Grow Fed Biz

Finding The Right Federal Opportunities

woman on the threshold of opportunities


This article is based on highlights of a conversation between Shauna Weatherly, CEO of FedSubK, and Judy Bradt, CEO of Summit Insight. View the entire webinar here.

Federal business success takes more than deep pockets to fund continuous bidding. The top companies master skills that include building relationships, understanding the nuances of contract vehicles…and making hard choices about where to invest time and money in the opportunities they are most likely to win. The deceptively simple act of choosing what to go after has a profound impact on nearly every aspect of the business. Read on, to shed light on these factors and gain valuable insight for vendors who want to win Federal work.

The Impact of The Opportunities You Choose

Thoughtful choices start with knowing your current win rate and making the commitment to consistently improve the accuracy of the criteria you use to choose the opportunities you’re going to pursue. That choice becomes the foundation of a virtuous cycle. Federal buyers choose contractors who they expect will deliver the best value and performance. Vendors who perform at levels that meet or exceed their buyers’ expectations in turn receive the highest ratings in the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS). Vendors with the best CPARS have an advantage in future competitions…because Federal buyers can give weight to such past performance in future competitions.

Teams that perform well have higher morale, which launches a second virtuous spiral: successful teams attract more talented staff and retain that talent for longer. High-performing team retention increases client satisfaction. Satisfied clients readily award contract extensions, formally expand scopes of work (and consequent revenue), and gladly make referrals to receptive colleagues who need what you do. 

All that lowers your cost of capture and marketing, increases your win rate, and improves profitability.

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Understanding the Dynamics

Successful vendors need to appreciate the factors that influence Federal buyers who are involved in all the steps, from requirement definition and choosing the acquisition strategy all the way to the actual award of contracts and task orders. It’s clear that while dollar value plays a role, the government’s risk aversion and familiarity with vendors are crucial. For smaller contracts, there may be more leeway for new vendors, but as the stakes increase, name recognition, relationships, and past performance, become essential.

Building Relationships Early

One key takeaway is the significance of engaging with government buyers and requirements personnel early in the process. That starts with research, especially based on free open-source intelligence including past contract awards, to discover the full network of players at all five layers in every agency where vendors want to be successful. Meaningful discussions before submitting proposals can provide insights into agency needs and establish rapport, setting the stage for successful partnerships. Networking events, pre-proposal conferences, and requests for information are valuable opportunities to connect with government representatives.

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Persistence Pays Off

For vendors eyeing larger contracts, persistence is key. It may take multiple attempts and interactions before the government perceives a vendor as serious and trustworthy. Building trust and credibility through consistent engagement can tilt the odds in favor of securing contracts, even in competitive environments.

Contract Vehicles As Marketing Tools

GSA Schedules, Government-Wide Acquisition Contracts (GWACS), and other contract vehicles determined to be Best-In-Class can offer greater opportunities for vendors to reach their buyers. However, success also takes significant proactive marketing efforts. That often starts with research that smart vendors do, using past Federal contract data,  into which of the dozens of possible contract vehicles their top priority agency customers prefer.

Each vehicle you win also requires a commitment of resources to meet that vehicle’s unique reporting, compliance, and utilization requirements. Finally,  it’s not enough to hold a contract; vendors must actively promote their capabilities to potential buyers to generate task orders and revenue.

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Teaming For Success

Teaming arrangements can enhance a vendor’s competitiveness, but they require careful consideration and relationship management. While teaming may seem like a shortcut to success, it often entails as much—if not more—effort than pursuing contracts individually. The constant refrain from prime contractors is, “Come to us bringing business.” The most successful teaming partners consistently demonstrate value to each other by leveraging existing relationships to generate teaming opportunities.

Timing For Success

Vendors need to give themselves plenty of lead time to align their capture activities with the procurement timelines of government agencies, anticipate hiccups like Continuing Resolutions that can impact the flow of funds and delay contract awards, and invest in continuous and consistent relationship-building activities with the players at all the layers. 

In Closing… 

Winning government contracts goes beyond submitting proposals—it’s about cultivating relationships, understanding contract vehicles, and positioning oneself strategically in the marketplace. By investing in early engagement, persistently pursuing opportunities, and leveraging teaming arrangements effectively, vendors can enhance their chances of success in the complex world of government contracting.

Related Resources

Organic business growth (including generating additional task orders, contract extensions, and referrals) is the single lowest-cost strategy to winning new Federal business. Learn how our clients uncover, and get on track to win, literally millions of dollars of opportunities in under four hours. MORE >>

Judy Bradt is CEO of Summit Insight. She serves established companies who want a private program for 2-6 people who are ready to implement an account-based, relationship-centered approach to grow their Federal business. Find out more here – or use this link to book a call.

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