How (and why!) to Reach the Federal Buyer Before the RFI Drops

linkedin live Mar 23, 2022

In today's LinkedIn LIVE session, Neil explains how to reach federal buyers before the RFI (request for information) drops.  This follows Neil's training called Understanding the Federal Acquisition Lifecycle from a Sales Perspective.

HOW TO 'SHIFT LEFT' TO MOVE FORWARD

Today Neil talks about "shifting left" (referencing to placement of the life cycle) and engaging earlier in the process so that you can have more influence in the contract process.

If you hear about an opportunity from SAM when the RFP drops, it's too late to respond. That's why you want to be engaged with an opportunity (doing capture) during the RFI / Sources Sought phase. 
  
But you can shift your capture efforts further left by hearing about the RFI your federal buyer plans on releasing.  

If you can participate in the discussion while the requirements are still being developed, you can share your expertise in the field to help them refine the RFI . 

At this preliminary stage, buyers are still determining the NAICS codes, clearances, set-asides, contract vehicles and this is a chance to help the program office shape their contract as well as deter any preliminary restrictions that would limit the number of potential firms.

STEP ONE : KNOW WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE PURSUING 

  1. SPECIFIC AGENCY (ie Navy, NAVSEA, or Warfare Centers)
  2. SPECIFIC COMPETENCE (ie cloud technology

STEP TWO : FIND AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH FEDERAL BUYERS AND AGENCIES

  1. Who do you need to meet within your SPECIFIC AGENCY ?  What role do they play? Small business professionals, program officers etc 
    • Use the 2022 GovCon Directory to find specific points of contact. The recent issue includes 
      • Over 1,000 names, emails and phone numbers
      • Represents 100+ federal agencies
      • Includes 100+ large prime "Small Business Liaison Officers" (SBLOs)
    • Understand the difference between indirect and direct influence
  2. Who do you need to meet within your SPECIFIC COMPETENCE?
    • Can you share something from your area of expertise that will help buyers with their research?
    • Are their industry trends and insights that you can share that show your SME status?

 TODAY'S ACTION STEP

  1. Write down exactly which agency you want to reach out to start building 
  2. Use the 2022 GovCon Directory and set up one introductory meeting with
    • one contracting office
    • one SBP and
    • one program office in your space
  3.  Ask each person these 2 questions :

"What are your plans for [insert your core competency] for 2022 and the next few years? 

"What is your specific acquisition process? How do I hear about planned RFIs coming up?

Being prepared with one key open-ended question enables you to start guiding the conversation and thinking about how you can help with their plans.

 

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