With summer here, we are reminded that the federal fourth quarter buying season is upon us. September 30 marks the end of the federal government’s 2014 fiscal year (FY) and federal contractors should take steps to obtain as much of that year end money as possible. For those companies whose commercial sales may lag in the summer months this can be the perfect time to focus on federal sales as federal agencies strive to spend the rest of their budgets in order to avoid the risk of losing existing funds or the downsizing of their future budgets.
Deltek projects that the federal government will spend over $63 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of 2014. This is over $20 billion more than the government spent in the fourth quarter of 2013.
One of the greatest challenges for agencies associated with spending Q4 funds is that the procurement process must be simple and fast. During this time agencies are looking to existing contracts, GWACs and BPAs, in order to facilitate the quick purchase. For this reason, the GSA Multiple Award Schedules are always a likely candidate. The GSA Schedule contract vehicle can cut down the procurement process considerably, and is fairly easy for agencies to use.
So, what should you do to increase your GSA Schedule 4th Quarter sales?
- Start Early- Many Agencies start their planning prior to September, so start gearing up your marketing campaign now to avoid the end-of-the-year rush and panic. Use the summer months to work closely with staff to create proactive marketing plans to ensure that you have appropriately marketed your services/products in such a way that the government will seriously consider your company when determining final spending decisions.
- Keep Your GSA Contract Current and Compliant- It is imperative that your GSA Schedule is up-to-date with all of the services/products that you offer. Make sure that new services/products are added, old ones are deleted and that you have applied for your appropriate annual price escalations. Out-of-date products and pricing will make it difficult for both you and your customers.
- Make Sure You Are Registered on GSA Advantage! and E-Buy- In order for government agencies to find contractors that have the services/products they wish to purchase in Q4 they may look to the online ordering systems set up by GSA. It is crucial to have your current pricelist loaded on GSA Advantage! for viewing and searches. This will also register you with e-Buy so that you can see all the available RFQs released to the GSA Schedule(s) that you hold.
- Contact Current and Past Clients- A primary part of your proactive marketing plan should be getting in contact with current and past clients to find out if they have year end money and requirements for which you are qualified. Repeat clients account for much of Q4 money spent. It is faster to sell to a customer who is familiar with your products/work than it is to find and convince new customers of your value.
- Offer Promotions to GSA Schedule Users- Although the purchases off a GSA Schedule can be made using “best value” justification rather than a best price, government purchasers are always going to be concerned with the bottom line. For GSA Schedule product holders, Q4 is a great time of year to run year end promotions or discounts to encourage agencies to spend their money with you.
- Be Mindful of the Micro- Purchase Threshold Sales- Purchases under the $3,000 micro-purchase threshold are the easiest for federal buyers to make. Be sure you have the ability to accept the government purchase card in order to close orders that are below the micro-purchase threshold and even the $150,000 Simplified Acquisition Threshold. Credit cards purchases under these thresholds can be accomplished with far less paperwork and administration.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small- Some agencies during Q4 may only have a minimal amount of cash left to spend on projects smaller than you may be used to. Don’t walk away from business because it seems too small. This can be a great way to gain entrance for your company to a particular agency or office with which you have not previously worked. In this way, you position yourself for larger contracts in the future.
As is always the case with your GSA contract, you should be vigilant; making sure your contract and marketing efforts are up-to-date. But now more than ever, you and your team should take the steps to be sure you are fully prepared for the coming fall harvest in Q4 of FY 2014.