GSA Schedule | Tactics, Strategies & More w/Judy Bradt

gsa gsa schedule Aug 04, 2022

[00:00] Richard C. Howard: Hey, guys, Ricky here, owner of and host of the Government Sales Momentum podcast. Before we get started, I want to tell you about our most popular free training, where we teach you the very first step you need to take to sell products and services to the US. Military. Go to first and we're going to show you how much the Department of Defense spends on your product or service each year. You know, the DOD is one of the biggest single purchasers of goods and services in the world, yet most small businesses never even attempt to sell to them. And look, they buy more than weapon systems. They're buying everything from food and office supplies to medicine, HVAC units, accounting services, legal services, the list goes on. The only way to make success happen for you is to take action and get started. We'd love to help you consistently win six to eight figure contracts with the Department of Defense. Head over to to get started now or first, to see if defense contracting is right for you. Now, on with the show.

Hey, guys, Ricky Howard here. And I am with Judy Bratz, CEO of Summit Insight. Over the past 34 years, she's become an expert not just in federal contracting, but in how to build the relationships that we need to succeed with federal buyers. As a consultant, speaker, and author, she's helped thousands of established businesses, small, mid tier and large, find their fast track to success in the federal arena. Her clients use her proprietary players and layers methodology to get in front of the right federal buyers and to win over $200 million in federal business. You can pick up her latest book, number one best seller, government Contracts Made Easier, second edition on Amazon, along with her companion strategy workbook. So now let's find out more about how to make easier happened for you. Please welcome Judy. Hi, Judy.

Judy Bradt: Hey, Ricky. It's such a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me to get to meet your community today.

Ricky Howard: Oh, this is awesome. We've been waiting a long time to have you on. I know we've been going back and forth on LinkedIn and we have some shared contacts, so it's funny how small this community is, subject matter experts and people really working here. And you have some skill sets that definitely our audience would like to learn from. I know one of the things we're going to focus on today is GSA, how to use your GSA schedule effectively. You have some pretty awesome materials out on that.

Judy Bradt: Thanks. GSA schedules are such a well known, I want to say, entry point from the point of view of just information. They can be one of the first things that people hear about when they're exploring how does the federal market work. I remember that was the case when I first started my journey as a federal subject matter expert when I was working at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC. And I really had to understand, wrapped my head around the difference between registering to do business with the federal government which anybody can do and is free, and becoming involved in a GSA schedule contract which is not a registration and is something that's competitively awarded. And it took me more than a couple of weeks to wrap my head just around that one at all.

Ricky Howard: Yeah, that's a confusing subject for a lot of people, especially just getting into selling to the federal government. What is the GSA schedule? Why don't we start there then? What is the GSA schedule? Why don't you talk a little bit about that?

Judy Bradt: Sure. It's sort of like a hunting license or fishing license an old friend of mine used to say and the fish don't jump in the boat. And so a GSA schedule is a specific example of a broader type of connection between buyers and sellers called an indefinite delivery vehicle. And I'm going to make one of my government contracting jokes. The indefinite delivery vehicle is not the courier truck that cannot find your house. The indefinite delivery vehicle is a contract that is negotiated between a federal agency and a vendor who's registered to do business with the federal government that can be used by a defined group of buyers for a defined period of time with a defined financial limit of what can be spent on it and a defined set of products or services that can be purchased through that contract in no quantities whatsoever.

Unknown Speaker: Right.

Judy Bradt: And so it creates a more limited pool of sometimes as limited as one or multiple buyers that have met certain criteria. And at that point once that fishing license or hunting license contract has been awarded to a more limited group of buyers than sellers, then those vendors have been vetted and then the ordering procedures for those who are authorized to use that contract are much simpler. GSA schedule Contract and it's called GSA schedules because a million years ago they used to be completed on a regular cycle. So for example in the olden days when I got started in 1988 in the federal market, the furniture GSA scheduled contract was competed every five years. And if you didn't win one at that point you were out of luck for five years. So now it's evergreen and you can submit a proposal and apply it's an application but you submit a proposal and compete for it and negotiate for it. And if you're successful then you're awarded a contract that can be used by any federal buyer, DOD or Federal Pavilion as well the Boy Scouts, some state and local organizations. And you've got a minimum of two years in which you have to meet a minimum sales goal which is typically $25,000. You've got 24 months to win $25,000 worth of sales, products or services to federal buyers on that contract or they can take it away from you if you meet your minimum goal, then that contract can be renewed at the five to ten and the 15 year point. And so that contract could be good for as much as 20 years, and you get a chance to adjust your prices and your offerings over time. Just because the federal buyer can use a contract doesn't mean they will. And this starts to open up all kinds of questions and pain points that people experience. So the concept is easy. The execution is another matter. And because the concept is easy, there are some consultants and businesses that are busy making money off the people who are making money off the government, and so they're happy to sell their service. Oh, and you need a GSA schedule because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And don't worry, we'll market to you. You just pay us our money and your phone is going to ring and it's going to be great. And no. And so big red flag, anyone that who approaches you and says, oh, you need a GSA schedule, gets you all spun up and doesn't ask you, have you done your research into who would use this contract, where you're focusing, how this is going to be good for you. Anyone who doesn't have that slow down conversation with you is not your friend first, okay? Anybody who promises are going to do marketing for you, not your friend. If you look at the website of the person who's or organization that's approaching you and you see no evidence of humans. No, I'm serious. There are dozens of websites out there. The marketing looks very slick, but there's no our president, our background, our BIOS, our team, our success stories. Let that be a red flag for you. Some of my favorite g and I don't do GSA schedule proposals. It's not because they're not important. They are. I'm terrible at proposals. I have great partners through one of my favorite GSA schedule experts, Courtney Fairchild, president and CEO of Global Services. The vast majority of the time, she will have conversations with people saying, no, you shouldn't be doing a GSA schedule. I really don't want to do this because you're not going to be happy. It's not going to be good for your business. That's somebody to pay attention to.

Ricky Howard: Yes, I agree. I'm glad you brought that up because it's one of that we were talking about. I would say one of the biggest complaints, I guess you could say, from the frustration of small businesses is, hey, I either got sold this GSA schedule, they told me, just like you said, the consultant said I need it to sell to the government, which you don't. It could help, and we're going to obviously talk about that depending, or they got a GSA schedule. Maybe they did do their research, at least as far as, hey, does the agency I'm selling to use GSA? But now they get it, and maybe they really didn't understand how to use it, right? Because as you mentioned already, the phone is not going to start ringing necessarily because you have a GSA contract. That's a way the government can purchase from you, right? So once you have the GSA schedule, what would be some tips that you would give as far as how would I use that effectively to sell my product or service?

Judy Bradt: If you already have a GSA schedule, and let's say you've done your research, you know that the federal agencies that you could serve are authorized to use the GSA schedule. All right, Tiffany, I'm going to give you ten tips, ten ways to help use your GSA schedule to drive. And I'm just going to talk about federal business.

Ricky Howard: Number one, and I don't want to interrupt here, but I am just going to share a document that you sent me, which is really good. Okay, I'll add that out. Okay.

Judy Bradt: Don't scroll down till the end, but we want your listeners to be able to go get this resource because take some notes, for goodness sake, and ask lots of questions. And the highlights of the things I'm going to talk about are in this handout. And I'm going to include some links to four resources that can help you as well. Okay?

Ricky Howard: Okay, great.

Judy Bradt: Number one, include your GSA scheduled contract number on all of your marketing collateral. That includes in your email signature block, on your capability statement on your website, in all of your presentations, on your LinkedIn profile. Include your GSA schedule number in all of these places. People talk about it as a seal of approval. It's certainly if you have a GSA schedule, GSA does not hand those out like box tops and coupons in order to get to win a GSA schedule contract award. You've been through some serious vetting and you've invested a lot of your time and money. And that can just simply having that GSA scheduled contract number can raise your federal buyers confidence in whether they want to talk to you, even if that's not how they buy. So be aware that it can help be a door opener, even if that's not how your buyers going to do business. First, so make sure that they know. Second, link that GSA schedule contract number and you might have a couple of different schedules. Hot link that to the GSA schedule elibrary page. It's like showing somebody your driver's license link. It's not a pretty page. It doesn't matter. People talk about category management or the acquisition hallways. The analogy is you want to walk your buyer by the hand down the hallway and put their hand on your door handle of your door in the acquisition hallway. All right? And that's what it is when you link your GSA schedule contract number to your page in GSA schedule elibrary. So that's the second thing. Link it. Third tip. Use your GSA schedule logo correctly one of the mistakes that people make is they use the GSA logo and that people haven't taken the time to read the when you get a contract awarded to you. Read the logo usage information. Choose the correct GSA schedule logo. The one that vendors are supposed to use. And then customize it and put your GSA schedule number or numbers on it. And then once again, hot link that customized logo to your GSA schedule. Elibrary Page, what do you think?

Ricky Howard: Those are practical? Yes, absolutely. Those are great points. Definitely things that we have not talked about on this podcast before. So I think people are really going to learn something here.

Judy Bradt: These things cost you nothing and they are easy ways to get it out, more practical ways than paying somebody money to put out a press release that we're on a GSA schedule. Now, I'm going to give you a tip that's not in the tips, okay? Once you get your contract, by all means, let talk it up. Let people, the people that you're already doing business with know that you've got your schedule. If you're on a good trajectory. You've got your GSA schedule at a point where you've already got relationships with multiple federal buyers who might already have done other purchases with you and who have told you. Hey. We would love to make it easier to buy from you more often if you were on a GSA schedule and you've done one of the other tips. Number six on this list. You've looked at the data and you can see they're not just making this up to make you go away and waste your time. But you can see that they actually do purchase lots of what you do using GSA schedules. Then you want to be in touch with those folks and say, hey, we're here now, those opportunities we've been talking about, let's talk about how we could use that GSA scheduled to post that next opportunity. So it'll be right there and we'll be ready to respond and you can work with us really quickly.

Ricky Howard: Okay, I've got a quick question for you. So if I'm a small business, I want to do that research and see if they're using the GSA schedule. Where am I going to go to find that information out?

Judy Bradt: Past federal contract data is my favorite at the bottom of the handout that I've given to your audience. Or you can go to my website, and search on Three easy lessons. I have a handout that is Three Easy Lessons in Free Federal Market Research 20 page illustrated guide and it shows you some of the things you can do using free public information to research and look at who uses GSA schedules and other methods of buying to purchase the things that you do. So three easy lessons in free federal market research is your complimentary tool that can make that research easier.

Ricky Howard: Are those resources, are those websites free that you're directing them to. Great.

Judy Bradt: Yes. All of the resources that I've got linked on the bottom of my handout are all free resources.

Ricky Howard: Perfect.

Judy Bradt: Other resources that if you don't know about, you should check out your Procurement Technical Assistance Center. Your Procurement Technical Assistance Center. A PTAC. There are procurement technical assistance centers in over 100 locations. There's one in every single one of the 50 states and their help is free or low cost and includes contacts, content courses, counseling for not just federal but also state and local government contracting. Many of the councilors are former contracting officers themselves and one of the things they can do is teach you how to do that contract research. You have to be very specific about, hey, I want to talk to your best federal data contract guru and here's the assistance I want because I want to learn how to use federal data.

Unknown Speaker: Right.

Judy Bradt: Okay. And I have some resources on my website all about using federal data sources. I'm going to jump down a rabbit hole for a second and I'm going to tell you that there are three major free public sources of past federal contract data. One is Sam dot gov but not Sam dot gov contract opportunities but Sam gov contract data which you can only access if you have a free account on Sam Gov and learn how to use the ad hoc reports. Ad hoc reports. Sam Gov contract data. There are videos there on how to do it. You're going to spend time and you're going to spend money. All you get to choose is the mix. One more time you're going to spend time and you're going to spend money. All you get to choose is the mix. If you're thinking if only I had thousands of dollars for empty stealing expensive database I'm not going to name, relax. These databases are all using the free public data. They put other value add and templates around them. But odds are good that you can get, especially if you're at an earlier stage, by investing your time. You won't have to spend umpty, skilling thousand dollars on a big database. It's going to send you stuff that doesn't even relate to what you do if you master researching past federal contract award data because that's going to show you how to flip the switch in your head from thinking what can I bid? Which is what wastes the time of 80% of gov cons to moving your thinking upstream. Say who's my buyer and how can I get to know them before they write that next requirement for somebody else?

Ricky Howard: Really important. I always say that what's great about public sector is most of the information is public. So I mean with the exception of some classified contracts and some, I guess you could say some lag in the reporting of the information, we can go out and find out who's buying what you sell, how they're making those purchases, how much they're spending. And GSA, obviously it can be part of that and different percentages depending on who you're looking at, what you're selling. So that's great and I think I'm learning stuff too. So like the ad hoc piece in Sam Gov that's interesting. Sam Gov. It used to be Fed BizOps. I know. FPDs is a tool that some people would go to with varying degrees.

Judy Bradt: FPDs, the ability to get reports. The detailed reporting function from FPS has migrated over. So FPS is still where the users, the government buyers enter their information. And it is a place where you can get maybe a couple of dozen quick fields of data on individual contract transactions. But the ad hoc report function that you used a couple of years ago could do through FPS. That function has been migrated and is now only accessible through Sam Gov contract data. Ad hoc. I use FPDs. Actually if I have a call with you as a federal vendor I will probably have looked up your records real quick in FPDs, downloaded that to a spreadsheet and I can take a look and sort by award dates and say hey, how are you doing? The federal government publishes over 350 fields of data, 350 fields of data on every contract transaction based on a contract that's expected to be worth more than $25,000 going back over 35 years. If that doesn't make and it's available for free online right now, if that doesn't make your head explode, I don't know what would. But Sam Gov contract data is the mother load. FPVs lets you look at some of the stuff but you can't get the detailed reports to use to get the other source that people use that's also free is up spending Gov. That's run by the Department of the treasury. Sam dot gov is run by GSA integrated data environment. I haven't got that quite right. And so USA spending has a prettier front end lots of is drawing from the same pool of data. It's missing three fields that as a salesperson, a sales professional I love and that's created by, approved by, modified by. Those three fields are full or partial email addresses, not data you can't get easily or at all through USA spending. Each of the tools is free. They have different purposes but you want to get which takes me down to point number five on my handout. Focus your efforts in agencies and offices that use GSA schedules to buy what you do. There's a field in the data, it's called IDV indefinite Delivery Vehicle. And once you get to know the numbering system you'll be able to see that if somebody your buyer. If a vendor has an older GSA schedule then the IDV. ID the Indefinite Delivery Vehicle Identifier will start GSF and there'll be some numbers or it'll be but if it doesn't start with a GSF or it doesn't start with there's some other number that means they used a fishing license. Hunting license. Contract vehicle. That's not a GSA schedule. So you need to be able to sort through that data and that will tell you right away the time you invest. Maybe you go and grind your teeth over, oh, this is a couple of days, I had something better to do with my time. Honey, if you don't spend the time up front to figure that out, you could be out 1520, $30,000 and that's just in cash, never mind sweat equity for a contract vehicle that is just going to drain your pocketbook and your time.

Ricky Howard: Absolutely, yeah. Major source frustration for people that don't need it, right? But let's say now they go through and again. For anyone that's trying to determine if they need a GSA schedule. Those resources are great and you can go check out Judy's website for a little bit more information there. But that's great to do your research and say. Hey. If I'm selling product X and you can determine how much of that is being used through GSA and if you're targeting and I like to use the Air Force. That's where I was an acquisition officer. Hey, if I'm targeting Handsome Air Force Base C Three Inn, and I can see that they buy this product, but only 5% of the contracts are going through GSA. That means you probably don't need a GSA schedule at least upfront, right? So I mean, there are ways to sell and you can look and see how they're making purchases, but it could be the opposite, right? You might be selling office supplies or something and see that, hey, 60% or 70% of those purchases are going through GSA and then that takes us right back into, hey, so now we get the schedule, we go through the time and the money involved in getting it and then using some of your tips, right? Like, hey, how do we link our number, how do we use the GSA logo? A quick question, and this is one that we get a lot. We see all of it. And it's also interesting, by the way, that GSA owns Sam Gov. Maybe that's something we can dig into later if we have time. So we see all of these opportunities coming through Sam dot Gov, and a lot of third party apps that you pay for that you've mentioned are going to use that same information. Now you're going to pay for it, right. And they do different things with it, but all of the opportunities are not necessarily going to come through Sam Gov. Right. So if you have, you might notice that the GSA opportunities aren't being advertised on Sam. Is that accurate?

Judy Bradt: Yes. If a federal buyer intends to do a purchase through GSA schedule, they don't have to publicize it on Sam Gov. It's going to be publicized just through the GSA Ebuy. You're only going to find out about it. Odds are good you're only going to find out about that purchase, that opportunity to sell, if you have that GSA schedule that the buyer is using. Okay? And even so, they don't always advertise it to everybody who's got that GSA schedule. Sometimes they'll only invite a few people.

Unknown Speaker: Sure.

Judy Bradt: And so one of the frustrations that people have is they sit and they wait or they review ebuy every day, but there's not stuff coming up for what they do. Or they keep bidding opportunities that show up on ebuy, but the buyers never award the work to them. Something important to keep in mind is that the GSA schedule is just for the convenience of the buyers so long as they post the opportunity there. You say you're a buyer. There are very few buyers. Tell me if this jives with your experience as an Air Force buyer who have more than $30 for a bucket of bolts, who don't already know who they want to get it from.

Ricky Howard: Anyone that's listening to this podcast has heard me say it a million times. I knew 99.9% of the time what company I want to hire before Solicitation ever left my office. And that doesn't mean I always have to hire the person that I want to hire because there is federal acquisitions regulations and they govern how we put people on contract. But I did a lot of the time, right. And the reason I knew is because nobody on the government side, they're busy too. They're not going to go through the work and the effort of putting a Solicitation out there. And that's a lot of work in a lot of cases. They're not going to go through that if they don't know there's a company out there that can solve the problem that they're trying to solve, whether it's a product or services, whatever it is. And you're probably about to get into this, but this is where I would see companies use GSA successfully, which is they would know that I had a problem I was trying to solve way before the Solicitation ever went out. And they're setting up meetings and they're talking to the acquisitions teams and telling them how they can solve their problems and influencing. So maybe we could jump into that piece of how can you use GSA in that circumstance? I think you touched on it a little bit, but I think this is good for people to hear.

Judy Bradt: Absolutely right. So a federal buyer, instead of spending six or eight months going through a full blown competition process and putting on sand gov, if the product or service that they need is available through vendors that have been awarded GSA scheduled contracts, they can post something on ebuy and choose any buyer they like, any vendor they like, regardless of price, in 14 days. How cool is that? But having a whole raft of offers that's also really inconvenient. And so one of the things that a lot of folks in GSA schedule don't realize is that the business often goes to the person who's already had the meeting established trust, gotten to know the buyers. And the buyers says, great, I know you, we like you, we trust you. How can we get you said, well, we're on this GSA schedule and we're on Seaport E and we're a subcontractor or partner on stars four or whatever it is, stars three. And so which one do you like? The data shows that you do a lot on stars three and you also use GSA schedules. Which would you prefer? So the buyer can suddenly use the way to purchase that they find gives them the most success and or that their agency prefers they get the vendor that they want. And it's been published in a way that anybody who thought that they had something to bring to the party could make an offer. Now what about those also ran vendors? If you bid and you're not successful, that still gives you the opportunity to get to know that buyer, to build a relationship for another day. It's very rare that that federal buyer is buying that one thing and they're going to buy it. That's the only time in all creation they're ever going to buy it. That federal buyer is probably going to buy that thing, that product or service again, or they know somebody else who willing up again. We're talking about the GSA schedule environment. And so even if you're not successful the first time, a GSA scheduled purchase doesn't require your buyer to give you a formal debriefing. So don't use the D word and say, hey, we'd like to follow up and get to know you. Here's how we can help you, and we're not going away anytime soon. We know we can help you. Here are some of the ways. Let's get to know each other. Does that sound familiar?

Ricky Howard: Absolutely. There's no way that I'm not going to respond to somebody putting my government hat back on. If you reach out and you're respectful and you're just like, hey, could we potentially set up a meeting and talk about either how we can solve this problem for you in the future? Maybe, hey, give us a few tips on what we can do differently next time. Unless there is something, some regulation or some policy that's preventing me from doing that, I'm going to respond to you and probably give you some helpful tips. And you'd be surprised how many companies don't follow up.

Judy Bradt: That's right.

Ricky Howard: And by the way, how many companies don't even bother to figure out who's doing the buying, what problems.

Judy Bradt: There we go. That takes me right to tip number six. Once you choose the federal agencies and only pick three to at most five would be tons because most of these federal agencies, they're doing a lot of the buying. They've got a lot of regions and offices and programs. Choose maybe three and then again, look, go. Back at the contract data and identify what I call the players at all the layers. I have a proprietary players and layers methodology. The resources are free. On my website I can tell you the players are players at five layers that all are involved in. If you're successful you're going to know the players at all five of these layers in every single office and agency where you want to win federal business. They are the contracting layer that includes the contracting officer and the contracting specialist and other people in the contracting office. The second the Oz, DA Boo, Sad Booth, the small business specialist they can't award contracts to you. They can't influence, they can help with navigation. The more work you've done the more helpful they're going to be. Third layer end users, very rich layer. Lots of the end user can be anybody from the program manager to the person at the help desk to the warrior at the pointy end of the battle space. They are stuck with the consequences of choosing you. They're often involved in defining what they need and they eventually a very special one of those end users, the contracting officers representative writes it up and heaves the specification over the wall to the folks in contract and you get to write it up and compete it. So contracting, small business specialist, end user stakeholder that could be the base commander, the cabinet secretary, the person who's speaking at the big event, they're not in the room when they choose you but boy are they going to be on the front page of the paper when the project goes tango uniform. If things don't go well. That's your stakeholder. They're setting the big priorities. And finally industry your competitors, other primes, large and small. So if you don't have time to learn to get to know your federal buyer they sure as do not have time to get to know you. If you don't get to know those people you better believe your competition has. So players at all the players get to know them and then create custom messaging for each of the players at those layers. Each of them needs different things, wants different things, cares about different things and at different stages of the acquisition. Our friends at market Connections, that includes Aaron, heffron have wonderful data on their website about what kind of information do people at different decision making layers want at different stages. marketconnections Look them up. And so you want to develop some ideas, some ways to genuinely bring value which takes us to the next section. Create a systematic multi touch relationship based sales plan to reach each of those individual humans. One of the things that stops me in my sales process is if I'm trying to say oh what am I going to talk to somebody about? Figure it out. Have a list, have a method. What you invest up front in creating a method and then refining it saves you a lot of time, means you can spend your time calling. I want to make a critical distinction in the federal market. People talk about, oh, we hire someone for business development. You hire for business development, you get business development. Business development is not sales. Business development is creating the environment where business can take place. That's very nice, but that's not going to close the sale. You hire a business developer, that's what you're going to get. Marketing is about helping them find you. Sales is about helping them choose you. Sales is the relationship development piece. Good marketing creates leads. Leads have to be converted into and you build the leads, gives you an idea of the person whose role and activity and responsibility points the way to a potential opportunity. But you need to sell. And so to develop the relationships with the people who need what you do, you want to talk about your best values, those things that set you apart, that make it easy to choose you, that are ideally verifiable, objectively verifiable and quantifiable, and make it easy for someone to choose you at your price. When you get down to the very last ones, you want to talk about those too. For example, your small business specialist might care about what are all of your status quo? Your contracting officer might care about how many years have you been in business and how big is your company? And what contract vehicles are you on? Your end user might care about what's your past performance and your contracting labor might care about that as well. And your use cases, what are the things that help lower the risk? Where are the places where you've got financing and staff and experience? Where have you done business before? So your best values are going to be different for the players at different layers. So talk about those best values. Bring value with each touch. How are you offering them a micro win or micro engagement? How are their lives better because you left them a voicemail? Maybe that comes from energy. I'm going to ask you this from the point of view of a marketer. How many people do you know who love Voicemail? Anybody love leaving Voicemail?

Ricky Howard: Well, exactly. I don't think anyone loves Voicemail, okay?

Judy Bradt: So let's flip it over. But what if I'm going to use one of my special tools here? What if I could use my federal contracting ferry magic wand?

Ricky Howard: Yeah. If you listen to this, Judy literally pulled out a magic wand, okay?

Judy Bradt: And I could give you 30 seconds of uninterrupted attention right inside someone's brain. Would you take that?

Ricky Howard: Of course, of course.

Judy Bradt: That's what voicemail is. That's what voicemail is. And so you want to be able to give someone as warm and enthusiastic and put a smile on your face they will hear in your voice. You have 30 seconds to say, wow, I'm sorry I missed you. Check your email. This is what it's about. My name is Judy 703-627-1074 and I'd love to talk to you about three easy ways to build your federal business. This is the kind of message I might leave if I don't hear from you by Wednesday close of business, I'll give you a call Friday morning. 703-627-1074 interesting. So now this is called double tap. This is one of the most powerful techniques that experienced call teams are using. So now I've left an enthusiastic voicemail, said what's in it for them, made a promise, check your email. That email is queued up and ready to hit because I don't expect to reach most of my people on my first call. But that email is there. So I've made good on one promise. Now, is she going to call on Friday morning? I call on Friday morning, expect to leave another voicemail, that's okay. But now, twice I've shown, I do what I say I'm going to do. You're building trust even with somebody you haven't met yet.

Ricky Howard: Well, you know what too, just as a and I'm going to look at this from the other angle, right. And one thing I like about that, because I've certainly been on the receiving end of that before, and you can get to a point as an acquisitions person or a person in the government where you kind of just ignore what you can ignore and focus on what you have to get done. But if you know somebody's going to keep coming back, you're going to at least respond to them. Because, you know, like some people will reach out to you and then stop and they'll never do it again. Right? And then actually, one other thing I do want to point out for the crowd that is just shooting an email and asking for a meeting. And I'll speak to the military because that's where I was. But if you're shooting an email to a contracting officer, program manager, end user, anybody with a dotmail email address, those servers can block your email. And even my wife's email would get blocked occasionally. So if you are putting anything in there, like links to your website, stuff like that, it can get flagged and blocked. So your email might not be getting through. So whether you're reaching out to set up an appointment or God forbid, you're submitting a proposal and you don't get something back saying they got it, absolutely, I am calling, I'm doing anything that I can to make sure that email is getting through, that they got it on the other side. So just another reason for the call and the voicemail is you just gave.

Judy Bradt: Me a great idea, Ricky. I'm just going to make something up here. You might want to consider having two or three different versions of your email. And to also inquire this is a question to have the small business specialist say, what's the protocol for getting emails delivered in this organization or agency or office. Do they take attachments? Do they take PDFs? Does everything have to have no links? Do they take HTML? How do I get through? You might end up writing two or three different versions of your email. One's in plain text, one has graphics, one does not. One has links, one does not experiment. And that's also going to show you, but I love the fact that you shared that, hey, you know what, the contracting officers doing the best they can. They've got not enough time and effort and money to do all the things that they'd like. So you're going to return the call to the one who keeps showing up because public servant, it's in your name.

Ricky Howard: Well, and you have a responsibility to a certain extent when you're in the business, especially in the acquisitions field, the program manager, contracting officer, engineer that are working on the contract related programs and efforts, you do, you have an obligation to talk to the small business. And you brought up the small business office essentially, right, which you're not talking about the SBA, you're talking about the small business office that's associated with each organization. That's a good distinction for some companies to realize. If you're bidding on an opportunity at whether it's a military base or VA or you pick your federal agency, there's going to be a small business office that's associated with even geographically with that area and they can be very valuable. And if you're not getting through, you can go to small business owners and say, hey, I'm not getting through. Can you help me out here?

Judy Bradt: Yeah, I'm not getting through and I've done this and I've called these people. The more work you've done, the more helpful they're likely to be where I say, gee, I'm a service disabled veteran on eight day one on business and a husband. You have to do business with me. No, they don't. Okay, good point.

Ricky Howard: By the way.

Judy Bradt: You have to practice that. But as well to be able to say, here's who I've called, here's where I've done, here's the research I've done. These are the three opportunities in the procurement forecast that suggest to me that I can be helpful. Here's my past performance suggesting I'm a good fit for these things. What have I missed? If you were me, where would you start? And this catapults you to the top of the small business specialist priority list because 80% of the conversations they have say, hi, I'm a small business, what do you all do?

Ricky Howard: Yeah, that's a good point too, because there is a difference between a company showing up and saying, hey, I'm 80, I'm willing on small business. When they start off all the certifications like, hey, we got to do business with you, we don't. It's always about can you solve the government's problem? Always start out with you've done your research, you understand the office and the problems that they're trying to solve. And then once you build up the fact that you can solve their problem and maybe do it in a unique way to help them write the requirements, set aside the cherry on top, like, hey, maybe the contracting officer can get a point in his barrel for hiring a woman on sale.

Judy Bradt: It makes it easier. One of the touchstones that I use when I'm working with my clients, your federal buyers, thinking about three, you want to do three things for them. You want to follow the rules, know what the rules are, followed the way that they work in their office. Make it easy. Look at what it is that they do, how they behave that suggests the way they like to do business and make them look good. And that not only includes helping them meet their goals, but over performing delivering on time and on budget and Nam, how high, all of those things.

Ricky Howard: I'm going to give you an example, and I'm not going to name any names, but I will say that one company, a larger company, very good at knowing how to sell to the federal government. I mean, like a lot of the big defense companies, they've been doing it for years. They have 100 year plans. They know how to do it. But when we're talking about making it easy and this is what reminded me of this story. We had one company come in just ahead of the solicitation and finding out about what the problem sets are and wanted to make it easy to the point where they wrote the solicitation for the government. They literally handed it to the program manager on the other side. Word for word. What they could post. And they posted it. And they forgot to take that company's name off of the solicitate. So, I mean, that's wrong on a lot of levels, but I just want to give that example. And they had to go back and redo it the right way, and they got some hand slapped. But you can make it really easy on the other side saying, hey, these are requirements that we think should be included. If I was going to write it, this is what it would look like. And of course, you're writing it for your business.

Judy Bradt: So you go to your document properties, you not only strip out your Identifiers on the document properties, that's one place you do it, as well as taking off your branding, your identifying stuff. One of the things I have another post, I have a blog post on my website. Go and look at it. I want to say gifts you can give your federal buyer. Now, if that doesn't kind of make you go relax. Yeah, all right. The gifts include the gift of time. The gift of time, how can you save your buyer time? And one of those is to help develop some criteria or a wish list for doing a thing or a draft scope, literally on as white, as unidentifiable a document as you can have that conversation in October or November, the fiscal year, so they can slip it in their fiscal year and funding file, and suddenly you've got a wish list conversation that becomes wishes come true. Q of the magic wand comes June or July.

Ricky Howard: Yes. Fall out. We're in fallout season right now as we record this at the beginning of July. In all this that we've talked about. And I know we straight a little bit. Of course. But if you're listening to this. But not really. Because all these things still apply to if you have a GSA schedule. Whether you have a GSA schedule or you're on NASA soup or you're going after a solicitation that's going to be publicly completed. Whatever the opportunity is. All of these things we just talked about are probably going to apply and put you in a better position to win at the end of the day. Make it easier for the buyer on the other side.

Judy Bradt: Yeah. And there are four things that people do when they're successful in the federal arena, and you're going to do those things whether you and I ever speak again or you're listening to this and I never meet you. Okay, here's the four things. The first is beef up and buff up your federal sales game. Understand the players at all five layers and what to do, what to say, and what to ask to build relationships. The second thing people do when they're successful is focus. Make a confident choice based on hard data of which agencies. Are you going to go in deep and keep showing up and pursue those relationships because you know these are the people you're meant to serve. The third is have a structured federal sales plan built around the individual federal humans. Adjust your focus agencies. I don't like to use the word target agencies because it sounds like you're shooting them. They're focus agencies. You're going to love them. And I have been doing these three things with dozens of companies for many years. I follow up with the CEOs and say, hey, how's it going? Can I help you? Are you selling anything? And I'll always remember this conversation I had with Captain Ed Nardoich, the founder of the Mid Atlantic Maritime Academy. And Captain Ed said to me, Judy, this was structurally brilliant, tactically brilliant. We didn't do the work. I got to own that and went, ****. Four years ago, I took apart everything I had been doing, and I piloted not one, not three, but five different programs and nearly lost my mind as well as my shirt. But we put it all back together. What did we learn? What's the critical thing that makes the difference between success and struggle? Here it is. And this is point number nine on my list. Use the plan, make the calls. Stay engaged. Research shows it takes between 15 and 30 touches, not emails, but 15 and 30 instances of contact. To get from contact to contract, tap the Twelve X Rule. Someone who has already purchased from you is twelve times more likely to buy something from you again than someone who's never heard of you.

Ricky Howard: Without question. In fact, you probably did the math on that. But I can tell you that if you're on contract with the government, there's no question that your easiest path to more sales is working that connection. So whether it's all the people you know absolutely, it becomes easy. If you have an ongoing program with someone where you're developing software or providing a service, you're going to have a program manager or contact that you're working with anyway that's in charge of your contract. You should be talking to them at least once a month and not only asking them if they need anything else, can you up-sell them, but who else within that could potentially use what you're using?

Judy Bradt: That's going to be I'm just bouncing in my little chair. That's exactly right. Our mutual friend Mark Amtower said you did research where he said 67% of authorized federal It buyers are never called on by anyone. Can you imagine now? So the Twelve X Rule, just calling up and just regular contact with the people who have already paid your money. How you doing? Anything else I can help you with? What are you hearing? And sometimes people get all squeaked out about, I don't want to sound like I'm begging. Okay, write this down. All right, here we go. Our business is growing and we're looking for new projects. How exciting. Who would want to talk to you? Write it down. Say it in the mirror so you can say it with confidence and excitement. Our business is growing and we're looking for new projects. Who do you know who would like the same phenomenal experience that we're able to give you? If you were me, who would you be talking to? Because they don't wake up in the morning going, how can I dump a bucket of cash on Ricky's head now? They should, but they don't. You got to ask the question.

Ricky Howard: They're going to want to help you, too. I mean, yeah.

Judy Bradt: Because they want you to stay in business. They want you to thrive, you to grow, to be able to do more for them.

Ricky Howard: Yeah, exactly.

Judy Bradt: Yeah. You also want to call on people you already know who haven't bought from you yet. People go? Oh, I bid to them. I wasn't successful. I don't want to talk to them. Not you put a lot of time and effort and blood and sweat and equity into that proposal. You got to see their best stuff. Call up the people you have proposed to unsuccessfully and say, hey, anything coming up? Who should we be talking to again? And ask for those referrals. And finally, last tip of our ten bid, selectively. You don't have to bid everything that goes out on you. Buy and make every offer, every bid count. Record your efforts. If you're coming to the end of your 24 months in GSA schedule and you're looking to get renewed or looking for an extension, you don't want to get cut off. You're going to need to demonstrate for them your best efforts. And that includes here's what we did, here's what we didn't bid, here's why. Here's all the other things that we're doing to promote our GSA schedule. Talk it up and you're going to need to document that. So one of the other resources I have for you, the four resources are players and Layers methodology including the GovCon Personas Guide. These are all free on my website. Second, three easy lessons and free federal market research. Third GSA schedule rescue camp. I have a 1 hour recorded webinar on tips to avoid problems when you're coming up on renewal and you're concerned you're not going to make your sales numbers, how to keep your GSA contract if you're doing your best and you're struggling. And finally, the program we talked about that have evolved over time. The Federal Business Intensive. It's not a course, not a class, not a database. It's eight weeks of hard work in a private program so that in eight weeks or less you create and launch a custom federal sales plan and end up with a solid relationship pipeline into at least three places that you're confident you can win work and a sales plan filled with leads you can use for the next two years.

Ricky Howard: I love that. I think that is amazing. It's funny. Everything I'm like, we're both like, yeah, I'm nodding. As long as you're talking through this, I love the focus of that too. You're absolutely right about the plan. Three is absolutely enough. You could probably focus on one and have enough because some of these organizations are so big that HHS DHS any of the services. Oh, absolutely.

Judy Bradt: Your federal buyer is one of the most risk averse life forms on earth. Tell me if this Jesus with your thinking. They want to know that you've solved their problem for someone who looks just like them yesterday afternoon. The closer you can come to that, the more you can lower their risk threshold, the better your chances. And remember, start small, be persistent. Think about what problem could you solve for less than $10,000. What problem could you solve for less than $250,000? Because a warranted federal Contracting officer has very easy ways to award work for you, even without a GSA schedule, even without a contract vehicle if they like you. So make those calls, get to know people, and I wish you every success.

Ricky Howard: Judy, that is awesome. Thank you very much. You just touched on simplified acquisition. You really covered a lot. We started with GSA, but we really covered what you need to do to sell to the government. Right. And using GSA is one of those options. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. How can people reach out to you? We talked a little bit about your website. Is that where you would direct people?

Judy Bradt: I've got my contact information at the bottom of the handout. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn. Tell me. I met through Ricky. Let's talk. And you can find my website on growfedbizb. I z 703-627-1074. Go on to my website. You have a chance to book a call. I do a number of complementary federal business breakthrough. 30 minutes sessions with qualified companies each month. And my promise to you is you'll always come away with at least three things you can do, even if we never talk again. That'll get you on your road to the winds you want.

Ricky Howard: That is awesome. Well, you guys have it. Go to the show notes if you want links, but you got the website and a lot of the information from Judy herself. Thanks again, Judy, for coming on. And yeah, we'll talk next time.

Judy Bradt: You bet you. Thanks, Ricky.

Ricky Howard: Thanks again. 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 and guidance to answer your questions and a community of like minded business owners that want to partner on different opportunities to forbid for subcontracting and teaming, or just to discuss general strategy on how to sell to the DOD. You'll 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, and I would love to see you in the membership. Thanks.

Do You Like Our Podcast?

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

Ray Sefrhans


"DoD Contract Academy helped us identify and win a spot in the AFWERX Challenge showcase! I highly recommend to all companies looking to sell products, services or a new technology to the US military."

$12.7M in Government Contracts