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Who Buys What You Sell in the US Government? (Podcast Transcript)

Who Buys What You Sell in the US Government? (Podcast Transcript)

direct sales federal sales mindset sub contracting Aug 19, 2022

                         [01:13]: Hey, guys. Richard here with Richard C. Howard and associates and the government Sales Momentum Podcast. Whether you're watching a video on our website or you are listening to the podcast, thanks for taking time to listen to us today. I think it's going to be valuable for anyone selling to the government, whether you've been selling for a while or you're just getting started. What we're going to cover today is one of the first things that you really need to consider when you are selling, and that is who in the government are you selling to? So what I mean by that is the government is a huge place. So somebody new to the government might think of it as one large entity where everybody talks to each other. And so if you show one army colonel or high-ranking government civilian your product or technology, you could make the assumption that the government now knows about it and make purchases from you. But that is absolutely not the case. It's much better to think about the government as 800,000 different offices that don't talk to each other. And most of the people you speak with in the government probably don't have purchasing authority on top of that. So when you're selling to the government, it's very important to know whom you're selling to and making sure they have purchasing authority.

                         So we're going to cover a few topics today within that. The first is when you're going to sell to the government. The very first step is, does the government buy what you sell? Almost always, yes. But now it's okay. How do we identify whom we're going to sell to and why? The best way to do this is to look at past federal spending, right? So this is all publicly available information, so you can use several different websites to go back and take a look at within your and there are different systems out there. Some of them are free, some of them you pay for. So depending on what level of detail you're looking for, may determine whether you're doing it for free or spending. But if you go to a website like, you can search by your industry classification code, your naked code, or PSE code and really get a good idea of, okay, in the past five years, who are really the top agencies that are spending in our area, right? So that's really the first step because from there, we can say, okay, is it the Department of Defense? Is it the VA? If you're selling tools or It services or some type of technology that you've developed or improved on, you can get a pretty good idea of who the top two or three agencies are just by doing this. And from there, we really want to go a step further, right, because to say that, hey, I'm going to use the DOD, let's say the DOD comes up as the top spender in your category, and that's pretty standard.

                        The DOD is usually one of the top spenders. DOD, HHS, there's a few others, DHS, I mean, depending on what it is, those can vary, but all those organizations are pretty large, right? So if we're in the Department of Defense, what we want to know, we want to be able to dial that down, right? So Department of Defense, now we want to go that steps further. Is it the army? Is it the Air Force? What sub agency or department within the DOD is making those purchases? And then we want to go even further because those organizations are humongous thousands of offices in all of them, right? So you can really start dialing that in. Like, let's say you're selling tools, and we find that DODs at the top of the list of people that are spending in your category, but it's the army. And a step below that is it's the Army Corps of Engineers, right? And then we can go a step even further and say, okay, well, which divisions in the Army Corps of Engineers are actually responsible for purchases in that category? We might find out that especially some businesses can only sell in certain locations, right? So you may only be selling in California. You may only be able to provide your services in a specific state. So there are ways to really dial in and say, okay, because the national numbers or the global numbers might be a lot different than your state numbers are, or there's a certain district within the US. So we really want to find out who's spending in the area that you can actually sell to. So we use Army Corps of Engineers as an example, right? So once I know that that's whom we're targeting, the next thing that we want to do is figure out how they make those purchases, right? And this is really important because a lot of companies that come to my team looking for help. A good example of a problem would be a company that went out and got GSA contract vehicle before doing any research to see if they really needed one.

                         There is a thing out there that you have to have a GSA contract in order to sell to the government. That is absolutely not true. Now here's what is true. Some agencies do use GSA more than others. So this is a good example of why you want to do your research ahead of time. So if we find out, we'll just use the tool example. You're selling tools. We know the Army Corps of Engineers is the top purchaser of these. If we see that going through the past five years of spending, that they really rely heavily on GSA, that a good percentage of their contracts are going to be through GSA, then that is absolutely an area we want to align your company with. Right. So when you find out how these agencies make purchases, you can start aligning your business with those purchasing strategies, whether it's getting a GSA contract or we might find that let's say it's the Air Force, and we see that Lifecycle Management Center purchases a lot of what you sell, whether it's tools or services or whatever. Let's say we see, hey, they're making a lot of those purchases through NASA Soup or one of the other huge contract vehicles with a lot of companies on there. Well, now we want to start keeping an eye out for when these are going to be re-completed, when there might be on-boarding opportunities. So now what we can do is start building the different vehicles that your company has up to align with the agency you're selling to, and that's going to make it a lot easier to sell. Just as a side note, one of the first questions I always ask myself as a program manager and the DOD is, how can I hire this company? So being on a GWAC or having a GSA schedule can be one means of making purchases.

                         There's a lot more that goes into that, right? So one of the other things that we look at is do specific sub agencies offices use a lot of set asides, right? So if you're a service disabled, veteran owned business, I can tell you that in a lot of cases, the VA has a much higher percentage of putting contracts set aside for that type of set aside versus AA. You might have another agency like HHS, or another agency that you're looking to sell to may have they might have a higher percentage of women on small business contracts or eight day contracts or hub zone. So those are the type of things that we can align ourselves with. And if you don't necessarily have that set aside, if that's not applicable to you, then we can find a company to team up with, because teaming and subcontracting, that's not the focus of this podcast, but teaming and subcontracting is going to be a huge part of selling to the government. It is for almost all companies, whether large or small. So one of the things that we do when we are going to align a company with another business is we'll say. Okay. So if we're selling to. Let's say the VA. And you're not service-disabled veteran on small business. But we have an inkling that either because they said it or because of research that this could be a set aside for that type of business. You might consider teaming up with a service disabled veteran or small business. A company that's complementary to yours and then going after that work. And then when you approach federal sales that way, you can increase the odds of winning the contract in the end.

                         Then finally, another really great reason for going through this process and finding out who's buying what you're selling is to really drill it down to see the actual people that are involved. So when you start looking at, I guarantee if you're looking at a specific location for Army Corps of Engineers opportunities, for instance, you're going to start seeing some of the same contracting officers. Names pop up in their emails, are going to be attached to whether it's opportunity identification that you're doing. RFI sources sought, RFPs, getting a good idea of whom you can talk to because at the end of the day, this is a relationship game. So one big benefit of this process is it's going to really identify the offices that you need to create relationships with. And I'll do another podcast on how to identify opportunities long before they become an RFP and how you can influence the requirements on those and establish relationships with those offices. But the very first step in doing that, is knowing which offices you need to establish relationships with and who you're going to sell to. And every agency is different. Sub agencies are different, even offices can be very different. So spending some time establishing relationships in those offices, understanding how they make purchases in another podcast, we'll talk about this too. But really once you have those offices ID, you can go to their websites, you can dig in and get a really great understanding of what their mission is. A lot of times there are some officers out there that really put out great material as far as acquisitions forecast and their mission statements and even projecting for the year what their biggest problems that they want to solve are. And understanding those before you ever set foot in one of those officers and make a call is really critical and can really help you with the relationships you're establishing and really also just bringing a little bit of credibility to your company. So hopefully that helps you that's a little bit on identifying who's buying what you sell and why you're doing that, and some of the benefits that can come to you and your business by doing that. So great! Thank you for listening today. If you have questions, feel free to go to You can schedule a consultation there. Free would love to talk to you and have a great week.

                         [11:59] Richard C. Howard: Hey, guys, Ricky here. I hope you enjoyed this episode of government sales momentum. If you did enjoy the episode, please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review. It's very much appreciated. If you're interested in selling products and services to the Department of Defense, I have something for you that you're not going to find anywhere else in the world. The team and I created a program that takes everything you need to win defense contracts and put it into one place. Up until now, only large defense companies and a small amount of people in the know have had access to how products and services are really sold to the Department of Defense. I've taken all of that information and put it in a step-by-step training module that shows you how to consistently sell to the US. Military. If you join our membership, not only do you get the model, but you get weekly sessions with former DOD acquisitions officers for training guidance to answer your questions, and a community of like minded business owners that want to partner on different opportunities to bid for subcontracting and teaming, or just to discuss general strategy on how to sell to the DOD. You have access to every course I've created, every coaching session I've ever recorded in every interview with an acquisitions professional that I've ever conducted, and we cover topics that range from defense sales planning and competitor analysis to SBIR and STTR foreign military sales. The list goes on. Go to if you are interested, I would love to see you in the membership.

You can also check out my podcast about Sub Contracting to know if this is a good fit for you.

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