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The 7-Step Process for Winning Federal Contracts in 2024

business development Jan 04, 2024

"Government contracting is not a secret, it's just a process. When you follow the process, you'll have repeatable, predictable success as a small business government contractor."Neil McDonnell, president GovCon Chamber

Understanding the 7-Step Process for Success in the Federal Market

To kick off our 2024 LinkedIn live series, we're going back to the foundational concepts that form the bedrock of your federal government contracting success.

Celebrating the 2024 LinkedIn Live Training series, we shared our updated 7-Step Process handout with the more than 110 Small Business government contractors who joined us live on New Year's Day to kick off the New Year. Download your copy here.

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Overview of the Process

The 7 Step Process can be separated into two groups:

  1. Path to Relationships
  2. The Wheel of Success

When you're just starting your business development process, or chasing a new agency for the first time, your priority is to learn as much as you can and to talk to strangers ie 'cold calling'.

Once you start to establish some relationships, you step onto the Wheel of Success that ensures long-term success.

PHASE 1 | Research

'Research' is the process of learning more about a specific agency than they know themselves.

  • How does that specific federal agency buys the services you sell?
  • What is their specific mission and vision?
  • What are their specific key strategic goals, objectives and key activities?
  • Major mission and management challenges?

You'd be surprised to learn that people within an agency rarely know anything outside to their specific program office or major command.

When you take time to research, you will be much better prepared for quality conversations with federal agencies and get referrals toward the right buyers.

PHASE 2 | Targeting 

'Targeting' is the process of building a target list of names, numbers, and emails for 100-200 people to call during the 'Outreach' phase.


  • Limit yourself to one single federal agency or agency command onl
  • Identify the 3 types of people:
    • ✅ Focuses of POWER | People who actually make awards​
      • Contract Officer
      • Contract Specialist​
      • Acquisition / Contracting Shop (repository)​
    • ✅  Focuses of DISSATISFACTION | People who need you
      • Program Office​
      • Technical Reviewers / COR​
    • ✅  Focuses of RECEPTIVITY | People who can advocate for you​r Small Business
      • Specialist​ Procurement Center Representatives​
      • SBA District Office Personnel​

▶️  WATCH Who Actually Reviews your RFIs in Government Contracting? | Learn the Focuses of Power

PHASE 3 | Outreach 

Also known as outbound sales and cold calling, 'outreach' is the process of picking up the phone, calling the people on your list to schedule introduction meetings to establish new relationships.

The 'Outreach' phase includes:

  • Cold calling, leaving voicemails, sending emails, scheduling meetings
  • Conducting intro meetings
  • Following up after the meeting to continue to build the relationship and move the sale forward.

PHASE 4 | Relationships

'Relationships' are key to your government contracting business.

  • 'Strategic' Relationships are mutually beneficial. For example:
    • By discussing agency challenges and goals freely with government buyers, agencies can achieve their missions and small business can meet their revenue goals
    • By meeting every two weeks to discuss opportunities, industry teaming partners stay informed of upcoming opportunities and resources
    • Strategic Relationship Goals
      • 8 small businesses
      • 8 large businesses
      • 8 target agency people

PHASE 5 | Opportunities 

When your Federal Sales pipeline is filled with 'Slam Dunk' opportunities that are solidly in your area of expertise, you increase your chances of winning contracts. Don't clog your sales pipeline with opportunities you have no chance of winning. ‘Slam Dunk’ opportunities align with your Core Competency​ and are in your Target Agency.


PHASE 6 | Proposals

'Winning' Proposals should be:

  • Clear and Concise: If you are permitted 25 pages, use 20
  • Compliant: Address every 'shall' statements in the RFP
  • Compelling: Help your buyers become excited about your solution and the outcome.
  • Convincing: Provide proof that your compelling solution is possible.

PHASE 7 | Sales

In our 7 Step Process, we describe 'sales' as the process of learning and growing from every sales experience you have. Whether you win or lose, you can build on these lessons.

  • The federal government is always buying.
  • If you missed an opportunity or you want to position yourself to renew the contract, focus on deepening your relationships with your federal customer.
  • Once buyers know like and trust a small business, they are likely to keep your in mind for future opportunities or as a referral for subcontracting opportunities.
  • No door is ever completely closed.

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