sincerely interested in that agency’s needs and offer useful information. Procurement teams can often be too crunched for time to become knowledgeable about the entire range of products and services they may have to purchase. So when the time comes to tackle a new solicitation, they end up scrambling to catch up, reviewing older contracts, checking with their peers and being open to advice from vendors.

This makes it all the more important for a vendor to take the time to access all of the relevant government contracting resources that are available when preparing for a procurement. Here are a few of the things they should consider:

Timing of purchase: Study budget and CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) documents. Your team may need 6-18 months to market a deal.

  • Agency strategies and goals: Review and leverage official statements, their website, news, social media and audits.
  • Technical requirements: Look at project requirements and determine whether a partner is needed.
  • Competition: Study firms that have bid on or won earlier contracts.
  • Contract type: Verify that you can fulfill the type of contract expected (i.e. IDIQ, multi-year term, etc.)
  • Likelihood of making the purchase: Study draft documents, capital improvement plans, spending patterns, audits, etc.

Tools like GovWin IQ, the leading market intelligence platform that provides up-to-the-minute government contracting information and early notice of upcoming opportunities, can help surface this critical information.


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3. Consider Teaming Opportunities

Companies should not underestimate the importance of local economic impacts, as well as local connections, in the contract decision. With major projects, such as those in the construction industry, one strategy is for national firms to partner or subcontract with a strong local company once that project is known.

In many federally-funded projects as well as some funded at the state or local level, set asides will call for small businesses, minority-owned businesses or women-owned businesses to be used – which are typically also local. Successful contractors will also seek out local partners that can bring specialized capabilities or unique value propositions to help differentiate that proposal.

Larger, competitive primes will normally influence local vendors, trying to convince them that they are the likely winner. They operate with a sense of urgency, realizing that the best subcontractors might have more than one offer.

Next Steps to Improve on Selling to Government Agencies

Regardless of industry or level of government, the strategies outlined here suggest companies should invest time and effort in understanding the uniqueness of their government prospects and clients. Another common element is the importance of networking with and influencing the broader buying team, either directly or indirectly (through a teaming partner with local knowledge and contacts).

Now that you better understand the strategies for selling to different types of government agencies, you’ll be better prepared to make the most of the government contracting market. You can do that with GovWin IQ – the most comprehensive source of market intelligence on state, local and federal government contracting. Click the link to request a trial and see for yourself how you can benefit.